Sustainable impact in the Community Work of Life in Abundance International Nairobi, Kenya, January 12, 2016:
LIA Community Impact “The Overall conclusion is clear: the community work established by LIA continues to flourish even after LIA is no longer present.” In all the sites we visited, there is no question that the people are engaged in effective and transformative ways to bring change to their communities.” – Urban Initiatives.
During June and July of 2015, Life in Abundance International (LIA) reached out to Urban Initiatives to facilitate a focused study on the countries that have been impacted by the community work of LIA and to verify the long-term sustainable impact their “wholistic” model has had on the most vulnerable families and children within those communities. The results were astonishing and monumental, not only were the communities able to sustain the work LIA had partnered with in initiating, but had surpassed those efforts and continued to develop their own initiatives once LIA had passed the baton. Education, environmental transformation, social engagement and spiritual transformation were all areas that were positively affected and forever changed by the work LIA.
About LIA Life in Abundance (LIA) is a non-government organization (NGO) whose mission is “to mobilize the local Church to restore health, renew hope, and inspire lasting transformation for the world’s most vulnerable children and families”. Life in Abundance currently works in Africa and the Caribbean, with a pilot program in the US. Since 2000, LIA has partnered with foundations, churches and individual donors to implement development projects that not only transform individuals, but also result in lasting change for their communities. To view the full report Click Here to download the PDF.
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.
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.
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.”
LIA has been working in Haiti through local church partnerships and the Community Health Evangelist (CHE) model over the past two years and, though much of the work is still young, we have been encouraged to see a great change in the communities and a shift away from the dependency model that was so deeply rooted in the country.
When we began working in the region, we were met with great enthusiasm by local churches. Since then, 46 churches have been envisioned and 325 church and community leaders have completed our signature Training of Trainers (TOT) program. God has surely paved the way for transformational development in Haiti, and our church partners are enthusiastic about improving their communities.
In February of this year, LIA decided to launch a Primary Healthcare Clinic (PHC) in Jacmel, Haiti near the Beaudouin community, which has graciously welcomed the clinic and LIA model. When the Shikunguya fever epidemic hit the country in May and June of this year, over 200 afflicted community members were able to turn to the clinic for treatment and care. And when any health issue arises, the clinic has been there to help families and walk them through any illnesses or ailments spiritually and physically. Over the past seven months our clinical staff has served over 2,800 patients from the Beaudouin community and greater Jacmel area, who would have previously had little to no access to healthcare.
Aside from providing care, the clinic also offers a daily, early morning preventative healthcare classes to the community. Families are able to attend the informal courses before work and learn about how they can better promote health within their family unit and amongst their neighbors. So far, we have had a wonderful response and our staff has plans to expand this to a larger community outreach program that would foster transformational development and self-sufficiency, rather than the dependency that the country has been afflicted with. They hope to be able to work with local churches to provide family planning education and services, an immunization program for children, community health classes, nutrition and sanitation education, as well as disease prevention education.
The clinic doesn’t just plan to teach this model of self-sufficiency, they are leading by example. Our PHC staff has begun a vegetable and grains garden that will serve as a long-term sustainability project for the clinic and as an example for the community and patients. Currently we are growing and selling eggplant and amaranth in the market to help support clinic operating costs, and there are plans to begin a poultry project that the community can learn from and replicate.
We have been so encouraged by how well Jacmel has taken to the clinic and how supportive the local churches and volunteers have been in bringing abundance to their communities through working with the PHC.
We know that God has wonderful plans for the country of Haiti and we are excited to see how He will use LIA to bring restoration and hope to the people of Jacmel and beyond.
After more than a year in the making, Konjo sandals are here! We’re excited to provide beautiful shoes for you, while restoring hope for the beautiful people of Africa.
Initial quantities are limited, so don’t miss your chance to buy some now. They make great gifts for the holidays – an easy way to pass along the mission of LIA to the people in your life.
If you haven’t heard about LIA’s Konjo Shoe project yet, here’s the story:
Konjo is an Amharic (Ethiopia) word meaning “beauty.”
We believe that the most vulnerable people in the world deserve our best. That’s why Konjo was born.
The Konjo project is one of LIA’s economic development initiatives that, in conjunction with other programs, helps local churches break the cycles of poverty within their own community. The shoes are not the end product. Rather, our vision is that Konjo would serve as a catalyst toward economic independence and life in abundance for its participants.
The people involved in this project were previously unemployed or unskilled, and were identified by the local churches as some of the communities most vulnerable members. The new skills and knowledge they have obtained from their involvement in Konjo is allowing them to break free and provide for their families–giving them not only purpose, but also a better understanding of their own self worth. Learn more about the process here.
The sandals are handmade from recycled tire tread and local leather. They are highlighted by beautiful bead work and are accompanied with a burlap Konjo bag.
Although the shoes may not be perfect, they are beautiful just like the people who made them. With your help, we are redefining beauty through the Konjo project.
We encourage you to read some of the stories of Konjo participants like Jane. Or head on over to the store and buy some today!
Two days ago, the LIA International Board of Directors met to discuss and approve many items as we looked back upon 2010 – and all that has been accomplished – and forward to 2011.
In light of what was shared to our Board, it seemed appropriate to share this information with you, our partners and supporters.
The late Andrew Murray famously stated that followers of Jesus are to, “beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things ‘above all that we ask or think’.”
We serve a mighty and powerful God who is bringing about change and transformation in Africa’s poorest communities. May we not limit God by what we believe to be possible!
Please join me in thanking God for the following highlights:
The LIA Cause
– LIA staff has trained nearly 400 local church and lay-leaders in the ministry of transformational development this year.
– These 400 people join a network of 56 churches that are actively serving in their community to meet the needs of the poorest.
– Most of these churches operate openly in their context, while others serve underground.
– Community development activities are far ranging, from street children rehabilitation to shoe-manufacturing to elementary schooling, based on the community need.
– As a result of this activity, more than 44,000 people have been served by LIA through those we have trained, thus far into 2010.
We are humbled and encouraged by how the Lord is moving through the communities we serve. It is in the Lord we put our trust in light of planning for 2011.
The last of our church transformation stories from Ethiopia comes from Kara Kore Presbyterian, another church that is meeting the needs of the Addis Ababa community.
Kara Kore Presbyterian Church Community: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Having been a partner church with us since July 2006, Kara Kore Presbyterian has been able to reach their community using health education, access to organized saving and credit associations, and awareness teachings on micro finance, and sanitation.
The initial schooling provided through the church began in 2000 as an informal school seeking to teach the English and Amharic alphabets to more than 30 children. This school has since evolved to provide formal education to over 338 vulnerable children coming from families experiencing extreme poverty. This system allows children to receive an education while protecting them from having to look for low level work which could lead to exploitation because of their age and situation.
The church has also been able to provide for those that have been ostracized by their community due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Through the church many have been able to receive supplementary food, house rent coverage, and medication.
Consistent with other churches, a volunteer with experience in entrepreneurship offers training sessions to prepare beneficiaries for effective loan usage and management. Businesses that have been generated through these loans include: injera making, poultry selling, and sewing.
As we conclude our series regarding the transformation taking place through the work of some of our partnered churches in Ethiopia, it is our hope that the stories have been both encouraging and inspiring offering a glimpse into the work you have helped empower.