Have you ever gone on a God Hunt? A God Hunt begins when you teach yourself to look for God’s hand at work in the every day occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
Having been part of the planting of an inner city church during 1968-1978, I am all too aware that well-meaning people can do a lot of damage. This has been comprehensively addressed by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert in their excellent book (fast becoming the “bible” in the development world), When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … And Yourself.
The goal for the well-meaning Westerner is to work to bring any project to a point of sustainability, where the project is not dependent upon outside expertise, money or presence. The world is littered with good ideas that died when the Westerner with expertise, benign intent, and money necessarily withdrew their support.
So, I went to Nairobi—my fourth trip—with this question in the back of my mind: How do we move Global Bag Project Kenya (GBPK) to a place of self-sustainability?
You can imagine my surprise when Mary Ogalo, the Kenyan GBP Project Manager, put on my schedule a meeting with her new board of directors, the president of which was scheduled to conduct a day-long workshop on how boards function.
You can imagine my delight when I realized that an incredible synergy was developing between the Kijiji Guest House, its curio shop, and the GBP sewing room, all on the campus of Africa International University. Guests arrive, drop into the curio shop, buy something made by the seamstresses, and are invited to stop at the sewing room, where a larger display of products are available, and guests can buy or order something else. Mary reported to her board, “We have not sold anything under $600 for the last few months.” (It isn’t a lot of money, but then, this is a microfinance project we’re talking about.)
So we began to brainstorm how we could increase this synergy (and the sales). The guest houses are round (like a little village—hence the Swahili name Kijiji), but their décor has been somewhat neglected due to lack of finances. A comfortable Guest House with good food provided in the Kijiji Café, an upgraded curio shop, with inducements (blanket bags on the bed made by GBP seamstresses, cards on nightstands mentioning the sewing project just across the garden plot, Africa gift bags to take home to children, and so on) could increase the GBPK sales right at that site!
I woke one morning with the thought, What if we bring in a team of people who fix up a room or two—shop in the secondhand markets, stop at the village markets, buy fabrics for the GBP seamstresses to turn into items—couldn’t we eventually upgrade the Kijiji Guest Houses so they would attract more guests (and more sales)? What if we put a sign outside the redecorated guest room door that read:
The décor of this room has been provided
by the Global Bag Project
for the comfort of all who rest here.
All of a sudden, synergies were swirling within synergies! And as if this creative thinking wasn’t enough, Mary Ogalo was notified that Global Bag Project Kenya had been awarded its NGO (non-government organization) status—a process that only took six months instead of the usual frustrating years!
I discovered while in Kenya that the Global Bag Project was actually in the initial phases of developing a sustainable model!
Sometimes God works on the behalf of our ideas in places far away from us despite our inadequacies and our hesitations. He has bright, experienced, competent servants who love Him and want to bring His goodness to those who suffer all over the world. With a little bit of encouragement, they can take an idea farther than we ever dreamed. And in time, they won’t need us at all. That’s sustainability.
I spy God!
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.