Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year! Something(s) to celebrate....

I want to take time, as we come to a close for 2018, to share how God has moved in MOPS Africa!

Here are some of the highlights of the year:

* One year ago, MOPS Africa had 30 groups across 7 countries. 
  Today, MOPS Africa is in 57 groups across 11 countries. 
  MOPS is also making big headway into West Africa, where we previously did not have any groups.

Two members of our newest African group (in Lagos, Nigeria) 

*The Global MOPS team released a Global Curriculum (edited by two of our African leaders) aimed at making MOPS material that is relevant to moms in our developing countries. This curriculum was introduced to several African groups during my visit to East Africa in January of this year. And, it has been translated not only into two African languages (Swahili and Malagasy), but into 13 other languages around the globe!
Sylvia of Nairobi, Kenya holding up her newly translated Global Curriculum

*Three countries hosted their own locally-run MOPS conferences during the year: South Africa (in August), Uganda (in October), and Kenya (in December), which directly reached more than 350 moms.

Leaders from across Kenya at their MOPS conference in December

*I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya in January for a MOPS training for 16 MOPS leaders (from Uganda, Zambia, and Kenya). During this trip I also lead a training and MOPS meeting for our group in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

*Favour, our Zambian MOPS Coach, attended MOMcon 2018 in Louisville in September and received valuable training to take back to her country, where they are currently planning their own MOPS conference.

*We have 8 official U.S. partnerships to African MOPS groups.

*If you haven't seen the other posts throughout the year, please take a look. There are so many beautiful updates to celebrate!

And we have some very exciting things already in the works for 2019, including:

*I will be making two visits in the first part of the year to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia for MOPS related training.

*Zambia will have its official MOPS launch in April. We are planning for several global leaders to attend.

*South Africa is planning its second MOPS conference in August.

*We are planning for a number of MOPS African leaders to attend MOMcon in Orlando in September.

We are praying for God's strong hand in all of this and trust that His will be done. Wishing you all a joyous and wonderful New Year!!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Between the space....

Psalm 9:1 - “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.”

This week we have celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S. A time to be thankful. A time to get together with family or friends and enjoy each other’s company around a special meal. It’s one of my favorite times of the whole year.

At the beginning of this month, I challenged a dear friend to share a list of three items every day that we were each thankful for. Things like naps, seat warmers, friends, saunas, coffee, time to shop, the rain finally stopping, and podcasts filled our lists. It was a lovely reminder of the beauty in our lives and the number of ways we are blessed. In fact, on Thanksgiving day, after a month of listing all of the ways God has blessed me, I wrote to my friend - “I am thankful for my beautiful life. It isn’t perfect, but it’s exactly as it should be. I am blessed beyond what anyone needs. I am thankful for the fact that I could go on for years, coming up with three (or 50) things every day to be thankful for, and never run out.”

And then, I posed the question to my MOPS leaders in Africa. A simple question: What are you thankful to God for….? There were standard answers, of course. The answers we all expect to hear. Friends, family, health, the gift of being a mother.  The answers that span across every country, every culture, every society.

But then, there were the other answers. The ones that found gratitude in so much pain. The ones that I want to understand, to empathize with, to fix, but will never be able to. The ones that made me catch my breath.

These posts aren’t supposed to be about me, but I’m going to deviate a bit this time, as I reflect on a few things I’ve discovered over the past couple of years. Something that I’ve been wanting to put into words, but it took me asking for others’ words to be able to say it well enough.

I feel caught. 

Between the space of seat warmers in my car, while knowing this beautiful boy is struggling for his life with a brain tumor and might not make it to the hospital in time.

Between the space of gorgeous irish dance dresses and Christmas music streaming over my bluetooth, while knowing women who are being abused by their husbands and have nowhere else to turn but the streets.

Between the space of throwing out romaine lettuce, while people I love will go hungry tonight.

Between the space of helping, while never being able to help enough.

Between the space of being grateful for my abundant blessings, while questioning ‘why me?’

So, what else are my MOPS African leaders thankful for this season….

“We are thanking God for His protection over our lives in the case of shootings all around us.”

“I am thankful that my brother, though kidnapped and demanded a ransom, was found safe in the woods. After a few days in the hospital, we have been able to bring him home.”

“My family is thanking God for provision even as we have lost our market place.”

“I am thankful because the rains have finally started.”

“Thankful that I found the school fees so my son could continue with school this semester.”

“I thank God for the times I get to feel pain and disappointment. It’s been a really hard year.”

“Thanking the Lord for making me content at a job that I have feel so uncontent with for the past 5 years.”

“I had to make a decision to resign from my job in December thinking about my survival, but thanking the Lord because he will be faithful.”

“Thankful that our country is held together, despite our terrible political crisis.”

“I thank God for food to eat, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, and shelter over my head, because I know many that don’t have these things.”

But, amongst so many prayer requests, and such heavy burdens, there is always hope.
I have always found hope in my African friends, and that’s what I cling to…

“I am giving thanks to God this year, because I have discovered that I can do bigger things than I ever thought.”

Monday, October 15, 2018

Conferences galore!

It's time for my monthly post with updates from MOPS Africa. Even though it's only been a few weeks, it feels like a lifetime has happened since the last post!

Favour had a wonderful trip to the U.S. at the end of September to join me for the annual MOPS converence - MOMcon - in Louisville, KY. We had a day of training, brainstorming, praying, and fellowship together followed by a few days of an amazing conference. We both learned a lot and are revitalized to continue to serve God through MOPS!

Favour and Destiny in Louisville

Favour with Sherri Crandall, VP of Global Ministries and Leadership Experience at MOPS

Upon returning home, Favour hosted a leadership meeting and a MOPS Zambia conference to share some of the information she took home from MOMcon. And that group is on fire for bringing MOPS into their community!
They are planning for a large conference in April 2019, and that will be open to MOPS leadership from other African countries attending.

Leadership meeting

MOPS Zambia conference

MOPS Kenya has had significant growth in the last several months. Seven new groups have started in 2018, and we are expecting three more to become official over the new few weeks. Many of the new groups are located in the North Rift region of the country, and this weekend Pastor Sammy met with the new leadership and pastors in that area to introduce the basic values of MOPS and ensure consistency and comradery within the country. In December, MOPS Kenya is planning for a country-wide conference in Kitale for all of the women coordinators.

6 leaders representing Kenya's North Rift region.
Additionally, Pastor Sammy had an opportunity to visit with Pastor Rhodah and Kenya Coach Cherry Tay in Nairobi last week to re-establish vision and excitement in the country.

Pastor Sammy, Pastor Rhodah, and Coach Cherry Tay

MOPS Kasese Uganda also held their area's MOPS conference this weekend! There were 200 moms who attended. The Deputy Minister of Energy and Resources for Uganda came to give a speech and also helped hand out certificates to the moms who have completed MOPS-lead courses in classes like tailoring, soap-making, and hair dressing!

Certificates handed out by the Deputy Minister of Energy and Resources

More certificates!
MOPS moms displaying the soap they have learned to make

And, finally, please continue your prayers for our sisters in MOPS Cameroon. The violence has not stopped and our leaders are having to relocate to keep safe. The country held elections last week, but results have not been decided yet.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Many answered prayers

We have so many things to celebrate this week...

South Africa's MOMCon was a big success! It was held in Capetown, where 5 of the 6 current MOPS groups are located, and it was hosted at Sonja's church (Vredelust Church) with a local Christian radio station sponsor! 150 women attended from around the Capetown area, and 100 of these ladies were not previously a part of any MOPS group. They also hosted four of our Zambian MOPS leaders from Lusaka: Chilufya, Lozindaba, Harriet, and Sapphira. At MOMCon there were several guest speakers and breakout sessions, and it was a beautiful, well-run event that blessed many moms!

Sonja, South Africa coach, together with MOPS Zambia leaders 

Sonja on stage greeting the attendees

Entrance into the church

In other news, Cynthia (our Kisii Kenya leader) gave birth to a beautiful girl. Her name is Blessing. Cynthia ended up getting pre-eclampsia (very high blood pressure), and so for the mom and baby's safety, they preformed an emergency c-section earlier than expected. They are both home now, praise God! Cynthia is taking longer to recover than they would like, but will continue to monitor her progress.

Additionally, Sylvia and baby Jesa from the Kampala Teen MOPS group are now doing well, and the team from Germany is there now working very hard and accomplishing many things! They are doing construction in the soap workshop that the MOPS group runs, and helping them with marketing and selling their soap in the marketplace. 

And now for our prayer requests! Due to upcoming elections, Southern Cameroon is having a period of political unrest, and there is a lot of fighting and violence happening very near the area where our MOPS moms live. The group has been unable to meet for a while because of this political strife, and some of the moms have been unable to work or have had to relocate. Please pray for peace in this area of the world!

In two weeks, Favour Mwaba, myself, the Global MOPS team, and thousands of other MOPS leaders from across America will meet for our MOMcon USA in Louisville, Kentucky. We are praying for a time where God does great things for moms around the world. And I will personally be praying and advocating for all of our African groups, especially. I will update you after we return home!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Welcome baby Jesa! And other prayer requests

We have big news from our Teen MOPS group in Kampala, Uganda. The coordinator, Sylvia, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl this week!

But both Sylvia and Jesa need your prayers. Jesa was born ten weeks early with her cord around her neck, in serious condition. She is still in an incubator, though she has now stabilized. We are praying for full recovery, as having a disability (especially in Africa) can present many challenges. Sylvia also needs your prayers as she is exhausted and so concerned for her precious baby.

Thankfully, and also in need of prayer, a team from Kampala's partner MOPS group in Germany is visiting this week! Praise God for good timing. The team has big plans of installing a full chicken coop and readying the field they own for goats. The Teen MOPS group also sells homemade soap in the marketplace to provide income for their moms, and Amy, the leader from Germany, will be helping them with their marketing and packaging, as sales are not what they could be.

We have another prayer request. Cynthia from one of the Kisii MOPS groups is also pregnant and due in a few weeks. Unfortunately, it is an extremely high risk pregnancy, and the doctors are very concerned for the lives of both the mom and baby, due to complications in the previous births of her sons. She is on bed-rest and is preparing for a c-section in a few weeks. The financial situation is also very dire, as Cynthia and her husband run an orphanage for 30 other children. They completely feed, clothe, and school these children who have nowhere else to live. Please lift up Cynthia today and throughout this next month in your prayers. I will send an update after the birth!

Cynthia and I during a leadership training in Nairobi this past January

South Africa MOMcon is coming up in one week! We are so excited for what they have planned, and for the leaders from Zambia that are traveling to be there as well. We pray that many moms from the Capetown community come to see what MOPS is all about, and to have sweet fellowship with Jesus.

And finally, MOPS International has announced a new Global position: MOPS Ambassador. This position is for a local liaison (usually male pastor) in the countries we have MOPS that raises awareness and interest in MOPS by communicating the MOPS vision to other church leaders in events, conferences, retreats and gatherings through opportunities to promote MOPS on a regular basis. We created this thinking of the male pastors that are devoted to the MOPS vision, and while they do not lead groups, they drive people to MOPS through their passion for our ministry! We welcome two MOPS Ambassadors from Africa - Pastor Sammy Kimitios (from Kitale, Kenya), and Pastor Alison Kasiringi (from Kasese, Uganda). I have had the pleasure of working closely with both pastors for many years and know they will continue to do great things for the young mothers in their community.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Cows and Cake!

Today we have several things to celebrate at MOPS Africa.

One of our groups, located in Kisii Kenya has recently pooled their money together to buy a cow! They are calling it the One Cow Project. From this cow, they are hoping to birth a cow for each member of their MOPS group. Having a cow represents sustainable living in rural parts of East Africa. The cow can give milk or meat, or birth more calves to then sell. This group is working hard to provide each of their moms with an income opportunity to help support her family. Because when food and money are scare, it is hard to focus on some of the other important aspects of motherhood.

Please also pray for the coordinator in this group, Jacky. She has malaria, a disease that comes from mosquitos. It is unfortunately an all-too-common illness in many parts of Africa, and it something that is often encountered in rural areas like Kisii. While treatable, it can also be very dangerous, and we pray for her quick recovery.

Kisii, Kenya MOPS and their one cow (behind Pastor Richard and coordinator Jacky)

We had a kickoff meeting for our first group in Nigeria last week! It is so exciting to see new groups start up, and this one has been prayed about for some time. Reaching our moms for Jesus in West Africa is just as important as anywhere else on the continent, and I believe God will be doing some amazing things through these ladies in Lagos. They celebrated their first meeting with a beautiful cake and 7 moms who were introduced to MOPS. They will be meeting again in a few weeks.

First meeting in MOPS Lagos, Nigeria. Lead by new MOPS coordinator, Bukola

And because pictures are so fun, here is a group meeting in South Sudan at a MOPS leader training event. We pray that they are learning and feel encouraged to reach many moms in their community!

MOPS training in Amadi, South Sudan

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June updates

It's been a few weeks, and we have several updates.


MOPS South Africa has been preparing for their August Moms Conference in Capetown. They have lined up several speakers and breakout sessions for the two-day event. And they have invited all local moms in their area, in addition to their MOPS moms. In big news, a local Christian radio station is promoting and sponsoring the event, and plans are being finalized for a few ladies from MOPS Zambia to attend. We can't wait to get updates to see how the conference goes, and see the ways these women around Capetown and beyond will be blessed by this event!

If your Africa group has any interest or questions about attending, please contact Sonja Basson, South Africa Coach.


Additionally, we have several leaders from around the continent of Africa who are raising money to attend the annual MOMcon conference this year in Louisville, KY at the end of September. What a great opportunity for these leaders who are planning to attend!


I also wanted to highlight one of our MOPS group in Kisii, Kenya. Their leader has shared with me the work that they are doing in their community teaching and training about HIV/AIDS. These women have a passion for teaching local families about how and why HIV spreads and also encouraging and praying for families that are currently battling with the illness. The are addressing issues like stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, inaction, and mis-action.

This group is also collectively saving for a poultry project. Slowly and faithfully they are hoping to have enough to start their own group chicken coop. MOPS is growing in this area of Kenya and the group is very excited!


A few groups could use your prayers:

In an area of Kasese, Uganda where we have 9 MOPS groups, the city is struggling with a few incidences of kidnapping and a bomb was recently found in the marketplace (thank God, before it defused). There has been some unrest in the region for the last few years, and prayers for the safety of this area is appreciated!

Many of our groups in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda are still experiences issues with heavy rainfall, during a rainy season that has lasted many month. Some of our groups have women and families that have been affected by this rain! Please keep them in your prayers, as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Zambia MOPS

There are currently six MOPS groups in Zambia, with over 150 moms registered there. And these women are doing truly inspiring things in their community.

Some of our MOPS moms in Lusaka, Zambia

Last August, the original group in Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) adopted a maternity ward which they have committed to regularly visit, share the word of God, and give these new moms spiritual and emotional encouragement. The MOPS groups have raised money to support this ward in very tangible ways, like providing a microwave, cleaning supplies, and medical supplies. The women who give birth here don't have enough money for a proper hospital. And at public institutions like these, they can expect to share a bed with several other women. They often have to give birth on the floor, without adequate medical attention. 

Two women share a bed at the Lusaka maternity ward

Favour Mwaba, the coach for our Zambia groups, visited the U.S. last September to attend MomCon 2017 and learn more about how she can bring MOPS to the moms in Zambia. She was also able to accompany me back to Washington D.C. and speak at two local MOPS groups in Maryland.

Myself, Favour, and another MOPS leader in front of the White House

Favour speaking at a local MOPS group in Maryland

I have been so inspired at what Favour and her groups have been able to do since she returned home to Zambia just a few months ago. For starters, the number of groups in Zambia has since increased from one to six!

In December, Zambia MOPS fundraised enough money to bring two leaders from Kampala, Uganda to teach the Zambian moms how to make soap. The Kampala group has been working for over a year, to learn the skills of soap making to raise money for their teen-MOPS group. The goals of Zambia MOPS learning this new skill are two fold: to provide their adopted maternity ward with soap for the moms giving birth, and to sell the soap in their community to give back to the ward financially. The MOPS groups are also learning skills like beaded jewelry, making deodorant, and also sewing doormats, in order to raise funds for the maternity ward.

Jane, a MOPS leader, giving soap making a try!
In January, one of the Zambia MOPS leaders joined 15 other leaders from East Africa for a MOPS leadership training in Nairobi.

Chilufya and myself in Nairobi, Kenya for a MOPS leadership training

And I just found out yesterday that another Zambia group has recently adopted 3 local orphans and are providing their food and schooling needs.

These kids can attend school this year because of MOPS Zambia
In final exciting news, just this week Zambia MOPS has received their government certificate, to be recognized as an official organization in their country. They have been eagerly waiting this for 8 months! This certificate means that they are now free to advertise MOPS on local media, and they are also able to set up official business ventures, like their soap making.

Official registration for MOPS Zambia

Praying that God will continue to give them, and all of MOPS Africa, the fire to do great things for His glory!

Zambia, Africa

Monday, April 2, 2018

A few exciting firsts

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead! 1 Cor. 15:17-20

I pray that everyone had a fantastic Easter with their church and family. 💛

I am excited to share a few updates about some firsts that are happening in our MOPS groups around the continent of Africa....

One of our newest MOPS groups, located in Tiko, Cameroon, had their first MOPS meeting last week. They will be meeting Monday evenings, twice a month. And while we are so excited that they had 7 women attend their first meeting, the group is now focusing on how to create awareness in their community to find more moms to attend MOPS!

Tiko MOPS first meeting


Our MOPS groups in Capetown, South Africa held their first mom's-night-out last weekend. This idea of moms gathering together for food and fellowship is popular here in the U.S., as well. Nothing formal is planned; it is just a time to have fun and get together with other moms in the community! They had 50 women attend their event, many of whom aren't a part of their MOPS group. But Capetown MOPS is hoping this will lead many of these moms to start attending meetings.

Capetown MOPS mom's-night-out


The Kilimanjaro, Tanzania MOPS group is planning their first community event to a local hospital for their next MOPS meeting in April. They will visit with new moms in the hospital, as a service and outreach project. I was also happy to hear that the group has added a few new moms since I visited in January.

Discussion groups from the most recent Kilimanjaro MOPS meeting. The topic was Devotion 3: Self-Control from the new Global Curriculum. 

We love celebrating firsts here at MOPS! And from the passion and enthusiasm taking place in these and many of our other African groups, I know this is just the beginning of what I'll have to share. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

The best place to start...

The intent of this blog is to share with the larger MOPS community the amazing ways we are reaching moms through MOPS on the continent of Africa. But this blog is also my solution to connecting our African groups together, by sharing their inspiration and success stories with each other. 

I think the best way to start off is by celebrating where we are right now in Africa. 

God has been so faithful; "Great is our Lord, and abundant in power!" (Psalm 147:5) 

By His work alone, MOPS Africa has grown in the last 6 years to over over 50 groups in 15 countries. There are amazing things happening on this continent, and I know that we are just getting started...

The countries where MOPS is located, or where we are training a new group, are:

  • Benin
  • Cameroon
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Madagascar
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Republic of South Sudan
  • Rwanda
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia

We have recently appointed three Coaches to MOPS Africa: Sonja Basson (from South Africa), Cherry Tay (from Kenya), and Favour Mwaba (from Zambia). We also have a new MOPS Advocate, as well: Amy Heymann (from Germany, who has been partnering with our Kampala, Uganda group).

And, I am the new Global Ministry Developer for Africa. I have worked with some of our East-African groups since 2015, and took on this volunteer role officially in December. I have visited Kenya and Tanzania twice on mission trips since 2017, incorporating MOPS visits along the way! 

This past January, I coordinated a MOPS leadership training in Nairobi for 16 leaders from Uganda, Zambia, and Kenya. Following that conference, I visited our only MOPS group in Tanzania for a day. I pray that I will be back many more times to visit other countries in Africa, to meet with these amazing women of God.

Handing out the new MOPS Global curriculum during the Nairobi training

MOPS meeting in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The moms in our groups have many skills -- including bead-work, soap-making, sewing, agriculture, and raising livestock. They are teaching each other ways to sustain their families. And, these strong women are reaching out to their communities by serving others less fortunate than themselves -- through avenues like adopting maternity wards, taking in teen moms, encouraging the elderly, and running their own children orphanages. 

MY WHY: Every MOPS group is made up of moms who want the best for their families. Every mom has a story; and every mom wants to feel seen and heard. If mothers are spiritually and emotionally healthy, and they learn how to lead their families and communities, they will raise up a strong generation of children. If done well, MOPS will have a trickle-down effect into our children and society that could change the planet. 

Because Better Moms Make a Better World!

Right now most of our African groups don't have a global-sisterhood-partnership with another MOPS group, but they have all been praying for one.... a group to support them emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes financially, too. 

If you and your local MOPS group feels called to a partnership like this, either in Africa or another continent, please let me know and I can help. We have groups in 48 countries around the world who would love to connect with you!