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To a lesser or greater extent we can all be considered leaders.  It is unfortunate the leaders often give the impression that they are part of an elitist club. Even if this is not overtly the case it is an unspoken assumption that having some sort of oversight position puts us into this category.  What I have discovered over the years is that putting ourselves in this category predisposes us to thinking we have some kind of superior knowledge.  We begin to think of ourselves as knowledge bearers.  Far be it from us to think in this way. This kind of thinking makes us condescending - very of the enlightenment Western mentality.  I have had the misfortune of seeing this propagated by missionaries and well meaning 'do gooders' who perceive themselves to having a better understanding of how people in different contexts to their own should be living.  Time is not taken to building learning relationships that will enable us to better align ourselves with these unfamiliar contexts.

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Feb
07

Global Leadership

Global leaders learning together!

Global leaders, learning together has exciting possibilities. Our latest trip to Kenya is a testimony to what can be achieved when we all bury our preconceived ‘knowledge bearer’ paradigms and come to an understanding that leaders worldwide have something to offer one another.

Although all the possibilities of this exciting new paradigm still need to be realized, those of us who value participation and togetherness in formulating new leadership paradigms that will

To offer perspective on my understanding of the Western leadership paradigm I offer my thoughts about what I have discovered over the years I have spent working with both local and global leaders. By local, I mean in the United States and also in academia in the United Kingdom. My discoveries relate to the fact that there is much more to learning when it comes to seminars and conferences than the meeting facilities (enormous amounts of money is spent securing lavish, and often theme related conference facilities) number of attendees (the critical mass syndrome –the more people in attendance – the more successful it appears) meals, and high tech presentations. It is my perspective that success relates to some of the following:

 

  • how creatively we can engage those in attendance, such as in dialogue, feedback and in the way in which we communicate a sense of ‘mutuality.’
  • recognition that every participant has something to bring to the table of ideas
  • relationship building through shared stories and life experiences regarding their contexts

 

Including some of these things relays a sense of respect for the ‘other’ and moves away from the ‘knowledge bearer’ paradigms that are so much a part of our Western enlightenment history. It has been my experience that this top down communication of knowledge, leaves many who attend our meetings informed but not changed. Facilitating some of the above mentioned factors could perhaps influence what we learn and how we learn it.

Sadly the old model of top down strategies still persists in our daily sharing of information, even in a technology rich, resourced business environment like America. I still hear of people attending mandated seminars or conferences, who come away sighing with relief that the exhausting, week long, ‘bum numbing’ endeavor is over. Not many who attend are challenged, or even necessarily empowered. They are expected in many ways to labor under the hierarchical, knowledge driven culture that has existed for decades. For some reason we seem unaware that we work in a ‘shared power world!’ By this I mean that the knowledge bearers are no longer just the elites with business careers or the academics with letters behind their names, or the authors who have made the New York Times best sellers list. The ‘knowledge bearers’ include those who have knowledge of their own contexts, whose skills, talents and abilities are of a different genre. Their knowledge is perhaps unrelated to books and intellectual know how – their knowledge finds its expression in ‘life world experience’ related to situations with which we are unfamiliar such as the ability to survive in war torn nations, the ability to survive the effects of gender mutilation and sexual abuse and suppression.

Their skills are related to protecting themselves against predators, to restoring their emotional well being after experiencing the trauma of mass killings and gang rape without professional psychological intervention (there is none available), to leaving homes and land at the drop of a hat when driven out by rebels, to surviving a life-time in refugee camps, to forced abortion due to limited child policies, to taking care of up to 26 dependents as is the case with many women in Africa caring for HIV/AIDS orphans. Survival skills that allow child soldiers to reintegrate into society after years of brutal beating, torture and forced killings. Skills we in the West know little about such as how to preserve our dead because no mortuary exists in our rural community.

I have personally had the privilege of meeting leaders with these kinds of skills and this kind of knowledge all over the world - leaders who escaped from tyranny on little rafters, on raging seas. Leaders who bought second hand pillow-slips from the market and turned them into receiving baby blankets to support a family of twenty people - leaders who survived twenty years in the latrine pits due to unjust imprisonment. Leaders who said the reason they carried condoms in their purses was to protect themselves from the inevitable assault of rape - inevitable because there are still people who believe that HIV/AIDS can be cured by having sex with a virgin.

Often times these leaders have learned to navigate the realities of their world in a way we could only imagine. Help for them is not just around the corner. It comes from the knowledge they have gained through their experiences and yes often times their trust in a ‘God.’

So why do our seminars and conferences still look and feel the same? Why do companies spend fortunes on ‘leadership training and development’ only to have employees spend more time looking at unrelated work emails or updating their facebook page or tweeting about Lady Gaga’s latest video?

Why is it that the majority of the work done to sustain our consumer habits is undertaken overseas? Why is it that something as simple as keeping a balanced budget is out of our reach and yet we see fit to export our leadership training and development programs all over the world – holding ourselves up as those ‘who know?’ I am partly convinced that it is because leaders, especially successful Western leaders love the sound of their own voices. If we would take the time to invite others to our podiums, platforms and pulpits, we may be surprised to find that those on the listening end are enraptured by what (those who are considered to be on the outside) have to say. Perhaps it is because there is a thirst for something fresh and something authentic, something that doesn’t smack of narcissism and pretention. Something that comes from the heart with a humility that says this is what I know but I still have a lot to learn. I believe the time has come to hear from those who for so long have remained silent because we have we have considered them as insignificant.

 

Thoughts from my time in Africa – November 2012 – Gabriella Van Breda

 

Written by Simone Schneider.

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Mar
16

Empowering Women

2012 National Women’s History Month Theme:
Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment

Although women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide, the reversal of the gender gap is a very recent phenomenon. The fight to learn was a valiant struggle waged by many tenacious women—not just in America but around the world. Trailblazers like Florence Nightingale who knew that God had called her to the nursing profession, established the world's first secular nursing school which is now part of Kings College of London. She is just one example of what women can achieve when they decide to follow God's calling. Being influential often means educating yourself - education is the key to success. I have had the privilege of seeing how empowering education can be for women,  especially in the developing world. Women achieve a different standing in society when their education and skills make them income generators.  I have personally experienced this phenomena especially in East Africa where a woman's standing in society changes when she becomes a bread winner in her family. Women have an amazing capacity to learn and it is exacerbated by their willingness and motivation. They are incredibly creative and can conceptualize income generating scenarios with little outside input. Women, especially in the African context are the ones at the forefront of providing for their families. I can name hundreds of women who with only an elementary school education and a little training have started their own businesses, employed others, created business plans, set up websites and generally contributed to the bottom line of their nations growth. As we celebrate 'Women's History Month' let us not forget the sacrifices of women all over the globe who have forged new paths of freedom and equality for all of us. Let us as women be vigilant in the work God has called us to, so that we can collectively ensure that we live in a better world. As we celebrate Women's history month I would like to encourage women all over the world to not feel constrained by their gender, standing in society, or lack of education. Don't let culture dictate what you can and cannot do or what you can and cannot contribute. Even in the church -nothing is beyond your grasp when you submit yourself to God and His purposes for your life.

Written by Simone Schneider.

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Aug
31

A week of generosity

This last week, WIN had the wonderful opportunity to partner with a number of businesses and individuals to help make a difference in our community.  We were humbled by the generosity of those who gave time, talent and treasure to take care of our vulnerable populations.  Here's a recap of the week:

-Monday morning we distributed farm fresh produce to our food bank clients donated from the Saturday Bellevue Farmers Market.  We also picked up two barrels of food from Infospace, a business in downtown Bellevue.  Their employees held a food drive that was well-received and the donations were great!

-Thursday night, WIN and Renewal Food Bank were the nonprofit partners for South Bellevue Chiropractic and Massage's "Women Wellness and Wine" event. This "ladies only" evening highlighted local women entrepreneurs and businesses.  Admission fees and raffle ticket sales were donated to our causes.  It was a wonderful evening of community and fun.

-Saturday we were represented as part of Macy's Bellevue Square Shop for A Cause event.  We had a display table in the Home Furnishings Department and we sold passes for 25% off shopping for the day. We had the chance to see friends and supporters, as well as individuals who learned more about us by chatting with staff. 

-Saturday night we enjoyed a beautiful Farm to Table Dinner at private farm in Carnation, sponsored by Chef on the Run Personal Catering Service.  Each guest brought over $10 worth of food for the food bank. We also had several members of the Piggy Parade on hand for donations as well.  Our Executive Director Gabriella Van Breda and her husband and boardmember Peter Van Breda shared stories and fellowship over a wonderful outdoor dinner.

-And finally, this Monday, we picked up two bins filled with food from the Bellevue College Early Learning Center Daycare Program.  Back in early August the children toured our food bank and were inspired to create posters and encourage their parents to bring items for the drive.  Mac and cheese was a consistent winner in the donation bin! 

We write about these inspirational acts with gratitude. It is only through these types of partnerships that we can continue to do the work that we do - locally and abroad.  Many thanks to our supporters and partners!

Written by Helene Wentink.

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Jun
22

A note from Gaby....

Lest everyday becomes just run of the mill – going through the motions, seeing the same people, doing the same things to ensure our needy families have food to eat – God has a way of reminding us that everyday chores done in his service and with His attitude have eternal consequences and heavenly rewards.  I say this knowing the history of our food bank and the attitude with which our volunteers offer service.  The relationships we develop in the doing are cemented by our values of caring service, dignity and respect.  When we touch people with a smile, with a question about their life, with empathy and genuine interest – we ignite hope and hope for tomorrow is what keeps people going.  Hopelessness is devastating and has devastating outcomes.  Tomorrow you can invest in HOPE by supporting WIN through the SEATTLE FOUNDATION’S GiveBIG campaign.

Tomorrow is the 23rd and it is the only day to donate for WIN to receive a portion of the matching funds offered by the Seattle Foundation.  So today remember love and tomorrow remember that love transforms….love engenders hope….love never fails. Love is the sure bond of peace and peacefulness.  Love is the true gift o God…!

Patricia was 65 when she died.  Estranged from her family – she died alone surrounded by her memories but not her friends.  The story of her life pieced together after her death revealed her ongoing visits to World Impact Network’s Renewal Food Bank – how privileged we were to have served her!

Written by Gabriella Van Breda.

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Jun
09

Summertime....

...and the living is not always easy.  Many of us look forward to summer with joy. For those who rely on food lunch programs during the school year for their children, summer can be an impact on their cupboards.  Our Renewal Food Bank supports families in providing them with food security, and the summer need is great.  We are grateful to the recent organizations and schools who have held food donation drives.  We are happy to partner with orgnizations throughout the summer as well!  Contact us at 425-643-8246 or e-mail us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to learn more.

Written by Helene Wentink.

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