BEHOLD, I AM DOING A NEW THING.
IN ISAIAH 43, the prophet shares God’s word to the people that he is about to do something new. It is believed that this section of Isaiah was written to those who had been languishing in exile. The new thing that God promised was a return to Jerusalem, a deliverance from captivity. Undoubtedly, many who heard this prophecy struggled to hope it would come to pass. Similarly, many of us may relate to feeling captive these past few years. For some of our vulnerable friends around the world, this has been even more literally true. And yet, God has begun to do something new in the midst of dire circumstances.
In this annual report, we share some stories of the new things that God is giving birth to. These include creative ways our staff have engaged their contexts, new national partnerships that have formed, and new approaches we have developed to equip people for the work of the kingdom of God. As war ravages Europe displacing millions, and as we continue to live with the reality of COVID-19, we may struggle to hope that something new and good is upon us. But we must remind ourselves that our God can always make a way in the desert—and if we open our eyes, we will see it. Thank you for your prayers and financial support of Servant Partners. We appreciate your partnership on our journey of hope in the midst of poverty.
In Jesus’ Hope,
Derek and Lisa Engdahl
It Starts With Listening
INTRODUCING THE COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION CERTIFICATE
"ALL HEALTHY COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION NEEDS TO BE MUTUAL."
ONE COLD AFTERNOON in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s westside Meadowgreen neighborhood, a group of women gathered for midday tea—meeting each other for the first time. They shared homemade Persian sweets as their children played together. While the gathering appeared mundane, Kathleen Carter describes it as embodying shalom: “In a neighborhood so divided, isolated, and fearful of one another, these women gathered in safety and trust.”
Kathleen hosted this teatime gathering as a seed project with the Community Transformation Certificate (CTC), a program launched by Servant Partners to train others in our values and strategies, and equip people to respond to needs and opportunities in their own communities. For 12 weeks last fall, 20 global leaders representing 13 cities around the world gathered online to learn how to transform their communities.
“Whether you’re doing leadership development, community organizing, or church-planting, you need to be able to listen,” said Krista-Dawn Kimsey, the Co-General Director of Servant Partners Canada. “We wanted to help participants listen to God, neighbor, and themselves, as a way of engaging in cross-cultural, cross-class relationships for a purpose.”
A Lung In The Desert
TRANSFORMING WOMEN THROUGH GARDENING & SELF-DEFENSE
“I'VE SEEN THE STORY OF GENESIS COME TO LIFE.”
“THE WORLD IS SO SUFFOCATING AND SMALL, AND THIS SPACE HAS REALLY OFFERED LIBERATION FOR [WOMEN'S] MINDS AND BODIES."
"WOULD YOU LIKE A TOMATO?" For residents of an urban desert in North Africa, this scarlet fruit meant more than mere produce—it was an emblem of possibility. Only two forms of produce are grown locally, with everything else imported. When COVID-19 collapsed markets in the region, the availability of diverse produce was stifled—except at one small plot of land: the Servant Partners ministry site and community center in North Africa.
“Even sand can be cultivated,” said Sara Oviedo, the Servant Partners site leader in North Africa. “As we grew tomatoes, spinach, and other rare, new plants, our neighbors realized the importance and possibilities of cultivating the ground.”
The community center conducts a number of ministries, focusing primarily on urban agriculture to connect with neighbors in the desert. This past year, they’ve hosted nearly 600 participants across courses in urban gardening, reforestation, nutrition, and more.
“I’ve seen the story of Genesis come to life,” Sara reflected. “All you see here is sand and buildings made by man. There are no trees or plants that would call to the heart of God. But when we started to cultivate, we saw a whole new flora emerge. We now have this beautiful green lung growing in the midst of the desert.”
Urban Revival Across Ethiopia
A NATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR URBAN TRANSFORMATION
"PARTNERING WITH SERVANT PARTNERS GAVE US VISION FOR WHAT GOD WAS DOING IN URBAN POOR COMMUNITIES, AND WHAT WAS POSSIBLE HERE."
RESIDENTS OF AN URBAN MARGINALIZED COMMUNITY in Northern Ethiopia were commonly called Negede Weyto, a name implying they ate whatever they could find—even scraps. They lived there for hundreds of years, enduring poverty and prejudice from others in the neighboring city. A ministry team in the city was working tirelessly to reach the community when they met Mekonnen*, a local tailor living with his family among the Negede Weyto. Befriending the missionaries, Mekonnen introduced them to his family and neighbors. As the team listened, built relationships, and shared the gospel in Negede Weyto, many began to believe in Jesus Christ! They started Bible studies, partnered with local churches, and after several months, the team and local partners decided to reclaim the town name to Negde Selam, or “People of Peace.”
That ministry team was sent by Horn of Africa Evangelical Mission Engagers (HOEME), an indigenous Ethiopian mission organization that facilitates church-planting, cross-cultural ministries, and mobilizes missionaries among Ethiopia’s unreached groups. In the past 10+ years, HOEME has seen over 120,000 new believers, 9,000 churches planted, and 50,000 believers mobilized across churches and campuses.
“Even in the so-called ‘closed communities,’ we’re witnessing God work through ordinary men and women who have dedicated their lives to the Kingdom,” said Amanuel Gezahgne, HOEME Mobilizer Senior Coach.
SOUL OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Beauty is one of Servant Partners’ Nine Signs of a Transforming Community. We believe art has the power to transform the ugliness of poverty, empower the voices of the unheard, and create spaces for reflection, joy, and healing. This past year, Servant Partners Press launched The Mural, a quarterly digital publication showcasing artistic reflections from Servant Partners staff, neighbors, and wider network. Issues included Beauty in the Neighborhood, Home and Hospitality, Intersections & Contradictions, and Humans of ____. You can view all the issues at servantpartnerspress.org/the-mural.