GMHC – Africa 2015 was the best conference LIA has been able to host to date! As people traveled from across Africa and the world not only bear testimony to the transformational work God is doing in the lives of people across the continent but to also be inspired toward greater things to come the atmosphere at All Saints Cathedral was extraordinary .
GMHC-Africa is shaping the dispensation of missions for Africa by Africans in our time and as LIA we are grateful that we are able to continue to steward this project to be a resource for anyone seeking to dedicate their lives to the mission of healing the nations.
Dr. Carol Spears discuss healthcare in Africa
Smiles all around
The beautiful facility at All Saints Cathedral,Nairobi
Medical students from Kenyatta University Kenya
Dr. Dela Adadevo tackels the issue of leadership in Africa
LIA Training Director ,Rev. Mutinda Musyimi, interviews George Rono about what it means to be a missionary
Pastor Jason Epps speaking about discipleship
Pastor Callisto Odede having a light moment with a student after his plenary session
Dr. Girma Begashaw joins LIA as the Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Dr. Begashaw has over 35 years of work experience with International Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs), serving in senior leadership, organizational development and technical training roles. With a technical background in Civil Engineering, Dr. Begashaw also holds a Masters and Doctorate degree in Leadership Development. He is a married, a proud grandfather and currently lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
We asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better.
Tell us about your calling and conviction to serve the Kingdom?
First of all my calling and conviction starts with Jesus Christ. He saved me. He gave me salvation. He is my Lord, He is my shepherd, He is my hope. He gave me purpose, He answered my questions, He transformed my life and I am indebted to Him for life. That is why I also want to share with others the blessing of the wholistic life that I have received. Because he transformed me physically, socially, economically and mentally. It is because of that transformation that I feel obliged to to take part in the great commission. That is my purpose and calling in life.
What drew you to LIA?
I have been involved in Christian ministry through the NGO set up for over 35 years. I have also been an active member of my local church in addition to various initiatives within Christian ministry circles. So all this prepared me to serve as Chairman of the LIA International Board for a season and now I feel called to play a more active role in this ministry. A ministry that focuses on declaring the gospel through words, deeds and lifestyle. LIA’s vision and mission is aligned with my passion and it inspires me daily to work in service of that.
What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA?
There are two important expectations I have for myself. First, is to play my part as a member of the leadership in LIA and shape what LIA looks like going forward as it advances into the next phase of development. Second, I want to build our efficiency as we work to put in place the right systems and the right people to carry us forward. All while being committed to building our capacity, encouraging one another and developing a leadership team that is both empowered and skilled enough to take LIA to the next level. My expectation is that LIA will expand in depth and width. Meaning that we need to ensure that as LIA grows in geographical width it will also grow deeper in the impact it is having when implementing its model.
What will be your role as the Chief Operations Officer?
LIA has a three person leadership team. There is Dr. Muindi (CEO), Carley Buckingham (Executive Director) and myself. We will be the ones setting the direction and leading LIA International. More specifically my role will be to oversee LIA’s program operations and venturing into promoting and developing local in country recourse mobilization.
“Like Leontius, the young Athenian in Plato, I presume that you are reading this because you desire a closer look, and that you, too, are properly disturbed by your curiosity. Perhaps, in examining this extremity with me, you hope for some understanding, some insight, some flicker of self-knowledge – a moral, or a lesson, or a clue about how to behave in this world: some such information.”
It’s about a six-hour drive from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda to Cyangugu where LIA will be holding their first ever envisioning seminar in this region. Cyangugu town sits on the border between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), hugging the banks of the beautiful lake Kivu. As we drive into town the sun is setting over the horizon you can see the fishermen setting out for the night. They’ll be back in the morning singing loud and rowing strong as they’re bringing in the night’s catch. The next morning however there would also be another chorus of singing coming from a different part of town.
As church leaders from Cyangugu and across the border in DRC gathered together the next day, it was clear from the strong handshakes and enthusiastic hugs going around that it had been quite some time since they last gathered together. The agenda for this gathering was to learn about transformational development. Over forty churches were represented and as the session started Dr. Muindi took to the front of the room to answer the question; what is LIA’s call in Rwanda?
“When I first came to Rwanda a year ago I visited Cyangugu. That visit clarified our call to this region. Every Monday, LIA as an organization takes time to pray for the nations and for some time now we have felt God calling us to the Lakes region (Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda) and we did not know how or when but we knew He would open a way and make things clear, so we just kept that in prayer.”
Dr. Muindi pauses to let Obadias, the LIA Regional Coordinator, translate. The room is silent with everyone’s eyes jumping back and forth between Obadias and Dr. Muindi.
“There was another training taking place here in Cyangugu and I attended with my husband, not to serve but just to be an observer. So one morning as I sat down with my husband and another friend for breakfast a beautiful Rwandese woman decided to join us at our table. She was a student at the ongoing training.
She couldn’t speak English or Swahili so we didn’t have much of a conversation beyond good morning.
As one of the servers was coming around to our table, they accidentally tripped and dropped their serving tray on the floor. It slapped the floor with a loud bang, almost like someone had dropped a hard object. Immediately the lady sitting at our table shot up from her seat and started having a panic attack. Though we couldn’t really talk to her we did our best to try and calm her down .
When she eventually controlled the shaking and tears; we were able to understand by way of a translator what was wrong. Her name was Sarah and she, like so many other Rwandese, lived through the horrors of the 1994 genocide. As the tray slapped the floor it brought back painful memories of the day she lost her husband and her children; taken by machete welding neighbors.
That incident with Sarah weighed on me heavily. As I sought some more understanding from the pastors attending the training, I realized what I saw was extremely common. I realized a felt but unmet need. As ‘coincidence’ would have it that same day, I got word from one of LIA’s partners, all the way in America whose inquiry could not come at a better moment. He asked me, “Florence when are you going to start doing work in Rwanda?” He had no idea I was in Rwanda and had just witnessed a great need.
A few days later as I took my seat on the plane headed back home to Kenya I sat next to a woman who was a missionary in the neighboring country of Burundi. In our conversation, she told me of a curriculum her team had just finalized, prepared to facilitate inner healing to victims of trauma through the local church. Yet another ‘coincidence’.
As we parted ways, I shared my email contact and requested her to share the curriculum with me. By the time I arrived home from the airport, the curriculum was in my inbox. I was in awe of God’s leading. It could not have been clearer. He indeed wants to facilitate healing through the church in this region. That is why we are here.”
Back to Philip Gourevitch; “I don’t discount the possibility, but when it comes to genocide, you already know right from wrong. The best reason I have come up with for looking closely into Rwanda’s stories is that ignoring them makes me even more uncomfortable about existence and my place in it. The horror, the horror, interests me only insofar as a precise memory of the offense is necessary to understand its legacy.”
Maybe the legacy of such darkness is the light of God and the church healing a nation that the devil meant to steal kill and destroy.
Rev Mutinda Musyimi joins the LIA team as the Director of Training at the LIA Center, Kenya.
As the Director of Training Rev Mutinda will be responsible for establishing a dynamic training function in line with LIA’s vision and mission as well as coordinating all training activities in the various Country Offices.
Rev Mutinda Musyimi is an ordained Church Minister and in addition to pastoring several churches Rev Mutinda has previously been a High School teacher and a University lecturer. He taught communications at Daystar University in Athi River, Kenya where he also served as a University Chaplain for four years. Rev Mutinda is married to Jennifer and they are blessed with three children.
We asked Rev Mutinda to share a little more about himself so you might get to know him a bit more:
What drew you to LIA?
A number of things but the bottom line is that it was an opportunity to serve God. That’s the main one, but specifically it was the kind of holistic approach that is here at LIA. I have seen many churches and organizations whose main focus is only the preaching of the word but as far as I’m concerned the approach that Jesus Christ took was very holistic. He fed the poor, he healed the sick, he was there to give guidance and equip those around him for greater things.
I come from a very humble background and I have gone through several struggles in life. Those struggles have given me a very soft spot for those who are less privileged. It gives me such joy to see someone who is less privileged empowered because though I am not a rich man I am a different person from what I was and it is because I was empowered. So I might even say I have a selfish agenda in being here because it gives me so much joy to see someone empowered in this life!
What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA?
Seeing people trained, because information is power. I am looking forward to seeing as many people – both rich and poor – trained and empowered to break the shackles of poverty and retrogressive traditions.
I also hope to create a great pool of professionals who will not only come and train people but also be inspired to continue to be agents of change in their spheres of influence.
Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing the new LIA Center in Kenya become a beehive of activity. Not just busy to be busy, but busy with the Kingdom work. I would like to see the LIA Center become a place to retreat for many people. A haven where they can get away to learn, be inspired and draw closer to the lord and the kingdom work.
What do you do other than oversee training and the LIA Center?
As part of the Senior Leadership Team I am responsible for helping lead and guide this organization both here at the HQ and in the country offices. I will also be using my gifts of preaching and teaching. That is what I have done most of my life and that is what I hope to continue doing in varying capacities.
In April this year Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the graduation of 10,736 recruits at the National Youth Service College. The National Youth Service (NYS) is a government program that was reestablished in 2013 to empower youth by involving them in important national projects. These include service in the armed forces, national reconstruction programs, disaster response and participation in transformative economic activities.
In his speech President Kenyatta commended the NYS recruits for the new reconstruction and transformation economic projects they had started in Kibera, Mathare, Kiandutu and Nyalenda. All of these projects started in 2014, and what makes this so special is that all of these communities are the same communities in which LIA works!
In fact one of our church partners in Kibera mentioned that the new roads being built, the garbage dumps being cleared, the sewer lines being connected, the new government services station being opened, they are all along the same path that the Pastor’s Fellowship would do their prayer walks. The alleys and byways that they would walk through praying for God’s transformative work have been torn down, cleaned out and are being rebuilt. Kibera is changing in a way that didn’t seem possible.
We cannot underestimate the immense power of prayer. As Proverbs says, it is the Lord, through our prayers, who truly does command the hearts of Kings.
Part of the government’s strategy in the slum upgrading projects for these communities is to set up primary healthcare medical clinics that are highly subsidized. These new government clinics have been mandated to meet a high standard of care, and bridge the gap that our wonderful staff in our LIA clinics and the medical teams that so frequently come and partner with us have filled for so long.
So as the government comes in to take up its role in these communities, LIA has decided to gradually scale back the primary health care services we provide in order to allow the government to take up its responsibility to provide reliable healthcare for the communities we serve.
This refocusing will allow LIA clinics in Kenya to bolster various medical care services that the government has yet to take up, primarily dental care. As LIA – Kenya transitions the team is excited for this new chapter as the ministry is being called to more closely to walk along side the government to better serve the communities we work with and bring about sustainable transformation.
Haiti is nearly synonymous with “aid.” For decades it has been crippled by the influx of international relief funds, resources, and services. As the first nation in western hemisphere to gain independence from its colonizers, Haiti’s rich history of strength and determination has been maligned by news headlines that tell a story of aid dependency, corruption and crippling natural disasters.
What the Life In Abundance team sees is different from the stories told by the news headlines. Our local church partners in Jacmel have dozens of people determined to break the cycle of dependency and poverty, working hard with what little they have to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families.
Haiti’s first introduction to Life In Abundance was through our primary health clinic (PHC), located in the Beaudouin community – a largely secluded informal settlement of vulnerable people displaced by the traumatic earthquake of 2010. Most of the homes are either small wooden boxes built by a relief group, or a collection of USAID tarps strategically strung together to provide just enough shelter. Some residents have been able to find work outside of the community, but the majority have very limited access to reliable income. It is in the very center of the Bedouin community that the LIA PHC team carries out their amazing work.
In Beaudouin, many young women become pregnant between the ages of 15 and 17. Because of a lack of education and, in some cases, a lack of family support, many of these young women have no idea how to care for themselves in the pre- and antenatal stages. The clinic welcomes these women into their care, providing the necessary check ups for a healthy pregnancy as well as emotional and spiritual support.
One of these young women, Marah, is especially grateful for the clinic. She moved to Beaudouin after the earthquake, and a few years later she got married and became pregnant. To maximize the health of her child, Marah wanted to make sure the baby was well monitored. She went to the LIA clinic for her initial tests because it was so close to her house. A week later she went to a government clinic to compare services. Marah said that one visit was all it took to convince her that LIA was the right clinic for her. She noted that all of the tests at the government clinic were the same ones that LIA used. Marah also felt encouraged by the morning devotions lead by local pastors, the friendliness of the nurse and doctor, and the follow up prayer that everyone offered her. She knew that there was no need to go elsewhere.
Marah had a healthy pregnancy and headed to the government hospital to give birth because the LIA clinic does not yet have funding for a proper birthing center or OB-GYN. A few weeks after returning to her small housing unit with her baby girl, Letchnaica, the little one fell ill. Marah immediately brought her baby to the clinic. There tests, care, and proper prescriptions were provided. Within a few weeks Letchnaica was back to being a healthy bundle of joy. Marah often tells her neighbors about visiting the clinic and remains friends with the staff and local pastors.
LIA Country Representative, Auguste Zephyrin, has noticed a marked change in the dependency mindset throughout Jacmel based on the community’s loyalty to the clinic as well as other church partner programs. He looks forward to strengthening bonds with our current church partners to try and eliminate that crippling way of thought. “My vision is to see the community developed, not to wait for help. Through LIA, Jacmel can be transformed and I know the model can be a good one for the community to develop.”
Despite a lack of funding for Haiti, Christ has repeatedly shown the LIA Haiti team that his grace is sufficient for our work, and his power is made perfect in our weakness. We look forward to witnessing the Lord’s expansion of the local church and his transformational plan for the region of Jacmel and the country of Haiti.
If you would like to partner with LIA to serve the most vulnerable around the world, consider joining our Spring Pledge Drive.
The Lausanne Standards Movement has selected 14 key international leaders to serve as the voice on the issue of the global church’s role in health and development. These leaders are representatives from America (4), Australia, Russia, Peru, Europe (2), Caribbean, Africa (3) and India. Dr. Florence Muindi, President/ CEO, has been chosen to serve in this network because of the exemplary work Life In Abundance International has been able to accomplish in the African and Caribbean nations through the local church.
The First International Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 was a landmark event in the history of the Church, resulting in the Lausanne Covenant, the Manila Manifesto and the Cape Town Commitment. The Lausanne Covenant “has helped to define evangelical theology and practice, and has set the stage for many new partnerships and alliances.” The Lausanne Movement’s distinct call is to connect influencers and ideas for global mission. Lausanne’s 36 active Issue Networks provide insight for challenges facing the global Church and allow members to share how those issues are being addressed and contextualized within their own regions.
One of the greatest challenges facing the Church is the lack of action to help people everywhere live lives of health and wholeness (Shalom). This was at the very heart of Jesus’ ministry on earth as demonstrated by His integration of His preaching, teaching, discipling, with works of deliverance and healing. This complete integration is rarely demonstrated in the activities of the global Church. Western attempts have been represented by what is commonly referred to as “medical missions” with a strong emphasis on curative care that relies mainly on sick people coming to healthcare facilities that have been built so that they can receive high quality treatment for their disease. This tends to cause those we seek to reach with the Gospel to praise the technology we depend, completely ignoring the spiritual aspect of the disease. On the other extreme—healing ministries of the Church that rely solely on prayer and perhaps anointing with oil to affect a healing of the diseased person deny that our current healthcare resources are God given and complementary to prayer and supplication. Beyond the Church, many Christians still seek the services of traditional healers who rely on satanic sources for treating those suffering from physical illnesses.
The newly activated Health and Development Issue Network aims to:
Connect Christian Global Health leaders and influencers to
Collaborate and share ideas and innovations about how to more fully and effectively integrate ministries of health, healing and wholeness into the work of the Church in order to
Contribute to making Christ known among ALL people.
LIA is honored to be selected as a voice in this global movement, and privileged to be among the 14 prestigious global leaders chosen.
Carley Buckingham joined the LIA team as the Director of Operations at the beginning of April.
She will be working closely with Tom Kemner. Carley is equipped with 15 years of finance, accounting, HR and leadership experience.
We asked Carley to share a bit about herself so you might get to know a bit more about her:
Tell us about your calling and conviction to serve the Kingdom. What were you doing before LIA? I desire no other path than to serve the Kingdom vocationally, pastorally, and as I go daily. I met Jesus in the local church (Southeast Christian Church) at the age of 15 – baptized in the Gulf of Mexico at 17 and began a relentless pursuit of the purest desire to (1) Align with the Trinity (2) Walk as Jesus walked (3) Advance His Kingdom. Given His grace poured out over my life, I have deep love for alignment with the Trinity as well as the local church.
I called Southeast Christian Church my church home for ten years before serving as HR Director at SECC. To call one place home for an extended time, to meet Jesus there, to advance His Kingdom and to tangibly see the beauty of “one another”—it was a pure joy and delight.
Southeast is also where I met Life In Abundance. This is another of the good gifts and strategic gifts I received from Him hands!
What drew you to LIA? While serving in HR at Southeast, I also provided oversight to our Internship Program. In 2008 we were in the process of reworking our internship experience, and wanted to add a missions component. I went to Ben Thornley who serves on the Missions team and simply confessed, “I know very little about missions, models, methods, etc., however the Leadership Team has been prayerful in overhauling the Internship experience and we would like to add a mission trip/mission experience to their year…” Within a matter of minutes Ben cast vision for a healthy missions model and recommended our Interns to see and experience the work of LIA boots-on-the-ground.
In February 2009 we embarked on our maiden voyage of inviting our interns annually to partner with the Lord and the work of LIA in Kenya – to date serving in 3 regions, Thika, Makueni and Kisumu.
The model the Lord has given Dr. Muindi is God-breathed. I’ve served on teams that entered communities that are new early in their transformational partnership with LIA, and I’ve served on teams where LIA is in the process of phasing out. I can testify to communities being transformed, hope being breathed, empowerment, sustainability, and the local church championed and Jesus reigning.
What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA? Where do I begin and how do I choose? I look forward to so many things. Firstly, partnering with the Lord as He builds the US team and expands it’s capacity to serve the program staff. Secondly, telling the powerful and evolving story of LIA to those who have emotionally and spiritually invested in the ministry. Thirdly, casting vision and seeing the tent expand for LIA (Isaiah 54:2-3) in new terrain, partnerships, and communities transformed for His name and His renown. Finally, I am looking forward to being led and challenged in partnership by Dr. Muindi, our US Council and International Board – all striving diligently to carry out Christ’s mission to give life in abundance to the most vulnerable.
What do you do other than lead operations for LIA? Scott and I have just relocated to Jacksonville, FL. This move is what caused my transition from Southeast Christian Church and opened the door for the Lord to present this opportunity with LIA. With deep roots in Louisville, KY this upcoming season will be full of re-rooting in Jacksonville, FL as we call it home; connecting with family in the region, building community, finding a local church. The Lord opened 5,000 doors for Scott and I to make this move…now we’ll root and build!
Teddy is a Social Worker serving with LIA Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. Teddy has been with LIA for over five years, serving and training the poorest of the poor in the leprosy community of Korah. His goal is to empower them to live full lives with dignity and love.
One of the programs that LIA is rolling out in the impoverished fishing community of Kisumu, Kenya, is the guardian program. In this program guardians of at risk youth are identified and the local church – and in partnership with LIA – servers to not only support them but empower them to uplift the children that are in their care.
Ruth is one of these guardians. As the sole provider for her five grandchildren, four boys and precious baby girl, it is no surprise that every waking moment is devoted to her children. Ruth, who’s gray hairs betray the youth in her face, lives on the outskirts of Kisumu in a community called Nyawita. Nyawita is one of the poorer suburbs of Kisumu town.
When asked about her grandchildren its clear that her primary priority is that they go to school and do well. Many of the residents in Nyawita do not have much more than an 8th grade education, and as a result work low wage, unskilled jobs. Ruth is adamant that her grandchildren have a better future so that is why her local church in Nyawita felt it was important to stand with her for the sake of her children.
“Its bad luck to say your age” Ruth says “and I need luck because I want to be around to see my grand children become professors”. So in her old age –that will not be mentioned—Ruth was equipped with economic empowerment and resource mobilization training through her church’s TOT. Through this training Ruth confesses her eyes were opened as she discovered how to work smarter, not harder. This not only allowed her more time with her grandchildren children but also helped her to start saving, eventually joining a revolving fund set up by LIA in her local church.
The revolving fund group is made up of other guardians of at risk youth in the community of Nyawita and although the purpose of the group is resource mobilization, they also there to support each other through the challenges of trying to raise children in Nyawita.
“My ambition is that my grandchildren never need to worry about anything other than succeeding in school. I invest my energy in them because they are the future and they deserve a future.”