January 26, 2015

It’s the last week of January, which means gyms are still full and people are still excited about finally keeping their New Year’s Resolution. For some reason, the thought of January brings out the big planner in all of us. We read articles about how the “super successful” plan their year after Christmas, and we set high standards for all that we will accomplish in the upcoming year. Think about it: if we all actually achieved our New Year’s Resolutions, our country would be incredibly fit, very well read, and probably even well traveled. Yet none of those things are true. Why? Because our January plans are actually intentions, not resolutions. And intentions never accomplish anything. No one ever got healthy by talking their way into muscle growth.

Peter Drucker once said “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” Many of us have great ideas and fantastic plans, yet we fail to put in the work necessary to translate those ideas into action. Why? Because talking about change is far easier than working towards change.

In order to change yourself or change the world, then take the time to turn your dreams into action steps. If that process has you stumped, then ask yourself this question: what is the very next thing that needs to be done towards accomplishing my goal?

Answering that question could cause you to change the world.

Walking Miracle

Grace had given up. As she lay in her hospital bed, she knew she was going to die. Two weeks before, her children had helped her walk to the hospital for her check-up — she had been too weak to walk herself. This time, though, she hadn’t gone back home after the check-up. She was dying.


In 2010, Grace’s husband discovered he was HIV positive. In response, he decided to take his life. He drove his car into an oncoming truck. Their oldest son was in the car with him. The son survived, but is now physically disabled as a result of the crash. He had surgery on his right leg and his back, but is still crippled. Grace was left to deal with him and three other children.

After the incident, Grace became depressed and her health deteriorated. She rarely left the house expect for frequent hospital visits. She just kept getting sick. In 2012, she was admitted to the hospital and while there it was confirmed she was HIV positive. When she was released from the hospital, she went home to discover that she had been completely deserted. She lived on a compound of twenty houses where her husband’s family lived. After hearing that she was HIV positive, they all moved away. In a compound of twenty houses, Grace and her four children were now the only people.

Sick, widowed, deserted and now confirmed HIV positive, Grace could not see how to move forward. She had no way to care for herself or to provide for her children.

Grace’s sickness and depression worsened. She only left the house when she needed to go to the hospital. When her children weren’t helping her get to the hospital they were on the streets. She wasn’t in a position to have them in school and they were begging on the street to help support her hospital expenses and to eat.

In early 2014, Grace was completely bed-ridden and was close to death. She had been taking her antiretroviral treatment prescribed by her doctor for her HIV, but she was so malnourished that even when she was able to keep the drugs down they were ravaging her already weak body.

At one of her regular check-ups, her doctors saw how close to death she was and she was admitted. As far as she was concerned, this was the end. The worst part for her was wondering what would happen to her children when she was gone.


It so happened that a nurse who was newly assigned to her was a former CFA client. This nurse had gotten her job in large part due to her CFA certificate and a recommendation from CFA’s Health Counselor, Loise-Mary. The nurse convinced Grace to enroll in the program.

CFA’s counselors starting visiting her in the hospital and giving her the food supplements that are part of the program. As her body was given proper nutrition, Grace’s medicine started having a positive affect and her strength began to quickly return. After a few weeks, she was released from the hospital.

After being released, Grace could begin attending her CFA center days and empowerment seminars. The counseling she received and the community she found in the program helped her overcome her depression. With the business skills she learned in the empowerment seminars, she started a produce business. With the money earned, she enrolled her children in school. Her oldest son (who is still disabled) performed so well that he was given an academic scholarship to study at one of the best high-schools in the area.

Also as a result of counseling, Grace re-dedicated her life to Christ and reconciled with her family. She now attends church regularly with her mom.


Loise-Mary and Grace became great friends through the program. When they are around each other the joy and love between them is palpable. Lois-Mary loves to tell Grace’s story and when they are around each other, sometimes Lois-Mary’s eyes shine bright and her voice becomes serious and rich with meaning, and she says “Grace, you are my walking miracle. I thank God for you.”

Keys to Growth in 2015

January 14, 2015

At CARE for AIDS, we understand that the same activities done in the same way at the same scale as last year will produce similar if not worse outcomes.

Therefore, in order to achieve our goal of 27.5% growth in 2015, it will take bold and innovative strategies. But, as we began to create our ministry plan for 2015, we faced a familiar challenge. We had more ideas and opportunities than our team and resources could possibly execute. So, how do we decide which activities will be the best use of our limited resources? At this point in the conversation, it is easy to drift towards the strategies that are best suited toour skills and preferences, but we went a different direction.

We needed to first answer three simple questions:

  1. Who is our audience?
  2. What do they value?
  3. How can we deliver that to them?


Only after sufficiently answering those questions could we ask, “Based on our capacity and competencies, which of these values can we best fulfill for our supporters?”

We settled on three values that we hope to meet for current and prospective partners of CARE for AIDS in 2015. Under each of these values, there are at least a dozen strategies for delivering that value to you, our parters, but you will have to wait to find out what we have in store!

Our audience values that CARE for AIDS is:

  1. Accessible – Each person can know and be known by CARE for AIDS. They can access our team members and develop a personal relationship with us. This relationship not only builds trust, but it allows us to serve you and communicate to you according to your passions and preferences. On top of that, every person has the opportunity to visit Kenya and interact with the project and people firsthand. Despite our growth, we want to retain that small feeling as long as possible.
  1. Credible – This is particularly important for those who are encountering CARE for AIDS for the first time. The first impression is critical. Does this organization seem professional, knowledgeable, and reputable? Soon after, someone would be curious about our impact, leadership, and stewardship. They may also want CFA to be validated by a trusted third-party. We want to be prepared for the people seeking this confirmation of credibility, but nothing builds credibility faster than the endorsement of a friend. Therefore, in 2015, we will continue to equip you to be an ambassador on our behalf.
  1. Experiential – Instead of hosting events that simply communicate information about CARE for AIDS, we want to create environments for people to come to build community with likeminded people and/or receive content that is relevant to their life and leadership. Conveniently, this also satisfies the values of accessibility and credibility. You can expect to see some of our staple events in 2015 but keep an eye out for two or three new events that we think will add value to your life.

I was reminded recently of a simple phrase that Nancy Duarte uses in her book, Resonate. She reminds readers, “The audience is your hero.” You are our hero! We could not realize our vision of serving people in Kenya without your help. You add so much value to our lives and ministry. I hope we can do the same for you in 2015!

As a Family

January 12, 2015

In 2010, Moses was diagnosed with HIV. On the same day, he discovered he also had tuberculosis.

A husband and father to two young sons, Moses was paralyzed by the thought of sharing his diagnosis with his family. Less than a year later, Moses entered the CARE for AIDS program and learned that he was not alone.

“I told my wife,” he says, “and then I told neighbors and friends…my children still didn’t know why I was sick, but I learned how to interact with them in a better way.”

In a sad turn of events, Moses learned that his wife, Millicent, was also HIV positive. But, thankfully, she was able to participate in the program as well and start on the regimen necessary to properly treat the disease.

“We have learned about positive living through the program,” Moses says proudly. “Positive living is accepting your status, taking medication, and getting proper nutrition. And now I know how to be a responsible father and build healthy relationships with my neighbors.”

Today, Moses has learned how to budget his finances and save his money in case of unexpected hospital bills or other expenses. He’s also opened a youth bank account in order to save for his children.

“I was weak before I entered the program, and I shied away from working,” Moses continues. “But now I know the joy of an intimate relationship with Jesus. My wife is a hard-working woman, and she loves God, too. He is our motivation to keep going.”

“Whatever we do,” Millicent adds, “we do as a family.”


January 7, 2015

Its the time of the year when everyone buys a gym membership and goes on juice fasts, cleans their office and hangs a fresh list of resolutions for the coming year on their bulletin boards. I love the tradition of resolutions, and adore the clean slate of a new year, but after many years of half hearted attempts to work out more and eat healthier, I am taking a new approach to my goals for 2015.

Angela Lee Duckworth is a psychologist who started her career teaching in the New York public school system. After her first year teaching she noticed a trend…the students who were technically the smartest and most talented were not necessarily the ones who succeeded in the classroom. What she observed was that the students who worked the hardest, regardless of their natural IQ, were the ones who had the greatest success over time.

After years of research in multiple school systems, businesses, and Universities, she and her colleagues found that the one common characteristic of successful people across all fields and cultures is not IQ, talent, or social intelligence…

Its grit. 

“Grit is having stamina” Angela quotes in a TED talk about the subject (linked below) “Grit is living life like it is a marathon, not a sprint.” 

This is both encouraging and daunting…as it turns out, talent has little to do with success. Plenty of naturally gifted people lack to grit to be successful over the long term. But what does this mean for you and for me as we finalize our New Years resolutions? It means that if we have any hope in being successful by December 31st of this year, we have to work really hard, every single day.

Take this week to look around your office or your community and pick out people who you would define to be successful. What are the characteristics they all hold in common and how can you take a page from their book this year as you work toward a better you? 

Watch Angela’s full TED talk below: