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President's Corner

Common Ground: Democratic Republic of Congo

A Note from the President

Four years ago, on my first trip to DRCongo, we traveled to a remote town in the far northeast, close to the border with Central African Republic (CAR) and what was then Sudan. At that time, the town of Dungu's population had swelled with people escaping the murder and mayhem caused by Joseph Kony's LRA militia. Staying overnight wasn't possible. Though the church leaders we met and ate and prayed with were overjoyed to know someone from outside cared, they insisted we leave before nightfall.

Earlier this month, I returned to the same place. Four years later, peace seems possible. The widows and orphans and church members who didn't have enough to eat made sure that they planted some of what we sent to eat. Today, they have three 20 acre farm plots. They are feeding themselves and their neighbors too. Did I mention they also started several churches? Once displaced, this group of women who had nothing are now the core of a new community.

The eastern part of Congo still smolders in a 20-year old war. And through much of this troubled region, Denis Hangi nurtures his teachers and students, leaving behind men and women of the Bible who speak truth and love into towns and villages. Truth and love are needed here - many homes in the town of Kitchanga were burned in a firefight. Some of our teachers lost their homes and lives of church members. These words from the Psalms mean more to me after each visit to Congo: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1 NIV)

Common Grounds with Congo will begin in 2014. Let me know if you'd like to be part of helping us teach truth so love spills out into the streets and towns of the region.

2014: A Letter from the President

The important work of providing Bibles and affordable, accessible theological education has helped thousands of local church leaders across Africa better serve their church communities. It’s given us stories of hope from places like the South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where despite ongoing violent conflict, pastor graduation ceremonies still persist as joyfully as ever. Or in rural Malawi, where poverty rates run notoriously high, but African Leadership students and graduates are planting new churches from scratch and experiencing promising growth, numerically and spiritually. This success has certainly been transformative inside the church community. But our graduates and church leaders aren’t looking for limited transformation – that’s not what the Gospel they’ve come to know represents. They’ve decided, and African Leadership as a whole has decided, that it’s time to move outside church walls and respond to not just the church community, but the entire community. The Common Grounds Initiative is that response.

Common Grounds represents the link between spiritual needs and physical needs. It represents pastors moving out from behind the pulpit and into the fabric of their communities. It is the Rwandan graduate who took his pastoral education and turned it into pastoral action – creating a community-based orphan care program to fund school fees through his church. Or the Kenyan graduate who connected the message of Gospel healing with the realities of physical healing – organizing support groups and outreaches for people living with HIV/AIDS in an overlooked slum.

2014 will see the introduction of several Common Grounds communities. We’re excited to be able to share the unique vision of each one – a vision distinctively determined by the community itself. I hope you’ll join us this year as we, the church in America, work to secure a “common ground” for the church and its people in Africa.

Sincerely,

John Walter President | African Leadership

P.S.: In the meantime, we’ve put together a short “who we are” video as we move into this next season. I think it captures the spirit of where we are headed and hope you will take a minute to watch.

A means of becoming closer to God

Works of love are always a means of becoming closer to God. Mother Teresa is more than just the author of these words; she is most certainly a paragon of the idea as well. Throughout her time as teacher, nun, and missionary, Mother Teresa’s works of love expanded beyond an eternal focus – she saw the importance of also ministering to the temporal realm. She enrolled in basic medical training so that she could serve slum communities in India with both the Gospel and health care. She created a hospice for those suffering terminal illnesses, founded the Missionaries of Charity, and built a leper colony that allowed lepers to live beyond the definition of their disease.

Jesus’ ministry is also a paragon of the idea. Jesus healed lepers, the blind, the sick. In his response to a leper asking to be cured, he said, “I am willing. Be clean.” (Matthew 8:3) He spoke beyond medical health concerns to spiritual health concerns, ministering to the doubters and those lacking faith.  Our well-being was and is important to our Father, and through Jesus and his teaching, we have proof that faith can make us well.

Are you a paragon of Mother Teresa’s words and Jesus’ example? In reflection of HIV/AIDS Day on December 1, we’ve searched ourselves for this answer at African Leadership. Whether addressing medical health, spiritual health, or areas other than health, we have the chance to perform our own works of love and grow closer to God through them. After restoring life to another leper, Jesus stated, “This will show them you have been healed.” How do you show you have been healed?

 

*Italics quoted from “A Simple Path” by Mother Teresa.

 

Life without a hero

A Statement from African Leadership President John Walter

A while back, my family hosted an African leader in our home. Over the course of several conversations, it became clear that our friend didn't have a hero in his life. People he looked up to - sure. But a hero? That seemed a step too far. Maybe too many disappointments? It's hard to tell, but I wish he had been with us the other night as news broke about Nelson Mandela's final hours so that together we might reflect on the passing of a great man. 

Nelson Mandela, resilient and exemplary, humble and gifted, jailed yet free. He charted the unchartered, marked up the blueprint, became the dictionary entry for "leadership in hard places."

Photo by Allan Tannenbaum

Where is it written that leaders like Mandela have to be "one in a million?" After signing a new Constitution into law in 1996, he declared that "amongst Africans, Coloured, Indians, and whites there are good men and women without exception . . . The duty of the real leaders of South Africa is to identify those good men and women in all these formations to create an environment where they can pool their talents, their knowledge, their skills, the expertise to pool it so that we can as South Africans benefit from those skills."[1] Words are easy - but Mandela did his best to match his reality to his rhetoric.

Perhaps the answer to these questions - "What? No hero?" and "Why is Mandela so rare?" - can also be found in Mandela. "I am," he said, "an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances."[2]

So what would I say to the African leader with no heroes? Maybe he and those like him don't realize that they in fact are living in extraordinary circumstances, circumstances that need ordinary people of courage and conviction like them. Heroes like Mandela paved the way for them.

And why so rare, leaders like Mandela here and abroad? Maybe, just maybe, Mandela really believed he was just an ordinary man, but we know that in the extraordinary circumstances of his life, he drew strength from an unshakeable conviction, and from that, shook the world.


[1] Speech given December 10, 1996. Available nelsonmandela.org/speeches.

[2] (2013, December 6). Editorial: Nelson Mandela: a man of magnetic dignity, was an inspiration to all. Montreal Gazette. Retrieved December 6 2013 from montrealgazette.com.

 

Orphans: Symptoms or Systems?

"Symptoms or Systems" is an occasional series that delves into the general complexities of life, particularly as they relate to the role of the church. The phrase “symptoms or systems” mimics the natural and ongoing dilemma faced by those active in the world’s hard places, of which Africa has more than its fair share. Like many organizations, we find we need to exist somewhere in the awkward middle – called to respond to the suffering of the overlooked and undervalued (those who suffer the symptoms of a fallen world) while at the same time being committed pursuers of biblical justice (going upstream to take on the systems that perpetuate the symptoms). This series serves to examine and embrace the tension that lives in that awkward middle. Ready for a big number? Okay, here it comes… 90%. That’s the percentage of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS that live in sub-Saharan Africa [1]. In Zimbabwe, 16% of those under 17 have lost both parents due to AIDS [2]. Look around your kid’s school -- in a typical classroom, four kids of the 24 would be without parents because of a preventable scourge. If ever there were a classic symptom/system conundrum, this would be it.

Orphans occupy a special place in the Bible. They can work on the hearts of even the most jaded. I’ve seen so many people go to Africa simply to explore, but then come home with a baby or a child. They see the symptoms of a broken world surrounding them and they react with compassion. They rail against a system they cannot change, even while they revel in the joy of sacrifice and love that is becoming a parent.

This juxtaposition reveals undeniable value in taking a step back to identify and address both the symptom and the system. As an organization, we have learned firsthand how important it is to keep kids in families. When such intrinsic community is combined with accessible education and caring teachers, you can begin to heal the hole created by the symptoms that linger long after the child’s parents are gone. Knowing this, we have to participate in their lives; God put them in our path and put resources in our hands.

While this may be true for the symptom, perhaps it is not our participation that best reshapes the system. Just as we’ve seen how important it is for children to stay in family units, we’ve seen how important it is for local leaders, be it pastors, teachers, or mentors, to speak into the systems that bring the symptoms to bear. African pastors discipling eager young pastors, African teachers discipling eager young students – children and young adults, orphans and non-orphans, learning to live out of the life-changing and live-saving truth of their adoptive Father - so that they become the agents of cultural change, going upstream of the symptoms to amend how we live, act and love.

This is the African Leadership approach. It is practical and strategic, building faith and future, addressing both the symptoms and the systems of an untethered world – one we may not be able to fully comprehend, but one we can certainly work to change.

Come with us to Africa, won’t you? And see for yourself why you might need the continent more than it needs you.

 

[1] It should be noted that sub-Saharan Africa is the predominantly Christian part of the continent.

[2] UN AIDS Global Report, 2010, p.114

Not By Bullet Or Drone

Though the physical battle at the Westgate Mall in Kenya has drawn to a close, the moral war rages on. For all the intelligence intercepts, military raids, and advanced weaponry we possess, we have to face reality – this battle will not be won by bullets and drones. COMPETING RADICALISMS

Many – but not all - observers of Islam view extreme acts of violence (such as the attack on Westgate) as radical perversions of the core tenets of that faith. There are many factors that contribute to such terrible acts (check out this interesting BBC article) but one thing is clear: the center of this ideological and theological perspective is shifting south and west, from the “stans” (Pakistan, Afghanistan) to north and east Africa.

Of course, it is also apparent that the future center of Christianity will also be in Africa, suggesting that this continent and the world to come will be more contentious than the world to date.

In the middle of this fray, we find “the church.” Hardly a monolithic “the,” “the church” is fragmented, diminished and dismissed. And it is the only hope for Africa’s future, if…

…  If the church responds to “the other” as “another,” (as in “another of God’s children, frail and fallen”).

…  If the church embodies redeeming love and perseverance.

…. If the church speaks with authority unsullied by practices.

Tall orders. A lot of conditional “ifs.” And, by the way, these same conditions apply to the US church as it struggles to adapt to a rapidly and radically changing culture all around it.

So, is it time to surrender? Or, to roll up our sleeves and get to work?

I, for one, am rolling up my sleeves. It’s why I joined African Leadership, because “the church” in Africa is asking us to help, and in so helping we too (“the church” in America) will also be made to see our own reality. We seek to contribute to one continent’s moral and cultural foundations, and end up shoring up our own. Where I come from, that sounds like a “two-fer” (as in “two fer the price of one”) and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

 

The Other Peace Talks

UPDATE: This round of peace talks concluded at the end of September with mixed reviews. Comments from M23 and the Ugandan mediator seemed favorable, but towards the end of the month attacks broke out and the same old blame game ensued. But we were blessed to hear from Denis, the DRC Country Director, on October 1 with much more positive news. He just held a graduation ceremony for pastors completing their training in the South Kivu province. Said one of the graduates, "We discovered many things especially our old mistakes done by ignorance and to know how to defend our doctrine as we are surrounded by many religions: Muslims, Bahai, Kibangu, Jehovah Witness and so on."

They had a guest at the celebration, too — the Archbishop Mastajabu. His words encouraged the graduates: "To train one pastor is more important than 100 believers of a church having a pastor not trained and this is the problem we are facing nowadays." He sent this picture of the ceremony.

 

Africa in the News: Democratic Republic of Congo

Just as the debate about intervention in Syria hinges on the effectiveness of agreements made in peace talks between the United States and Russia, the stability of the Democratic Republic of Congo similarly hinges on the effectiveness of a new round of peace talks between DRC government leaders and M23 rebels.

The Big Picture The DRC has been in varying stages of war since 1996 and has seen an estimated 5.4 million people killed. In April 2012, the situation was further complicated by government forces clashing with a group called M23, a reference to a March 23 agreement that rebels feel has been unfairly disregarded by the government. A mainly Tutsi group (you may recall the Tutsi are the ethnic group that was largely targeted in the Rwandan genocide of 1994), M23's uprising has left hundreds of thousands of Congolese displaced and created communities full of refugees that have witnessed unthinkable crimes.

From Our View The city of Kitchanga knows this story all too well. Fighting here left 200 dead and 570 houses destroyed earlier this year. The city is home to some of African Leadership's Applied Education students, and their teacher, Bulenda Placide, lost his home in the conflict. Country Director Denis Hangi, with the backing of African Leadership, helped Pastor Bulenda rebuild his home, but the larger picture, Denis stressed, is that tribal hatred is resurfacing as a consequence of the ongoing violence.

The outcome of this new round of talks could have a significant effect on our students and teachers across the country. Leading up to September 10, the first day of the peace talks, President Kabila threatened to continue fighting if a deal wasn't made, and rebels staged several attacks in eastern DRC. Please join us in prayer for a successful mediation, a peaceful ceasefire, and true healing for the entire country; the coming days will be very important to the future of peace for Kitchanga and the DRC as a whole.

If the Democratic Republic of Congo is a hard place in which you'd like to serve, African Leadership is currently looking to fund trauma-healing training at the request of Denis for pastors like Bulenda and others in similar situations across the DRC. You can donate to those efforts here.

The Westgate Massacre

 A Statement from African Leadership President John Walter 9-22-2013

In his statement today, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said, "Let us continue to wage a moral war even as our troops continue the physical battle."

He was, of course, speaking to a nation shocked by al-Shabaab's brazen and violent attack on the Westgate Mall and the ongoing hostage stand-off that continues into today (Sunday). The "moral war" results - all too often in a fallen world - in physical battles. In this case, it is Kenya's armed forces standing with the government of Somalia, its neighbor to the east, against an al-Qaeda linked militia.

This "moral war" (to use President Kenyatta's phrase) is not new; it is ancient. It has taken different forms over the long train of history. In the present time it seems to be between those who pray and work for a heaven best described by the prophet Isaiah, and those for whom such a picture is anathema. "They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain..." (Isaiah 11:9a ESV, emphasis added). Former enemies, the wolf and the lamb, live together in peace. Contrast that image with the carnage from the Westgate Mall to see a perfect juxtaposition of worldview between those who work for peace and justice, and an extreme few with warped visions of power and hegemony.

This battle will not be won by bullets or drones; it will be won by God's people exhibiting his boundless love and mercy. It is a war of ideas and of loving labor that stems from this radical belief: that the universe's Master loves all his creation and creatures and wants them to experience reconciliation with him and with each other.

Yesterday, that battle found its way to the Westgate Mall: nearly 60 dead, hostages still being held as I write this, a familiar oasis turned tempting target, a place known to anyone who has spent time in Nairobi.

The attack on Westgate reminds us all of the importance of pastors who find themselves on the front lines of this moral war. The more they can be equipped to explore, explain, and expose the depths of God's grace and mercy, the more the radical ideas of the Bible can soften and replace the physical war.

Most foreign policy thinkers today believe that the Cold War was won not by military might, but by ideas. My wife and I lived and volunteered in Poland in the early 1990s, taking part in the great cleanup after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. I joined African Leadership because the battle of ideas has shifted to Africa, and I am called to it. Our work isn't just about training pastors to give better sermons; our work is equipping pastors for the front lines of this moral war, this clash of visions of heaven that sadly is worked out over the lives of too many innocents.

Let us pray for the safe release of the hostages and for those families grieving today and in the days to come after the news cycles move on.

"Why I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me"

REDEFINITION We recently relaunched a campaign called “I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me.” This statement makes sense if you’ve been to Africa; it probably sounds backwards if you haven’t.

Remember when Jesus read from Isaiah in his hometown?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

After reading, Jesus sat down and said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” The crowd came expecting miracles, expecting to witness Jesus physically restoring sight or freeing captives – the “blind” and the “captives” being people other than themselves.   Instead, they got the famous “Jesus twist.” That’s where he takes the seemingly plain message of the Bible and turns it inside out, in this case making it clear that:

  • Those without money are not necessarily the “poor,”
  • Those in bondage or prison are not necessarily the “captives,”
  • Those without sight are not necessarily the “blind.”

The crowd overlooked the extraordinary fulfillment of Scripture right in their own backyard, paralyzed by their expectations of what Jesus was supposed to do. Too bad the story didn’t continue with the crowd exclaiming, “I need Jesus more than Jesus needs me.” It makes sense to us years later; it would have sounded backwards at that time.  The central idea Jesus was trying to get across? In the midst of confused expectations, the Messiah – God himself – had arrived.

The central idea of “I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me?” When you remove your expectations and see yourself as “poor,” “blind,” “captive”– that’s when you discover real joy. I hope you’ll watch the video and get a taste of the “Jesus twist,” where everything is backwards but finally makes sense.

 

 

It always sounds crazy in the beginning

Dying your hair a vibrant and undeniable shade of pink. Voluntarily living below the poverty line for a week. Running 13.1 miles despite having no history in long distance running. Seeing a paralytic stand up and walk with natural and effortless use of his legs.

If I told you that these were the endings to four different stories, you’d think those must be some pretty crazy stories. But that’s the thing: it always sounds crazy in the beginning.

OUT ON A LIMB

When Jesus entered Capernaum, crowds filled any and all available space for the chance to hear him preach. Among those in the crowd vying for a spot in Jesus’ presence was a paralyzed man who had come to be healed. Four other men had carried him there on a mat.

Can you imagine the conversation that could’ve happened between those five men when they decided to brave the crowds to see Jesus? When they decided to carry a man incapable of walking there on his own with the belief that he could be walking home without their help? It must’ve sounded crazy in the beginning, but we know how the story ends. The four men cut a hole in the roof, lower their friend down to Jesus, and in front of skeptics and believers alike, Jesus forgives the man’s sins and ends his paralysis. Crazy belief – great reward.

PURPOSEFULLY CRAZY

Mocha Club, the Community Development arm of African Leadership, launched a campaign called Purpose Project late last summer. Purpose Project takes seemingly crazy ideas, adds a larger purpose, and gives individuals the little push they need to see their ideas come to life.

Brittany always wanted bright pink hair, but was hesitant to make such a drastic change until she found out about the Women at Risk program in Ethiopia. Empowered by the belief that she could make a difference in the lives of these women, she set a goal to raise $1200 and pledged to buy the dye and make the change if her goal was met. $2800 later, her belief was rewarded, her hair is pink, and she has a bold new way to tell people about her heart for Africa and Women at Risk.

A group of university students wanted to live a week under the poverty line, pledged to do so if they raised $2400, and then watched as their crazy idea brought awareness to education projects in Kenya. A mother in Illinois wanted to face the challenge of running a half marathon, pledged to do so if she raised $1000, and will now be running 13.1 miles in September while bringing clean water, a runner’s best friend, to communities in Africa.

IN THE END

The end result when belief is coupled with courage is tremendous, even if it seems absolutely crazy in the beginning. What are you willing to be bold for? What have you always wanted to do but just needed a little extra motivation? Visit blog.themochaclub.org/purpose-project to put a purpose to your crazy idea. The reward you stand to gain is too great to pass up.

Hard Places. Huge Price.

"watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect."
The paradise? Rwanda.
The devil? Genocide.
The speaker? Roméo Dallaire, force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda.
This is how he recalls those 100 fateful days in 1994 for his book Shake Hands with the Devil, published ten years ago. Many of us know his story of courage, how he protected those he was ordered to abandon, how he stood firm while others fled. Less well known is the huge price he paid because of that courage. PTSD. Attempted suicide. A million unanswered "What if…?"s. He is a man who did what he could, and it cost him dearly because it could never have been enough.

 

My wife and I lived in Krakow, Poland in the early '90s while Spielberg was filming Schindler's List. Here is another story of someone who did what he could where he was. Oskar Schindler's price? He died penniless in post-war Germany, one business and personal failure after another.

 

Those who witness great evil are changed forever. You can't walk away from tragedy and devastation unaffected. Hard places across the African continent are filled with people who have experienced such evils up close and personal, their lives forever changed as a result. Yet seeds of hope remain.

 

All of us at African Leadership feel called to hard places and tough issues. We approach this work soberly, of course, but also with optimism. We know that great evil has to yield to the even greater love of God who, as Bono says, "is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them."

 

John Walter, President

 

P.S. If, after all of this, you are interested in exploring what might be in store for you in a hard place, please consider joining our President's trip next January. This journey will specifically focus on what it is like to work in a place where the only thing that works well is evil. Interested? Drop me an email.

“Et Tutu”

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV).

How often have we heard this verse but really only digested the first portion? Reading on, it’s a two-fer: a balance and a tension between social justice and personal integrity. Too often throughout history, the church has divided into camps, turning the “and” into an “or.” When some see the balance and some see the tension, we all miss the beautiful messiness of living in the in-between. But the wrong conjunction here creates an opportunity for us.

Many years ago, the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the church to unite both sides of the messy conjunction: “Apartheid is too strong for a divided church,” he declared. When we at African Leadership use the phrase “INVESTdeep,” this sense of living in a chaotic and challenging reality is very present. We work with the leaders of Africa’s small- and medium-sized churches to offer a community-based two-year Bible college program that encourages leaders and students alike to LIVEdeep in their faith. These men and women come to understand more of what it means to lead lives of integrity, shedding the world’s constant messages of “pollution.”

Many of you have also supported our work aimed at reaching the most marginalized communities in Africa, including women and children “in distress.” Frankly, some days it would simply be easier to just do one or the other: to focus on helping orphans and widows in these communities or to strive to eliminate the pollution of the world in these communities. But at the end of the day, we have a clear statement of that which is seen to be pure and faultless. Like you, we are on a journey to that place of unity. Let’s take that trip together. Speaking of trips, we’ve got several forming for later this year and early next. Drop me an email if you’d like more information. I’d love a chance to show you how this verse comes to life in Africa.

Emerging

In Uganda, Geoffrey Ocan's leadership has led to the creation of many new faith communities. In Kenya, I was privileged to be at New Dawn Academy alongside librarian Margaret Chao as a new electronic library stocked with e-readers was commissioned. I watched as the students taught the elders how to use the new e-readers. Right here at home, a 10-year-old girl heard hard stories about Africa and resolved to be part of the answer. Today, the 10-year-old girl is now a 19-year-old young woman whose resolve was and is the inspiration behind Ellie's Run for Africa. Ellie's Run, now in it's 9th year, is a staple in Nashville and a consistent supporter of New Dawn Academy.

The common thread? In each case, a young man or woman looked around, saw a situation, and responded. And where they boldly went, others followed. That is the essence of leadership.

You might have noticed the words "invest deep" showing up in our communications recently. African Leadership is called to "invest deep" across the full span of the African continent. Invest means to “use, give, or devote for a purpose.” Deep is defined as “extending far down from the surface.” Invest deep accepts the reality of working in a broken, messy, and unpredictable world. But in the middle of that chaos, transformative leaders like Geoffrey, Margaret, and Ellie make all the difference.

Please let me know directly of any topics you would like us to cover or with anything else that's on your mind.

Hard Places. Invest Deep. - 4.17.13

WHAT DOES African Leadership Inc (ALI) DO? AND WHY?

OUR PURPOSE Our purpose is to make our heavenly Father’s heart apparent in Africa’s hard places, so that lives and communities give witness to it. Christ did this by combining action with information, deeds with words. Our two program areas - Action and Education reflect his approach in the 23 African countries we work in. We invest deep in these hard places. Our BUILD deep approach to action means we stick around long enough – and through enough – in order to see the kind of change that sticks. It’s one thing to build a high school building in a slum. It is quite another to serve its leadership through good times and bad long enough to see graduates of the program come home to start an elementary school in the same neighborhood where the local school is out of financial and logistical reach of most families. Our LIVE deep education program goes deep with 13,000 enrolled pastors, church planters and local leaders. Their teachers guide them through a two-year college curriculum that sends them out better equipped to live and teach the Gospel. By the way, many of these African teachers leading these classes are college trained, and all of the classes are held in locations close to pastor’s homes. This helps ensure that the local leader remains engaged in their local community. Our fashionABLE subsidiary is a textbook case of how an integrated approach of Action and Education can really make a difference. It started with counseling girls and women forced into prostitution, which grew into skills training for them, which resulted in a woman-owned weaving business in Ethiopia. Today, we buy their finished product and sell it profitably here in the US under our fashionABLE label. Locally generated profits helps the weaving business stay open; US generated profits get contributed back to the cause. But here’s the rub. These things simply take time. Patience. Persistence. Tolerance of mistakes and setback. In places where few things – if any – work like we are used to here, we cannot apply timeframes or expectations from here. That’s what it means to invest deep. And that’s what it takes in the hard places. We know this is not for everyone. We know that. But for those who want to participate in the adventure of life lived to its fullest, we invite you to join us and invest deep in the hard places. You’ll warm the Father’s heart when you do. And your own heart too. And the hearts of those who are close to you. And those who don’t even know you yet, for adventure and hard stuff are alluring. Join us. JOURNEY deep to hard places with us, and when you come back you will never. Be. The. Same.