Browse Month: October 2016

Thoughts from the Director’s husband…

img_1015Since May, 2015, twenty-eight women have gone through the Chitenge Creations Sewing School in Pretoria, South Africa. This past Friday night, nine students graduated in the first ever Chitenge Creations graduation ceremony.

The caption in the picture says: “Thoughts from the Director”. Today the Director’s husband wants to share his thoughts based on what he has observed through his wife, MJ.

I have learned much from watching MJ over the past eight years. I watched as God birthed a vision in her heart to begin Chitenge Creations in Kitwe, Zambia. From those beginnings, there are women in Zambia today who have established self-sustaining sewing businesses in their home’s. MJ’s vision has been a reminder to me to never despise humble beginnings!

Today, that vision has expanded to Pretoria where, in partnership with Cornerstone Assembly, three levels of sewing classes are offered. MJ has been told by those experienced in the tailoring industry, that students graduating from the Chitenge Creations Sewing School are receiving some of the best education available. On a weekly basis, MJ model’s excellence and I am constantly motivated to never give up its pursuit!

In the near future, Chitenge Creations will expand to the townships where 62% of South Africans live. In some of those townships, 90% of women are unemployed. Plans are underway to begin the first Chitenge Creations Sewing School in the Kwanhlanga township in January 2016. This is a dream come true. MJ has taught me to never stop dreaming!

As global workers, there is often a pressure to sell success based on numbers. There is a false perception that newsletters to donors should talk about the thousands that have been impacted by what the global worker does. Chitenge Creations is not about “the thousands” that have gone through the school. As a matter of fact, a huge part of its success is the fact that there are a maximum of twelve students in a class, giving the teacher more time for personal interaction with each student. It is this personal attention that is giving the school the reputation of a quality education. MJ’s ability to resist worrying about what others think, continually reminds me that at the end of the day, quality has the greatest impact!

Stories are what sells vision. On Friday night, I heard student’s stories, like the one who said she feared to even touch a sewing machine, until she went through the Chitenge Creations Sewing School. By the way, she stood to receive her diploma in a dress that she had made on her very own sewing machine. One student now has a flourishing business selling hand made hand bags. Another graduate is now employed by a tailor in downtown Pretoria. The husband of one of the students shared how it is their goal to open a sewing shop to expand the small business his wife has already started. I love watching MJ’s face light up as she tells the stories!img_1017-1

So there you have it, the writer of this blog is pretty proud to be husband of the Chitenge Creations Director!

Until next time…

Don

Feet of Clay

img_0986Last week, I blogged about cutting down the diseased birch trees that graced our backyard. Here’s the rest of the story. The birch trees served a dual purpose – beautification of our garden and natural posts for my hammock.

My instructions in the cutting of the trees was to leave enough height on the stumps for my hammock. Following completion of the work, I took a rest on my hammock with a cold glass of water in hand. Suddenly, with only the advanced warning of a cracking sound, my hammock, with me in it, fell eighteen inches to the ground. The stump hit me on the back of the head and neck, and the pain in the posterior part of my body made crawling to the door of my home the only option. As a result, my “ralk” (run and walk) has been reduce to a walk, that is until yesterday.

In keeping with a promise to share excerpts from the Commissioning a Lifestyle of Integrity Manual over the next few weeks, my hammock experience reminded me of something I wrote about Nebuchadnezzar.

“Throughout his reign, Nebuchadnezzar was plagued with troubling dreams that often kept him awake at night. His first dream consisted of an enormous statue that was awesome in appearance. Its head was made of pure gold…and its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. Daniel, in his interpretation of the dream, declared that Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold…but something went tragically wrong in the King’s golden head. He erected a ninety-foot image of gold, summoned all the leaders of his kingdom, and insisted that they fall down and worship the golden image he had set up…Nebuchadnezzar, confident in his human ability, lost sight of the fact that it was God who gave him dominion and power.

Nebuchadnezzar lost his sense of awe when his position and power went to his head. He forgot the limits of his humanity which led to the loss of his dignity and ultimately his integrity. If not guarded, our leadership success will lead to obsession with power. Obsession with power will lead us to compromise our dignity and tempt us to control others. Controlling others will result in corrupted practices. Corrupted practices will rob us of our personal integrity and violate the dignity of those we lead.

In the midst of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, a rock, not made with human hands, was cut out of a mountain. The rock smashed the iron and clay feet of his statue. The entire statue was broken into pieces, and the wind blew the pieces away without leaving a trace.

Here is a sobering thought. You may think that you have a head of gold in your leadership position, but Nebuchadnezzar is a reminder that all of us have feet made of iron and clay. Your talent, abilities, gifting’s and education play a key role in your climbing to a place of position, because they are gifts from God. But a loss of awe and reverence for God and failure to recognise God as our source of power, leaves our clay feet vulnerable. Far too many leaders, who once had a place of influence and impact, have been crushed by corruption, and their dignity has been lost.”img_1009Until next time…

Don

What takes years to grow…

img_0979My heart is saddened every time a tree is cut down. It always reminds me of the fact that what takes years to grow can be felled in seconds.

A number of years ago, here in South Africa, our landlord planted five Canadian birch trees that have graced our backyard since moving to Pretoria. Unfortunately, disease has riddled the trees to the point, that last week, we had to have them cut down and their dead roots removed. Watching the process reminded me of a segment I wrote in the new Commissioning a Lifestyle of Integrity manual entitled “Restoration of Dignity and Integrity”. Enjoy and consider the thought provoking read.

“A few years ago, at our home in Canada, there was a beautiful maple tree growing at the side of our house. The one who originally planted the seedling in close proximity to the foundation, forgot that seedlings eventually grow into tall trees. What started out as a small, seemingly insignificant seedling had, forty years later, grown into a beautiful tree over twelve meters tall. In the midst of its beauty, the roots beneath the soil had spread their tentacles toward the foundation, eventually causing cracks. The tree was not the problem; the roots were causing damage in the foundation. In order to save the foundation, we had to not only cut the tree down, but also remove its roots. What had taken over forty years to grow was felled to the ground in minutes. There’s a great leadership lesson for you.img_0982
Without a solid foundation of integrity, cracks will develop in our leadership influence. When we plant our leadership seedling too close to things like sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, and wild parties, we risk cracking our leadership foundation and negatively impacting our dignity and integrity. As long as you have roots, you have the presence of life. Sadly, when the roots are removed, the tree can never grow again. The same is true for leaders. I challenge you today to keep your leadership roots alive by replanting them in the soil of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – the virtues of dignity and integrity.”

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).img_0985

Until next time…

Don


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