Christmas Blessings from the Lessigs!

Our Kenyan home is full of reminders of our Savior's birth!

Our Kenyan home is full of reminders and symbols of our Savior’s birth!

Our Nov/Dec newsletter is finally written! The last couple of months have been particularly busy, with some unexpected travels and family events that impacted us. If you’d like to read our current e-update, click here. We are looking forward to the days ahead. Christmas Eve, reading our bibles by the fire. Christmas Day celebrating with friends with a festive bar-b-que lunch at our home. Saturday, hosting a men’s bible study, then Sunday driving south to Lake Naivasha for a week of relaxation.

If you are not receiving our updates, and you’d like to, please contact us by email. We’d be delighted to add you to our e-update list! If you are interested in donating to our ministry, funds can be given through FUND #3 at the Advancing Leaders International website.

Our advent candles, with a Kenyan flair!

Our advent candles, with a Kenyan flair!

Posted in Communication update link, E-update, Education | Leave a comment

What’s Going On?

Here’s a quick photo review of our last two months:

Our vehicle has been logging many miles as we share with many schools interested in our ministry

Our vehicle has been logging many miles as we share with schools interested in our ministry

In the last month we’ve visited 26 schools in the greater Eldoret area, sharing with them the vision of Advancing Leaders International and our ministry to educators and students. We find that many leaders are interested in booking trainings; in fact, the interest has been so high that our 2016 calendar is getting full!

Only August, Sept, and October are free…and we have schools contemplating those months for training/mentoring

Only a couple of months are free…and we have schools contemplating those months for training/mentoring

We will have the help of ALI’s international director, Dan Perrine, for the first part of 2016. His background as a high school principal and trainer will be put to good use during our mentoring of two large schools.

What a statement against the "drill and kill" mentality that exists in many high-stakes-exam schools!

What a statement against the “drill and kill” mentality that exists in many high-stakes-exam schools!

The above photo was taken during a visit to Rock Mirror Primary School. We will train and mentor their 24 teachers in April and May. RM’s directors, Gladys and Moturi, are committed to lead children into authentic learning for life, not just exams. We are excited to partner with them and train their teachers in the areas of spiritual development and academic advancement.

Our water reserve at home. Necessary when living in a village!

Our water reserve at home. Necessary when living in a village! Can you guess what the hanging bottle is for?

One of the real life issues our village has been dealing with since mid-September was a broken borehole pump that provided clean drinking water to our village neighborhood. Mark helped chair the committee that raised funds for the purchase of a new pump (almost $3,000!), and to design a water system that functions well for the community. I was drafted to research purchase options and became well acquainted with importation requirements between the UK (source of the solar pump) and Kenya. After 6 1/2 weeks without a pump, a new one was installed this week to great rejoicing. The sound of water filling our 2,000 liter tank was music to our ears! I must admit, we got very creative about water conservation in the past weeks but I hope we don’t have to employ those ideas again for a long while!

We are praying about how God will provide the way for the many one-on-one mentoring sessions with teachers that will occur in 2016. In many ways they are more discipling, than mentoring. If you are a teacher, former teacher, retired teacher, Sunday School teacher or someone who just loves how education and the scriptures intersect – please contact us about volunteering with our ministry in 2016. We’d love to have you join in!

 

Posted in Education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Latest Update

Go to http://eepurl.combB3Dlz to read our latest e-update

Go to http://eepurl.combB3Dlz to read our latest e-update

Posted in E-update | Leave a comment

Closed Door, Open Windows

News headlines of strikeThe last few weeks have been interesting ones for us. A nationwide strike in government schools started on August 31st and continued through the whole month of September! Our focus upon government schools was on hold for awhile until God opened a new door for our ministry – a relationship with a group called Kenya Private Schools Association. KPSA represents private schools throughout the country, with several hundred in the greater Eldoret area. We were invited to speak at a KPSA meeting on September 22nd, shortly after the government closed ALL schools in the country. It was a time of tension for school leaders, but we were able to bring a word of encouragement and hope. Speaking about our focus verse, Colossians 2:3, “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” revitalized many of the attendees. From that time of sharing we’ve been invited to visit 60 schools, all interested in having us come and train their teachers!

Private school leaders in the Eldoret area gather for encouragement during the national teacher strike

Private school leaders in the Eldoret area gather for encouragement during the national teacher strike

We’ve been visiting schools in Eldoret town and the surrounding countryside to determine which ones God would have us enter into a training/mentoring relationship. We have met with school directors, head teachers, and school owners, and heard their vision for their school. It is exciting to hear these stories as they reveal the “heart” of the school. At Rock Mirror Academy we met with Gladys, owner and manager. She started the school with his husband in the late 1980s and has inspired many students in her slum community. How? By displaying a rock garden showing the names of the many students who have gone on to high school and college (see below right). What a great testimony to children living in poverty; it’s a daily walk past stones that proclaim “You can make it!”. This is powerful in places where families live in hopelessness.

AIC Cornerstone School, Rock Mirror Academy, and Fahamu Primary

AIC Cornerstone School, Rock Mirror Academy, and Fahamu Primary

Another session with Esther at Fahamu School demonstrated how our ministry can help her expand her vision. She sees her young students as faith ambassadors, sending them home each night with a scriptural message and homework for the family to complete together. To date, several have come to her asking about bibles and how to become a Christian! With the training that we offer, helping teachers to teach from God’s Perspective, we feel we can help Esther expand her vision even wider!

How can you be part of the work ahead? If you’d like to help fund a training and mentoring session for a school you can donate to Fund #3 at Advancing Leaders International. Please include a note that your funds are designated toward a school training. For those interested in a more “hands on” approach, pray about volunteering with us in 2016. It’s not too early to contact us! We are currently working on our calendar for next year and planning with schools, both primary and secondary. If you’re interested in assisting for approximately a month in Kenya, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at cathyinafrica@gmail.com or by connecting with the USA director of our ministry at dan.perrine@advancingleaders.org

 

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

Hot Off the Press!

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 5.13.09 AM

Our latest e-newsletter (May – August 2015) has been sent to our prayer and support team. If you’d like to be added to our list, click here. If you’d like to read it, click here. Happy reading!

Posted in E-update, Education, Newsletter | Leave a comment

War in the World – by Mark

As I (Mark) try to get caught up on current news from the U.S. (a task not so easily accomplished, living rurally as we do), I can’t help notice a lot of talk about the Supreme Court rulings on the ACA and same-sex marriage.  I guess my reaction is “OUCH!”  Of course, from a Christian perspective, I always want to see my Creator, Savior, Lord and King lifted up and honored by the conduct of His creation, especially His own adopted children. However, sadly, this is not always the case – neither by my own personal conduct, nor the conduct of His children, the church, or the world as a whole.

Please allow me to put in my two cents on these issues.  Of course the ruling isn’t “right”!  Certainly it isn’t fair… at least to our Lord.  But really… what do we expect!  If we were living in the New Heaven and the New Earth, under the Kingship of Christ – after sin, death and hell have been cast into the Lake of Fire – THEN we should be surprised by all this.  But America is NOT the New Heaven and Earth.  America is in the same situation as the rest of the world.  It is the WORLD!  The Supreme Court ruling is, in many ways, what we should expect… and be prepared for… and be ready to give an answer why this isn’t fair to Christ.  For us… His “called out ones”… we are in a war!  The day is coming when all this sin will be done away with.  It is already conquered.  But Jesus didn’t pray to take us out of this mess… He prayed that we would be His witnesses amidst this mess (JN 17:13-19).  One Christian TV reporter said she didn’t want her son growing up having to fight his way through a “Festivus” display (a made-up holiday from the Seinfeld TV show that some have tried to make stick for real) to get to a manger scene in order to display his honor and respect.  No Christian wants that; I think it is wonderful to honor Christ by fighting, publicly and privately, to keep Christmas sacred.  But this is the world in America.  After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, Columnist Cal Thomas might have been right when he said, “Be warned America.  This is just the beginning.”  Now THAT is more like what I would expect… a mere “beginning” of what is most likely on its way.  A war against Christ.  That is the world in which we live.

Let me give a short story about living here in Kenya.   It is common to see small children, three and four years old, walking kilometers to get to school very early in the morning.  I sometimes wonder how they even know how to get to where they are going. Caning for misbehavior… is tough to watch, and hear.  Americans would struggle to see how some Kenyan parents are harsh with their children, forcing them to carry water and firewood long distances.  This is not simply out of necessity, but because the parents WANT children to perform such difficult tasks. Of course, the errands are a help to the family, but they believe it is a help to the children as well.  Have you figured out why?  Think about it a minute. Most Americans would be aghast at the way most Kenyan families raise their kids… and think about life in general. I have been told that the enforced harshness is a loving act of preparation for life.  Here in rural Africa, life can be quite challenging, especially for the impoverished.  No sense coddling the young when life is going to come at them with so many challenges.  Can you see the wisdom?Babysitter There is a similar mentality when it comes to the treatment of dogs.  Quite frankly, a dog’s life is no easy journey here in the bush.  Treat them like a pet and the attitude is that they will never be strong enough to survive out in the wild of the night. One day, a local man saw me petting our two dogs.  He felt compelled to warn me that they would become so soft that they’d never be able to protect me from an intruder.  I told him, “I will show my dogs love and affection… and feed them well.  Feel free to come on my property at night and see who the dogs protect.” Just for the fun of this story… our big and strong dogs enjoy the best of being a pet… and the best of having all of Africa as their playground, even at night.  Kenyans don’t easily come onto our property, based on their worldview of dogs and their lack of understanding of what a pet can be.

Our dog, Magellan, has many buddies among local children.

Our dog, Magellan, has many buddies among local children.

The moral of the story – our cultures are like boxes.  And they can be made of very strong walls.  They tend to blind us from God’s perspective.  Here in Kenya, Cathy and I teach God’s Word and try to expose the boxes that tend to trap many Kenyans in the way they “do education.”  We call it “Education in Christ.”  Clearly, we all have boxes that enslave us.  America is no different.  I am no different.  Can you see a “box” with which the world is trying to enslave the American Church?  If we can’t see the box, then how will we “not be conformed to the world”?  And if we aren’t truly giving God’s Word its majestic place in our lives, or if we are not chewing on the “solid food” and “constantly using it”, then how will we ever “distinguish between good and evil” (HEB 5:14)?  How will we ever break out of “boxes” in which we find ourselves enslaved?  How will we ever be “transformed by the renewing or our minds”?  America needs to break out of the box of “comfort”, or some expectation of comfort.  We may end up becoming too soft to fight the good fight of faith in a world that is full of evil and direct challenges to the Church.  The war is on.  The goal is not to have easy access to a manger scene or to have the laws of the land promote morality and righteousness.  (Though we should be convinced that Christ will someday see to that.)  The goal is to witness for Christ, win souls, disciple them to maturity.  Be part of the whole reconciliation process… right in the middle of the mess.  No need to whine and whimper like a Kenyan dog before its master.  Get the sword out… the sword of truth. We need to love them to death… to the death of themselves; and win them to a life in Christ in this world, until the next is ushered in.Bible

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mentoring Reflection

Our site of mentoring, Paul Boit Boys High School, Kapkong/Kenya

Our site of mentoring, Paul Boit Boys High School, Kapkong/Kenya

Last week found Mark, I (Cathy), our friend from the USA, Jan Tamble, and a British friend, Harriet Bell, traveling to Kapkong, Kenya to meet with teachers at Paul Boit Boys High School. We will spend the next three to four weeks together, coming alongside teachers to help them apply all that we discussed and learned about during our April teacher training.

Harriet Bell & Jan Tamble, volunteer teacher/mentors with ALI

Harriet Bell & Jan Tamble, volunteer teacher/mentors with ALI

We hope to help teachers shift their teaching methods and focus from teacher-centered, knowledge based instruction toward a more student-centered, discovery and application focus. This is CHALLENGING for any teacher, even more so in a country that has a laser beam focus on examinations. It is our hope as we work with teachers and their students that the following will be developed in each student:

* thinking that moves to deeper levels, beyond mere knowledge and comprehension

* development of teacher-student relationships

* opportunities for students to take responsibility for their own learning

* student leadership development

* an enthusiasm for the things of God

* exploration of the significance of learning from God’s perspective

We are impressed by the invitations we’ve received throughout the week to visit classes, sit with teachers to explore new ways to share learning content with their students, and opportunities to disciple teachers as they consider God’s presence in their classrooms.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not                depart from it.”    –  Proverbs 22:6

While this is a scripture most often applied to parents and child-rearing, we think it applies to teachers and students also. Fostering classroom environments where responsibility and enthusiasm for learning are hallmarks, we pray that these secondary students will “not depart from it”. Exploring learning from the perspective of God, how can anyone not approach life enthusiastically? It is our constant prayer that everyone at the school will discover the treasures and mysteries of Christ, develop a deep relationship with Him, and choose to be vessels of grace in their communities.

Cathy shares with boys in Form 1 & 2 (9th and 10th graders) about what's happening during mentoring sessions and class observations.

Cathy shares with boys in Form 1 & 2 (9th and 10th graders) about what’s happening during mentoring sessions and class observations.

During our second week of mentoring, we were granted the additional opportunity to share with the young men in the 9th and 10th grade classes during an afternoon assembly. Using Psalm 139:14 and Colossians 2:3 as our texts, we encouraged the students on their learning and faith journey. The school’s motto, “In fide vade – In faith  we go” was examined in many different contexts.

Please pray for discernment and wisdom as we continue to meet with teachers. The door is open with many of them and the bulk of our conversations are about disciplining and application of learning in the context of knowing God. It is our great desire that each teacher will enthusiastically grab hold of the chances they have to shepherd the hearts of their students!

Students work in groups to discern and apply learning objectives.

Students work in groups to discern and apply learning objectives.

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

April Newsletter

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.49.36 AM

Our April newsletter has been sent. Here is a small portion of it. If you’re not on our e-update list and you’d like to read our complete update, click here.

Posted in E-update | Leave a comment

Broadening Our Scope

As we mentioned in our recent newsletter, we are excited about our partnership with the Africa Inland Church in Kenya. We have been busy holding some regional meetings to acquaint AIC sponsored schools with our ministry. Recently we spent some time with principals, head teachers, and chaplains in Kapsabet, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from our home. We shared our vision for ministry with them and were encouraged with the response. We are praying that one of our open April training slots will be filled by some of the Kapsabet schools, mostly rural learning institutions.Kapsabet mtg

Last week we met with teachers in the Sirikwa area (greater Eldoret) where the AIC church sponsors more than 240 government schools! Under the guidance of the church educational chairman, we met with ten schools he felt were potential candidates for a “pilot training” program. This information meeting also broadened our circle of influence in an urban area.

Thanksgiving DayOur week was capped off by a “Thanksgiving Day” celebration held by the AIC churches in the North Rift area. This celebration didn’t involve turkey or even a meal. It’s purpose was to celebrate the schools’ performances on the 2014 national examinations for primary and secondary schools. The North Rift area bishop is so enthusiastic about our new partnership that he centered the theme for the celebration around our trainings, naming the theme and focus scripture after our ministry efforts. We were even given 30 minutes to address the large crowd in attendance! It was an incredible opportunity to offer encouragement to teachers and students about God’s plan for their lives, the significance of education in light of God’s purpose for His people, and a chance to place examinations in their proper place. Using Colossians 2:3 and Romans 12:2 we each spoke about the wonderful journey life can be when walking securely and confidently with Christ!

Now the hard part happens, waiting for schools to share the information with their governing boards and staffs, then contacting us about a future training. We feel confident that God has opened this door of partnership for a reason and we must be patient for the next steps to unfold. Not the easiest thing for two hard-working educators to do but we’re trying. Until then, we’re preparing the trainings that we already have scheduled, as well as prepping to host some visitors from the US and UK who are coming to assist us!

God is good – all the time – and that is His nature. We rest on that!

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

Calling All Teachers – Interested in an Adventure?

You are invited to be part of an exciting ministry taking place in Kenya!

You are invited to be part of an exciting ministry taking place in Kenya!

 

Greetings from Kenya! We are writing to any Christian educator – primary, middle, high school, or university level – who might be interested in a cross-cultural experience training and mentoring teachers in East Africa.  We are looking for educators who love Christ and would like to take part in an opportunity to disciple brothers and sisters in the Lord—fellow teachers—about how to keep education in the heart and mind of God (COL. 2:2-3) for the purpose of raising up children to be Christians who will bring the heart and mind of God into their world.

After moving to Kenya in 2011 we set out on a journey, trying to find ways to reach teachers in East Africa with the true gospel of Christ. We sought a means so teachers would become the ones to disciple their students for Christ, while teaching the government curriculum.  In East Africa, it is not like the west, where governments have prohibited virtually any kind of promotion of our Lord Jesus.  Here teachers can openly promote Christ and teach every subject from God’s perspective.  In large part this is because Christianity is a “normal” part of the culture, yet the gospel is not always clear to people. It is difficult for many teachers to see how mathematics (and other subjects) fits in the heart of God. We are looking for teachers in the USA who would like to learn more about how this works, sharing the glory of God with teachers and their students, here in Africa.

For a while, we were stumped as how to go about training teachers for lasting impact. Soon, we ran into acquaintances who had a similar vision – but had taken educational training to a much higher level.  This organization, Advancing Leaders International, employs a bold philosophy: to bring an entire school on board—leadership, community leaders, and staff—committed to multiple years of training that will lead to changed methods of teaching to more fully empower their students to change their world for Christ. Their training consists of more than seminars.  It includes action plans that a school implements, plus a mentoring program for each teacher in the school.  The mentoring helps teachers implement what was taught in the training seminar.  Trainers help plan a lesson with each teacher, observe the lesson being taught, then debrief after the lesson is over.  Normally this cycle happens three or four times with each teacher after a training.  As you can see, this is a BIG endeavor.  We immediately followed ALI’s lead and officially joined Advancing Leaders International to fulfill God’s calling for us in East Africa.

Every school training gives us more insight from God on how to continue the work, with more wisdom. To convince us of this, God has opened the door this year to train more schools than we can possibly handle by ourselves – literally hundreds of schools in Kenya!

Can you see where YOU come into play?  While a week-long seminar can be taught by two people, more facilitators are needed for the personal interaction of mentoring. Some trainings are conducted with a number of schools at one time.  If we combine two, three or four schools, training 50 teachers at once, mentoring them one by one becomes a daunting task.  It is during these mentoring times that discipleship takes place. We are able to meet the personal and professional needs and struggles of each teacher… academically, emotionally, spiritually. Is this a transformational work you would like to be a part of?

What a huge blessing it would be to have a spirit-filled teacher, or group of teachers, come to East Africa and volunteer with our ministry! The time commitment can be for two weeks, three weeks, or a month with the goal of coming alongside Kenyan teachers to assist them in implementing creative lessons, becoming more proficient in critical thinking and questioning, and learning how their subject matter fits in the heart of God. You will help teachers move from a lecture/memorize strategy to an interactive learning strategy that develops students’ thinking capacity, and helps children discover why education is important from God’s perspective, and how God has a purpose for their lives.

If you want to learn more about how you can volunteer and impact the Kenyan educational system by sharing the heart and mind of Christ, contact us and we will give you information to pray about… information that might help you discern if God is inviting you to participate in “Education in Christ” trainings and the work of Advancing Leaders International.

Blessings,

Mark and Cathy Lessig

Posted in Education, Evangelism and Outreach, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment