By Tina Bruner, LIA Manager, Engagement
Last week, LIA had the opportunity to participate in the North American Christian Convention (NACC) where nearly 7500 church volunteers and leaders gather each year to learn, share and pray about how God can use us individually and as a Church to be more effective for His purposes. We got the chance to see lots of friends who have partnered with our ministry over the years and to share the model of LIA with new ones.
After a long week of meeting people, eating concession stand delicacies and learning A LOT about what God is up to through his Church, I was struck by something Christian leader, Sergei Golovin said: “Many are informed, but few are transformed.”
He continued to share that the gospel is not just information to share, but the gospel is the life of Christ shared with others. We are called not to ‘inform’ – but to be participants of the gospel… to be Jesus’ presence everywhere. My immediate response to his testimony was, “Yes, of course!” But as I thought it through, I understood that this type of gospel requires much more of me than just sharing information. I must also share my life, hopefully a life that reflects the life and love of Christ. This verse came to mind: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
I feel so grateful to serve alongside believers who each day are living out the gospel. LIA’s model is built to transform communities to the fullness Christ intends. This happens person by person, being Jesus’ presence to them – in 36 communities, in 10 countries. May we be challenged to not be part of informing, but being transformed in his image and sharing that with others.
Justin Ahrens is a long-timer supporter and member of the LIA USA advisory council. He and his creative firm, Rule29, have provided pro bono and discounted branding, design and marketing services to LIA for the last four years.
July 9th marked the second anniversary of South Sudan’s independence from its northern counterpart. Last year I had the privilege to visit the work LIA is doing in Rumbek, South Sudan with my and LIA’s friend, Brian MacDonald of Wonderkind Studios. Our goal was to try to understand some of the story present in our world’s newest country. Story has become so vital to our understanding, communicating or relating to something in this big wonder-filled world of ours. We felt we had to SEE South Sudan before we could help tell it.
On our previous visits to Africa, we landed in a major city like Addis Abba, Ethiopia or Nairobi, Kenya. From there we would work in the local slums, then make our way out to the rural areas. On this trip we landed in Nairobi and took a plane to the Kenyan border. We went through customs and then took another plane that landed on a dirt runway in Rumbek. What was most shocking to us was the fact that we were seriously isolated and in a whole new world.
We spent the next seven days listening, sweating a lot, and experiencing as much as we could of the South Sudanese. We conducted interviews, played, ate and lived in a compound right in the middle of the community. While we were there we visited a local clinic, a school and several villages, where we watched the local life at work. We also spent time testing prototypes for educational materials we’re working on with Kent State University – more about that in a future post.
With the help of some gracious donors, we were able to make a book for LIA: a collection of the amazing people we met and interviewed combined with facts and realities of their world – a world that we as a society can help evolve. Not an in-depth look at South Sudan, but an introduction to the beauty, the people, the struggle, and most of all, the hope that can be witnessed there.
Rule29 is honored to be working with organizations like Life In Abundance who spend their days helping to empower those who need it most. This project is just a tiny piece of what we get to do to help build awareness of the new story of South Sudan. We hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of the book from LIA. Here’s a quick trailer of what went into the making of the book.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you take the time to SEE what is around you – especially in a world completely different from yours.
During the holiday season last year, LIA committed to restoring life with our church partners through an orphan and vulnerable children program in Ethiopia and relief health services in the Horn of Africa.
We wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress so far – transformation is already taking root and lives are being changed in a sustainable way.
Because of your commitment, LIA has:
- Provided $75,000 worth of food and shelter to 8,500 people in a refugee camp in the Horn of Africa
- Continued the establishment of the orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) program in that refugee camp to meet the needs of those families for the long-term
- Worked with local church partners to identify and enroll 200 youth in our new OVC program in Arada, Ethiopia
- Provided shelter and necessary living supplies to 50 of those children who had no where else to live
- Paid school, book and educational materials fees for the other 150 children so that they may continue their education
- Helped the families of the 150 at-risk youth start a savings and credit cooperative
Despite this tremendous progress, there is still much work to be done. Thank you for walking alongside LIA and its church partners to restore life. It truly would not be possible without your support.