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Meet Our Guests: Jason Miles, Jan Cancila, Linda Ronk

The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.


Get to Know Linda Ronk

Meet Linda Ronk. Linda has a most intriguing background including becoming an Air Force nurse at a more mature age than most enlistees. Linda, now retired, serves Sew Powerful as a Chapter Leader in Belton, Texas. She has set an ambitious goal for herself and has far exceeded it already. Listen as we learn why and how Linda, and her husband, support Sew Powerful so enthusiastically.


sewing, purses, industrial sewing machine, leather handbags, air force, nurse anesthetist, seat belt webbing, purse straps, crochet, chapter, Michigan, Texas, VA hospital


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: Linda Ronk


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Indiana Wesleyan University:

Unites States Air Force:

US Department of Veterans Affairs:

Seatbelt webbing on Amazon:


Jan Cancila, host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful Podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So let's get started.


Jan 00:18

Welcome Sew Powerful listeners. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with a Sew Powerful purse maker extraordinare. And she wears a couple of hats for Sew Powerful, and you're going to be surprised to learn all that she's accomplished in less than a year of her involvement with Sew Powerful. It's just been a pleasure to get to know her. And I know that you'll love getting to meet Linda Ronk. And so we're going to say hello to Linda and learn all about her. How are you today, Linda?


Linda Ronk, guest 00:49

Doing great. Thank you, Jan.


Jan 00:51

Oh, I'm so glad to talk with you. Let's start out, where do you live?


Linda 00:56

I live in Belton, Texas, which is about an hour north of Austin, Texas.


Jan 01:00



Linda 01:01

Right in the middle,


Jan 01:02

Right in the middle. And I live in Houston. We're having sort of a sunny, chilly day here. So


Linda 01:09



Jan 01:09

Probably about the same there, right?


Linda 01:10

Yes. Yes, it is. It's beautiful.


Jan 01:13

Right. And this is our winter. So you know, it's so exciting to get to wear a little sweatshirt or sweater during our winter months here. Where did you grow up? Are you a native Texan?


Linda 01:25

No, I've got here by a relatively circuitous route. I was born and raised in Michigan, got married at the age of 20. And we moved all over the country back and forth. And eventually I went back to school and got my nursing degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. And then a year later, at the age of 40, I joined the Air Force. And my assignment was in San Antonio. So I was in San Antonio for six years. And then we moved from there to Florida. And while we were here, my son fell in love with a girl from San Antonio and married her. And so when they started having babies, we decided to move back to Texas.


Jan 02:07

Wow. Now, I have to say I think it's somewhat unusual to join the Air Force at a mature age. What was your motivation for doing that?


Linda 02:18

It is very unusual. Well, basically, because my husband had not had a job where he would have any kind of retirement. And at that time, we thought if I could stay 20 years in the Air Force, we'd have a retirement. It didn't quite work out that way. But it still worked out just as God had planned. And I've been retired now. I worked at the VA for nine years and retired with a military/government pension. And we're doing just great here in Texas again.


Jan 02:50

That is so interesting. And I love that story. So can you tell us a little bit about your childhood growing up? Did you have siblings?


Linda 02:59

Yes, I'm the second oldest of seven. And my dad is a pastor. He and my mom got saved shortly after I was born. And he immediately went to Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And he was pretty green. He didn't know much about the scriptures. But he knew the Lord was calling him to leave the dairy farm and to preach and he's still preaching at the age of 95.


Jan 03:24

Oh my goodness, where does he live?


Linda 03:26

He's in Wyoming now. In Torrington, Wyoming.


Jan 03:30

So this very interesting background, has this led to interesting hobbies?


Linda 03:38

Yes, I've done a little bit of everything. I've done cross stitch, I've done macrome, I've done sewing, I've done crochet. Yesterday, I pulled out a sweater that I made when my daughter was less than a year old. So it's close to 40 years old. And I crocheted it when she was a baby and I wore it yesterday. So a little bit of everything and sewing sprinkled out throughout the years depending on the situation.


Jan 04:04

Well, that's cool. My mom crocheted a baby sweater for me. And so I still have that obviously, I don't wear it, but I do have it preserved and it just feels like such a special keepsake item. So you hinted a little bit at your career. You went to nursing school, is that right?


Linda 04:24

Yes. I got my bachelor's degree in nursing in '89 and joined the Air Force in '90. And then the Airforce put me through anesthesia school. So I'm retired as a certified registered nurse anesthetist.


Jan 04:38

Oh my goodnes.


Linda 04:39

And so that was what I did the last, what, 18 years, something like that before I retired.


Jan 04:46

And part of that time you were working at a VA hospital?


Linda 04:49

Yes, yes, I worked in the Air Force for for several years and then in the private sector in Florida. And then for the last nine yours as chief CRNA at the VA in Temple, Texas.


Jan 05:05

Okay. Wow. And and so Temple is near where you live, right?


Linda 05:09

Their sister cities? Yes.


Jan 05:11

Yeah. uh-huh. And I've been to both. They have beautiful, slightly rolling hills.


Linda 05:17



Jan 05:18

Lots of green pastures and beautiful acreage in that part of Texas. It's just really a lovely part. So how and when did you learn to sew?


Linda 05:29

Well, I took home-ec in high school. And sewed some of my clothes when I was at home, and then sewed for my kids when they were little. And so we've done some upholstery at one point in time. So over the years, it's just kind of been hit and miss sewing, you know, when it has worked out to sew, but since I've retired, I got into making purses. And so I got an industrial machine and made leather purses and handbags. And I'd just fallen in love with making purses and bags. But I'm not a very good businesswoman. So I've given away a lot; sold some. But that's not my main goal. It's just been enjoying making them. So when I got acquainted with Sew Powerful this summer through Facebook, I thought this is for me.


Jan 06:21

Well, and I have to ask, do you use your industrial machine on the Sew Powerful purses?


Linda 06:26

I have not? No, I have two very good domestic machines that I use.


Jan 06:32

Uh-huh, uh-huh


Linda 06:32

No, I haven't had to use my, my big machine.


Jan 06:36

Well, that is so interesting. And so one of your hobbies then is to make handbags, leather handbags?


Jan 06:41



Linda 06:42



Jan 06:42

Yes. Wow. That's very cool. So you said that you heard about Sew Powerful on Facebook? Do you remember how that came about a little more specifically?


Linda 06:52

I honestly don't. I'm part of several purse sewing groups. And somebody on there mentioned it and it intrigued me. And the more I learned about Sew Powerful, the organization, the more hooked I got, because I love the mission. I love the philosophy and being able to sew to my heart's content and not have to worry about selling or marketing or any of those things. So it's really, really fit the bill at this point.


Jan 07:24

Oh, that's fantastic. So what is your normal source of fabric for making purses for Sew Powerful?


Linda 07:32

Well, I like to use the quilt shop quality fabrics. But I'm also pretty cheap. So I very rarely spend full price. I hit sales. But I love the bright colors that are available and the quality of the quilt shop. I also love to repurpose, so I'll make trips to Goodwill or the Goodwill Outlet is sometimes even better, or other resale shops to glean what I can and use that.


Jan 08:04

And what do you use for straps? Do you use webbing? Or do you use fabric or combination? What do you do?


Linda 08:12

I've been using webbing and I really like the seat belt webbing. It's soft, it's pretty. It is more expensive than the polypropylene. But I just love the look it gives them. It's shiny and bright. And so at this point, if I can't find the right color, I'm using the seatbelt webbing for straps.


Jan 08:32

And is it narrow? Is it one inch wide?


Linda 08:35

It's one inch. Uh huh. Yeah.


Jan 08:37

Where do you find something like that?


Linda 08:39

On Amazon is the the best place to get it. I've looked all over. But I can make a strap for less than $1.


Jan 08:46



Linda 08:47

So I'll continue to use it as long as you know, it doesn't get too prohibitively expensive.


Jan 08:53

Well, wow. What a great tip. So just search on Amazon for seat belt webbing.


Linda 08:59

Yeah, yes. And they can't get quite as many colors. But mostly, I've found what I need.


Jan 09:09

Mmm, Well, well that's cool. I don't know anybody that's doing that and do you make the intermediate bag or the beginner purse? Which one do you like?


Linda 09:19

I've been making the the beginner purse. I've got some shortcuts and some other ways I do things and I do interface both the lining and the outer when I'm using just cotton so if I'm using like a twill or a denim or something else then I don't but it just gives more stability to the purse and makes it I think a little longer lasting. And I have a heat press and I apply the interfacing with a heat press so it really melds it together. Just really adds a nice dimension to the bag.


Jan 09:30

What a great idea. So if you have a heat press, then you're using like SF101


Linda 10:03



Jan 10:03

interfacing? Yeah?


Linda 10:03

Yeah. I've mostly been getting it through Home Sew which is just a bit heavier than even the SF101.


Jan 10:08

Oh, okay. All right.


Linda 10:14

But again, SF101. unless you get it on sale, it gets way too expensive. So,


Jan 10:20

Yeah, I think all of us only buyit on sale. Right, right. And so what do you like to do with that flap on the beginner purse?


Linda 10:31

Well, mostly, I just let the fabric speak for themselves. But I have done several where when I've been repurposing, like, if I find a cute dress that has a cute pocket on it, I'll use that for the flap.


Jan 10:42



Linda 10:43

I've also cut it at a diagonal, and put just a little bit of like piping in. And just to give it just a little bit of zip. But mostly I just let the beautiful fabrics speak for themselves.


Jan 10:59

Well, and when you're using all those bright colors, that's enough in many cases. Now, I understand that you set a goal for yourself for 2022. And you want to talk to us about that? And whether or not you made your goal for January, let's just put it that way.


Linda 11:17

Well, my goal is like 30 a month, basically one a day. And I think it was early last week, I sent off my second box, and I had been able to get 32 in each box. So I've outdone myself for January. So if something comes up later in the year, and I can't make my goal, I've got that as a little bit of a cushion.


Jan 11:37

So as we record this right near the end of the month, you've made 64 purses in the month of January. Is that right?


Linda 11:44

I've spent off 64? Yes. And I've got kits ready to go for probably 40 more, so I'll have a good start on February.


Jan 11:54

Well, I should say so. And you said you put them in the big box. Is this the USPS gameboard box?


Linda 12:01

Yes, yes.


Jan 12:02

I guess you saw the post where the office is discontinuing that.


Linda 12:07



Jan 12:07

I think maybe all of us purse makers have given the post office second thoughts about that box that maybe we're overdoing it, they had to discontinue it. Yeah. So if you like to use that box listeners, you probably need to go to the post office and see what they still have and use it while we still can. Besides making purses, you have also volunteered to be a Chapter Leader in our new Chapter format. Tell us the name of your chapter and tell us a little bit about your chapter activities.


Linda 12:41

The name of the Chapter is Powerful Purse Partners of Central Texas. And we have actually gotten off to a pretty slow start mostly because of COVID and other illnesses. We were supposed to have our second official meeting in January and we had to cancel that. So I'm just in the process now of reaching out to everyone again, and seeing how they want to go forward. One other person and I get together regularly to sew every couple of weeks, and we'll spend the day cutting things out or interfacing or sewing. So right now it's a slow process getting started. But I just keep at it and keep sewing and we'll see what happens.


Jan 13:23

Well, and let's give a shout out to your friend. It's your friend Juanita, is that right?



Yeah, Arnold? Uh huh.


Jan 13:29

Well, when Juanita Arnold, thank you so much for your help and your contributions. We appreciate that very much. You mentioned earlier that the Sew Powerful ministry really appeals to you. Can you be a little more specific about what it is you like?


Linda 13:48

Several things. I like the fact that the overhead is low, that the emphasis is not on giving things to other people, but to supporting them in ways that they can support themselves. In other words, coming alongside them, and really giving them a hand up as opposed to a handout. And that, to me is the way it should be in especially for believers. We are so fortunate to have what we have and to not reach out and help in that way is not the way it should be. So the more I researched the organization, the the more I felt like this is something I can really get behind. And my husband was the same way. He is pretty picky about who he wants to support. And yet he's all behind this. I've even tried to talk him into having a sewing day with me but he drew the line there but he does the housework while I sew.


Jan 15:03

Sounds like an excellent arrangement. Linda, what would you say to somebody who's thinking about volunteering for Sew Powerful, you know, maybe they're thinking about starting to make purses, or maybe they're making purses and thinking maybe there's a little more they could do, what would you tell them?


Linda 15:23

I would encourage them to do whatever they can. And, you know, I'm fortunate that I'm retired. I can afford to just go to my sewing room and make that many purses a month; a lot of people can't. But one purse or two purses is just as meaningful as doing, you know, a lot. And I would encourage them to just research the organization and find out the heart of the people that are involved in it. And I would be hard pressed to find somebody who would not be able to get behind the organization in some way, shape, or form. And I'm here for anybody, whether they're Central Texas or not, I'm happy to help in any way I can. I'm happy to help. And I would encourage others to make cards. Making cards is not my forte, but it's still a meaningful part of the process.


Jan 16:20

Right. Well, and we do have some groups that just sit down and knock out you know, a couple 100 cards and send them in and we're very grateful for that. But that heartfelt card even though it's not easy to write, I know the girl who gets it is so appreciate


Linda 16:34



Jan 16:35

having it. Linda, I want to thank you so much for your time and it was so much fun to get to know you. I see box after box at the Sew Powerful Live event. They hold it up, Linda Ronk dat dat dat dat dat dat dat. Linda Ronkrock dat dat dat dat dat dat dat.


Linda 16:51

Well, not quite. But


Jan 16:53

Well, I mean, this time sounds like there'll be at least two boxes there.


Linda 16:57

Yep, hopefully.


Jan 16:58

Yeah. Yeah, too. So that's so much fun. Well, thank you. And it's a pleasure to get to talk to another Texas purse maker. And if you live in the Central Texas area, you know, a little bit north of Austin, you'll know where Linda lives and you're looking for people to join your chapter, is that right?.


Linda 17:17

Yes, we sure are. Yes. We'd love to have people join us.


Jan 17:21

Yeah. So if you're interested, you can go to the chapters page on the Sew Powerful website and look on the map and you'll find Linda's chapter in Belton, Texas there. And there's a way for you to just automatically send a message to her that you're interested in. She'll get back to you. So anyway, well, thank you so much. Again, it was a pleasure and we will talk with you soon. Bye bye.


Jan 17:44

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Expanding the 3 Esthers Farm with Jason Miles

Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles, shares exciting news about feeding hungry kids in the Ngombe compound. Through a newly established partnership, more than 4800 children will receive a hot lunch every school day. Listen as Jason explains how the program will work and miraculously, how God prepared one of our Zambian team members to take a leadership role in this amazing new venture. Be sure to listen to the end for a second announcement about a new launch and partnership.


Feeding hungry kids, Tikondane Garden program, Ngombe compound, schools, donors, Esther, purse program, 3 Esthers Farm, Convoy of Hope, ministry, nutritionist, billboards, new website


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Convoy of Hope:

Mark and Huldah Buntain:

Tikondane Garden program:

3 Esthers Farm website:


Jan Cancila, host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:19

Hello Sew Powerful podcast listeners. Today we continue our discussion with Sew Powerful co-founder Jason Miles. And, you know, recently we've talked about the 3 Esther's farm and the Tikondane Garden project. But they're undergoing changes, great new things are happening. And Jason is here today to tell us about that. And we'll get to it in just a moment. But how are you today, Jason?


Jason Miles, guest 00:45

Well, I'm doing all right. My voice might be a little affected. Our household is doing the COVID thing here this last week, but I think we're okay. And it's an honor to be able to chat with you today.


Jan 00:56

Well, thank you for taking time out of I guess your testing to talk with us. Well, let's just start off. Give us the good news. What's happening?


Jason 01:06

Yeah, we have a new initiative that we're launching here on early part of 2022, with a ministry partner called Convoy of Hope. And we're just so excited about this new opportunity to serve more kids through the 3 Esthers Farm ministry. And I want to tell you all about it and answer questions and and let you know, kind of the origin story of it and all that in this conversation.


Jan 01:28

Well, that's great. Well, why don't you tell us a little bit about Convoy of Hope. Who are they? What do they do?


Jason 01:33

Yeah, it's a ministry that was started in the 90s by a guy named Hal Donaldson. And he started very simply, in Sacramento area. And he went on a missions trip and met Mother Teresa, and also some very kind of famous missionaries, Mark and Huldah Buntain in India and was inspired by them, and came home. And he started doing these care days, where they would collect groceries and help feed people. And the ministry started from there. And I think in their second year, another larger charity said, you know, we'll give you a lot of food if you can organize some larger events. And they ended up doing a big feeding event in Oakland, California, and then in San Francisco as well. I think there were like, 12,000 people they fed and and that just really kind of exploded their ministry and mission to help feed people. Yeah. So, it's an honor to be able to partner with them. We're really excited about it.


Jan 02:28

And what I understand is now they're headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, is that correct?


Jason 02:34

Yep. That's right.


Jan 02:35

And their source of food is very interesting to me. What is the source of food?


Jason 02:40

Well, they have big donors that do commodity food gifting. And so, Midwestern farmers, and those types of donors that have access to large quantities of food, are ones who equip them. I think, last year, they had $400 million worth of, of giving that they received. And so, they're a large organization now. And we'll be working with them both on receiving food as a commodity item from them and a program will allow us to also hire staff and that kind of thing. So, it's a, it's really an exciting collaboration.


Jan 03:13

Well, and how did this all come about?


Jason 03:15

You know, it's one of those things that I would just say, we're going to chalk up to a total God-thing, a God-blessing in the life of the ministry, and it happened in a way similar to how the 3 Esthers Farm started originally, which was just through a relationship conversation that produced sort of an obvious next step. So the relationship kicked off with some people that one of our board members knows that works at Convoy [of Hope], and that person is named Roger. He hadn't heard about the 3 Esthers Farm or what we were doing. And then we had a conversation and he introduced us to the Africa program people at Convoy and had a great conversation about the 3 Esthers Farm program, but also, mostly in that original conversation, it was about the Sew Powerful purse program. And then one thing led to the next and they did circle back with us and ask if we were interested in being a ministry partner on the ground in Zambia That first conversation, we asked them what they did in Zambia, and they said that they were planning to launch in 2022. And they didn't have a program on the ground there yet. And we just offered to be of service and of help in whatever way we could. And one thing led to the next and the program got formalized, and their Board approved the program in December; their president signed off on it, and our board approved it in December as well. And so we're just starting to set up the details now, this early part of January.


Jan 04:45

Well, so describe what is the program going to look like in Zambia for us?


Jason 04:50



Jan 04:51

What's gonna happen?


Jason 04:52

Yeah, so we have 10 schools that we have worked with locally in Ngombe compound for the purse program. And we're going to now be able to work with them for a daily feeding program serving over 4800 children. I think it's about 4850 kids daily, five days a week with a hot meal. The Convoy of Hope team will provide the the food and capacity in that regard, and then our team will implement on the ground. And so, it's going to be an really an opportunity to collaborate with these 10 schools in new ways, and really strengthen the relationship we have with them. And most of the schools I've been to and have photos from and have met the principals of the schools and, and it's just very, very touching, to be honest, to be able to say now that we can expand our program partnership with them beyond the purse program and also include feeding their kids. And it's just an incredible, incredible, it's a miracle in my view, that we have this opportunity to work with them in this way.


Jan 05:53

Well, you know, when you say schools, I'm thinking of a school building, but I saw a photo of one of the schools and it was was something like a large tent, almost it look like the sides were made out of canvas, a dirt floor, looked like maybe two by four frame. Is that right?


Jason 06:12

Yeah, yeah, that that school you're mentioning is called Generous School. The principal is a wonderful guy named Nickton. We met him in 2017. And the the school you're describing, the way it's constructed, is it was just made out of old recycled billboards. Those big vinyl billboards, that after they're discarded, they use those to turn into sort of like a big Quonset hut tent, or like circus tent or some like small circus tent type thing. And on the outside, it's just all black, because it's the backside of the billboard. But on the inside, you can actually see like doughnuts, and like mobile phones and stuff. And so I have photos of that. We'll have to have on the website here as we go forward. But it is a school that is probably one of the most challenging schools in terms of the physical facility there in Ngombe Compound, but just a beautiful guy, Nickton, and they have 185 kids there. And in general, the way the schools work in Ngombe Compound is there's, there's public schools, and then there are private schools, which would be nice, really kind of expensive. And then there are community schools, which are usually started by a mom or group of moms or somebody, somebody who's just a caring adult, that's just trying to get the kids off the street and get them into some semblance of a school. And so Nickton's school is a community school. And it's a thrill to be able to begin to collaborate with schools that are, in essence, sort of the poorest of the poor. I mean, if you can say it that way, they have the least resources, the least facility, and those are the ones we really feel a burden to help the most. And so, we're designing the program to actually help the schools who have the greatest need, not the schools that have the greatest facility. And that sort of, you know, tension point. But it's important, from our view, to really help the principals who have no one else helping them. They have no facility, they're, you know, they're in setups like, like that one.


Jan 08:10

What are the kids doing for meals now?


Jason 08:13



Jan 08:14

Before we get there?


Jason 08:15

Yeah, most schools that are the community schools, they don't have the budget to provide any kind of hot lunch. And Esther is the principal or director for the Needs Care School, which has been our longtime location since 2009. She's had hit and miss access to food. World Food Program, which is the United Nations program had done food distributions at these schools, on and off, for some of them. It ended, I think, in 2012, or 13. And then it just depends on what they can muster in terms of donations, and that kind of thing. Most of the time, they don't offer any kind of hot lunch. They just wouldn't have the budget for it. And the kids themselves are in households that do not have access to food. It is incredibly, intensely deprived. Most of the households live in extreme poverty, technically, it's below $1.90 a day, per person and most of them wouldn't have food in their household. It's hard for us as Westerners to understand how desperate it is. You know, one time a donor ask is there a mouse and rat problem in Ngombe Compound? And the answer was laughingly No. That's called bushmeat. They eat the mice and rats. And in Africa you can tell a child is malnourished because their hair will turn red on the end the ends. You can see it. And so, it's a desperate situation. This is not a, this is not just a, you know, a kind of unnecessary thing. This is incredibly crucially needed. Nickton, when he found out that his school, Generous School, was going to be included, he sent us a note back and he thanked us. And he said, you know, we have so many kids who are on antiretroviral therapy, HIV AIDS medication. And if they don't have food, that makes them ill, and frequently skipping school. So, he said, this will help us keep our kids in school. So that's kind of the circumstance that we find ourselves in. It is incredibly desperate. And so that's why this is so important for us. And we're so excited about it.


Jan 10:23

Will this new program create any new roles? Will our team members expand?


Jason 10:29

Yeah, that's the exciting part too. We have a budget and figured out a staffing plan to support this that basically has a total team of about 30 people who are going to be joining just for this. And then when you add in the Tikondane Garden program that's growing, then we've got a team, that's about 38 people that will be on the ground here in the next few months. A couple of the roles that are obvious that everybody might enter, like, what is the role, but one of them is just a cook at every school. So every school will have a cook. And these will be part time roles for parents, or you know, the moms or that kind of thing. But every school have a cook. Every school also have a program coordinator. And this is really exciting for the purse makers who are listening to this. They're like, What now?, but listen to this. This is really cool. The schools that we're partnering with have already been beneficiaries of the Sew Powerful purse program. So, their girls have gotten the training; they've gotten the purses. We've always just gone to the school principal and said, hey, you know, here's how it works dot ta dot ta dah. But because we've got the feeding program, that would be every day, you know, five days a week, we're going to have a program coordinator at each school as well, that will administer both programs. They'll administer the feeding program, but they'll also be on point to administer the purse programming work, which means the girls at those schools will have a contact now at every school. There'll be that coordinator, and it'll likely be one of the teachers, you know, who will have basically be, you know, like, in our schools in the US, it's like, okay, which teacher is the volleyball coach in the afternoon or which teacher does the football team or whatever. It'll be something akin to that, where we'll have a teacher at every school, that will be able to be our point person for for both sides, the feeding program work and the purse program work. And, and so that's exciting, as well. And so, and then there are a few other roles. I've got one key staff position, I want to mention, that's just a total, a God thing. There's one staffer who I'm so excited about, and I'm going to tell you the story of and it's in regard to one of our program leaders. And the purse makers don't know the story. And if you're a purse maker, you might have heard this person's name, but you didn't know this backstory that I'm about to tell you. Lentiah is one of our key leaders in the purse program. She's the person we hired, I think in 2012, or 2011, 2012, to be the, the head knitter. She was the knitting machine professional that we brought into the group. And she has over time become our key leader. Well, in 2016, or 17, Esther let me know that Lentiah was going back to college, but still wanted to work with us. But she was going to college to be a nutritionist. And that was really the passion that she was excited about. And so she went to college, and I believe it was in 2019. I'll have to look up the conversation, but I remember Esther came to me and said, you know, we might lose Lentiah; she's finished with her college. And I remember vividly saying to Esther, do whatever you have to do to not lose Lentiah as a team member. And she's become one of our primary directors of the program. But she's had this degree in nutrition. And when we met with the Convoy of Hope people in the fall, one of the roles that they said you need to find locally, there is a nutritionist. And in the moment, I didn't even remember any of this, because it was a couple years back. But afterwards, I said to Cinnamon, we're gonna have to find a nutritionist and she said, Don't you remember that whole thing with Lentiah, she went to school to be a nutritionist? And I said, Wow. So, I talked to Esther and said, Esther, do you think Lentiah would be interested in this whole new program? We need a nutritionist. And she was like, of course. It's It's ordained. It's preordained. So Lentiah will be moving over from the sewing program and being one of the leaders in the nutrition and school feeding program, because her background suits it. And that's really what her passion has been these last few years. And it's one of those examples where it just feels to me like God has been walking before us setting the stage. Now, you know, Lentiah is going to be one of the leaders on the on the feeding program side but all of those school coordinators, they're all going to be working with her. So she knows everything about the reusable hygiene pad product and you know, the purse program. She's going to be able to bring all that expertise into it to work with those school level directors to really make sure the girls get what they need. So anyway, that, to me, that's the coolest staffing story kind of happened as we've launched this. And I'm hoping that the donors see how the Lord is just working with their giving and our efforts to make employment opportunities available for these local folks. So, there you go. That's a long-winded answer.


Jan 15:32

I know. That's alright. I'm so glad you included Lentiah in that. I was going to ask about that anyway. You mentioned donors. Are their funding opportunities specifically for this new feeding program?


Jason 15:44

Yeah, actually, what we've decided to do just to be very clear as to make this a ministry of the 3 Esthers Farm. Of course, that makes sense from, from our view. And so, the 3 Esthers Farm going forward really has three core programs. Now it has the farm itself, and then it has the Tikondane Garden program, the backyard gardens that are growing and scaling, and then it has the school feeding initiative. And so, we're going to actually start proactively raising funds, and asking donors to step up and come alongside us. You might have noticed, but really, as I mentioned, in prior podcasts, we haven't really raised funds for the Farm over the last few years, because we've had donors kind of outgive what we could, you know, implement. And so, the exciting part for this is it's really going to unlock our opportunity to include donors and ask them to step up and participate financially. And we're excited to see what happens. But yes, the opportunity will be there. And as we receive funds, we'll just scale; we'll scale the backyard garden programs, will scale the capacity on the farm property itself. And then ultimately, we believe too we'll also scale the number of schools we serve, through the partnership with Convoy of Hope, so. So, donors, participation, I think is going to be central going forward.


Jan 16:59

I think there's another exciting announcement that you want to make that's all related to this. And it's going to tell people how they can learn more, get involved. How will that happen, and what's new this week, this very week?


Jason 17:13

Well, we haven't had the website, very, you know, put together and we just launched or launching a new, shiny, happy version of It's the number 3, Esthers, And we'll have links to that on sew of course. They'll cross reference each other in the menus and footers. And we'd love to have people go check it out. We're going to do our very best to try to start doing blog posts and updates from the Farm and all of these programs now, because we're getting really just a really good number of photos and videos from various parts of the the effort now. So we'll try our best to make sure that it's a lively and vibrant site where people can find out more, learn about the program work. We are going to end up writing the story of these programs and have that be available as an eBook as well. And so, we're looking forward to having people check that out.


Jan 18:10

So many good and exciting things to kick off 2022. That's just really wonderful. Jason, thank you so much for your time. And thank you so much for your efforts on behalf of hungry children in Lusaka. I mean, these programs are just amazing. Thank you.


Jason 18:27

Thanks, Jan.


Jan 18:28

All right. I'll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.


Jason 18:30



Jan 18:31

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Welcome to Sew Powerful with Jason Miles

We want to make sure that if you are new to Sew Powerful, you feel welcome and have a good understanding of what we do and why we do it. In this episode, Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles talks about the various ways people find Sew Powerful. In addition, Jason introduces us to a brand-new concept: monthly Meet & Greet sessions conducted via Zoom. During these sessions, you will meet Jason and Cinnamon, learn about Sew Powerful, chat with other purse makers, and have a chance to ask questions. It's all casual, fun, and informative. Look for the schedule on the website under Serve With Us > Welcome, where you will also find free downloads and other great information. See you on Zoom!


Pixie Faire, Sewing with Cinnamon, camaraderie, friendship, Meet & Greet, welcome booklet, survey, fun, asking questions, Zoom meetings, Welcome Manager, sewing, ministry, sewing for charity, Sew Powerful


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Sew Powerful Welcome page: https//


Pixie Faire. https://www/

Sewing with Cinnamon & Friends,

Apple TV, Roku, AndroidTV, FireTV, Chromecast, App Store, Google Play Store


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode, so let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Hello Sew Powerful podcast listeners. Today my guest is Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles. And we're going to talk about a new program that's been instituted by Sew Powerful, and we have meetings twice a month. They're called Meet and Greets. And it's an opportunity for people to learn more about Sew Powerful, meet Jason and Cinnamon online. But just as importantly, meet each other. And we've just had so much fun with these, we're going to talk about them and how the program was launched and all the parts and how you can participate. So Hi, Jason, how are you this morning?


Jason Miles, Guest 00:59

I'm great. How are you doing?


Jan 01:00

Oh, just fine, just fine. I want to start out by just making a little personnel announcement to set the stage here. I said in the introduction, we were going to talk about Meet and Greets and how that's such an important part of what we're doing, bringing people to Sew Powerful and making them feel welcome. And to that end, we created a brand new position called Welcome Manager and Betty Johnson, who has served us as the Arizona Regional Coordinator has agreed to take on the role of Welcome Manager. So now it's out there and official and Betty's been been doing it behind the scenes here for the last few weeks. But we're just so glad that she's taken on this responsibility.


Jason 01:46

Well, and not to be too critical of ourselves, but it's sort of a funny story. We had the idea in a brainstorming session recently that we should do Meet and Greets. And then you said, you know, Betty said that a year ago that we should do Meet and Greets. And she'd love to help with that. And I was like, oh my goodness, what? So, we had the idea for longer in the past, and we've executed on but she was passionate about it. And the stars all aligned finally, and now we're doing them. And it's been really amazing. So yeah, it's been neat to see it come together and have her step into the role of leading them.


Jan 02:22

Well, and you're absolutely right. And the other day, I was looking for something in my notes from January of 2021. And I found my notes where Betty had said, you know, we ought to have some kind of a Zoom meeting for people who are new. I was like,


Jason 02:35

Well, it only took us a year.


Jan 02:37

Which is good yeah because now now we have it perfected. So, let's sort of back up a little bit. People that come to Sew Powerful to volunteer for us, how do they typically find us?


Jason 02:49

Yeah, well, it's a great question. We have a lot of people coming and downloading the purse pattern. Hopefully they all make purses, but they don't always you know, it's a free pattern out there. We have several ways in which that's advertised. We have a very, very generous Google Ad grant from the Google Foundation. And so, people from around the the internet, around the world search for key phrases related to Sew Powerful and sewing for charity, that kind of thing and learn about us that way. So we get a lot of people who, when we talk to them, they'll say Oh, I just looked for charity sewing and, and found out about Sew Powerful and I've loved it ever since you know, so we hear that commonly. We also have very, very large audience from Cinnamon's business, Pixie Faire, that she regularly talks about. That's my wife if you're not familiar with our story. So, we started a e-commerce company at our kitchen table in 2007, 2008 on eBay and Pixie Faire dot com's [] the, the you know, one part of that and then Sewing with Cinnamon is the other part of it these days. And so, she has her own growing audience. Over 100,000 people hear from her weekly, and her videos are now streaming on Apple TV and Roku and the App Store, Google Play, and Apple iOS store and Fire TV and on and on. So, her content is out there really, really broadly. And she has a lot about sewing for purpose and she has the tutorials on the purse making. And we have the stories of people like Frienda, our seamstresses in Zambia. We have those stories woven into what Cinnamon does with her community. So, we do get a lot of people who come over from that who are basically looking for doll clothes patterns or like sewing in miniature, they call it and then they find out about Sew Powerful. So those are probably the two biggest ways I'd say.


Jan 04:33

You mentioned the Google Ad Grants. I think there's an interesting statistic that we found from thar in that people were searching for free embroidery patterns, which we offer free embroidery patterns that are actually digitized by Peggy Creighton who's one of our volunteers, very talented digitizer in the world of machine embroidery. And so, if you are an embroiderer, you can find us and get several different beautiful free embroidery patterns. So that's another way people find out about us.


Jason  05:05

And that's just such a beautiful example of somebody using their gifts and talents to help the organization. And so, Peggy does that work, she makes it available to us for free, then we can promote it through the Google Ad Grant, people find out about the Sew Powerful purse program and the need in Zambia for girls to stay in school through the program, and their hearts are touched. And I love that part of it. And you're right, it is one of the things that people search for frequently, and they find the beautiful embroidery design files and jump in with us. So


Jan 05:39

Okay, so now they've found us. What do you recommend somebody do to get started to volunteer for Sew Powerful?


Jason 05:45

Well, we've got a beautiful welcome page, thanks to you and the team that put together the content for that. So, I would say hitting the website and seeing the Serve with Us and the first option there is Welcome. And so, we've got the the resources there, you could describe those better than I can. Obviously, they will have probably gotten either the embroidery files, or the beginner or intermediate purse pattern. And so, they'll have those, they'll have their own mission and purpose about making a purse, maybe that's for us, maybe it's for their own use, but they'll encounter the program details. And we invite them as a first step to make a purse and send it in. And then it goes from there. People get involved in various ways. And we really, really want to connect with people through the program. And I think that's the whole point of the Meet and Greet meetings, you know, as well.


Jan 06:33

Well and we recently put new content on that Welcome page. And it was a little video invitation that you and Cinnamon recorded. And right now, it's living on the Welcome page. But you can expect to see it all over the place as we invite people to join us. I do want to talk about what is on that welcome page for a moment, if you don't mind.


Jason 06:56

Sure, yeah.


Jan 06:57

So when you find us and you choose Serve With Us, and then Welcome, watch the video and you get to meet Jason and Cinnamon as a little prequel to what's about to happen. But we have some resources. One of them is a Welcome Booklet. And it condenses into about six pages, the We Are Sew Powerful book, which is about 375 pages, but you know, obviously, we're only hitting the high points, but the booklet has links for you to go deeper, watch other videos, go to other content. Then when we've tickled your fancy there, you can go to the next option, which is you can get the PDF version of the We Are Sew Powerful book at no cost. So, you can download it and read it. Normally the book sells on Amazon for I don't remember the cost around 11 or 12 dollars?


Jason 07:49

10 to 14, depending on the format. Yeah.


Jan 07:51

Okay. And so, you can get it at no cost from our Welcome page. And then the third thing we have on there is a survey. And we know that people that come to us come from around the world with a variety of talents and skills and backgrounds and education. And so, it's just a little survey that says, you know, do you have experience in any of these areas, and might we call on you if we have a project that requires these skills. And many of you have taken those surveys, and we're collecting all that information and as projects and needs come up, you can expect to hear from us. So, there we have it. And then you get to the bottom of the page, where we really talk about the Meet and Greet. And Jason, do you want to talk a little bit about that? And what's coming up and how that all works?


Jason 08:41

Sure, yeah, it's a very fun format, it's about an hour-long meeting. We do them a couple times a month, and it's casual. We ask everyone to introduce themselves. I mean, we try to make it like if we were having coffee together, you know, meeting up, you know, in the church basement or the community room somewhere and just introducing ourselves to each other. And we'd love to hear people's story and how they heard about Sew Powerful, where they're from and why they're interested. And it's always fun. We always learn exciting things and meet people from interesting places. And we really appreciate the opportunity as well just to build the relationships. And that's a central part of what we're trying to accomplish. You know, it's really make a difference through relationship and connecting with everyone who's interested in you know, making purses together in community and getting to know some new friends. And the world can be sort of a weird and lonely place, especially with COVID right now and these virtual meetings aren't as good as sitting down across the table from somebody but they're close and it does allow us to meet new friends and and to connect with people. So, we hope that it you know, does something in that regard for the participants as well as really give them a sense of camaraderie and the fact that there are like-minded In like-hearted people around the world that they can meet and connect with, and hopefully it's a first step in the relationship in that regard.


Jan 10:07

Well, and you know, what I like is that people who are brand new, who have never made a purse attend; people who have made one or two purses attend and say, Hey, I have a question about, you know, this step in the purse making process. Other people come in and ask questions about the ministry. And then we have people who are very experienced Sew Powerful volunteers, who joined just for the camaraderie. They want to welcome people who are new. And what was so fun in the last one was, as people were giving their backgrounds, there was somebody from, I'm probably going to get the locations wrong, somebody from Kansas and somebody from, I don't know, I want to say maybe Ohio. And as they were giving their backgrounds, it turned out their backgrounds were very similar. And you talked about being lonely. But being better meeting a person, these two people would never have met had, we had meetings in person. So now we've made a connection. And, you know, I have made so many friends from around the world: India, Brazil, the UK, Scotland, the Netherlands, not to mention lots of people in the United States, people I never would have met before, most of whom don't live anywhere near driving distance from my home. So, it's a great way to kick off, your involvement with Sew Powerful. And we have a quick and easy little tool for you to register for whichever session is convenient for you. And they're all listed right there on the website, with a link to the registration, just a quick little form, so that we know you're coming.


Jason 11:45

No, you're so right. That's such a good point, you know, because, you know, if you just think about meeting new people, it can be intimidating. But one thing that always helps is if you have a basis for the relationship, and obviously this program and you know, the passion for sewing, and then the desire to make a difference around the world that gives us a basis for you know, collaborating together. And we it's kind of a known issue, it is kind of a known topic where you can say, Okay, I understand this, I'm comfortable enough meeting people, strangers to me and hoping for the best here. And and it has been just a beautiful thing to see where people can just connect and the Facebook group, if you're not a part of that, we would welcome you into that as well. It's a private Facebook group, I think there's close to 4000 people in there now. And you see the same names over time, and you really do get to know people. And I guess to me, the nice part of that group is just it's all puppies and rainbows and happiness in that group as compared to the wasteland that is most Facebook posts and places. We've really had of just a fantastic cohort of, you know, people who have said here the rules and there's no politics, no divisiveness, no criticism, no unkindness, you know, nothing snarky, and they're going down at all. It's just, you know, wonderful people being encouraging and supportive. So that's sort of the next step after the Meet and Greet in my mind is to, you know, be a part of that group. And, and so yeah, I would just encourage people to take a little bit of a risk and sign up for one of these meetings. And see if you don't meet some nice people, and and if nothing else, get your questions answered about Sew Powerful, and you know, how the program works, and or how to do the pattern, you know, construction steps, or whatever people ask questions about the person making as well in these meetings. And that's all good. It's fun stuff.


Jan 13:28

Yeah. And I would say it's probably the lowest risk thing you're ever going to do. You're going to be welcomed with open arms. And you know, I think about a mother-daughter pair that joined one of our meetings, and they had some questions about, you know, the purses and the ministry and all of that. And lo and behold, three weeks later, over 100 purses arrived from them, because they had their questions answered, and they felt really good about


Jason 13:55



Jan 13:56

it was a good way for them to spend their time, their talents, their resources.


Jason 14:00

That's a good point, the questions that come people's mind about the program really are interesting. And, you know, we all make a lot of assumptions. I mean, whenever we hear about something like this, and, and it's just good to be able to say, what was that correct? Or, you know, is this how this works? And we're happy to answer all of the questions about the program on the ground, how it actually plays out in the lives of the girls in the schools we work with. And, you know, the seamstresses on the team there in Zambia. And so, you do have questions about the ministry of Sew Powerful, this is a wonderful format to to ask them and there's no bad questions. You know, it's just there's nothing, nothing that you could ask that we'd be upset by. We're happy to field all questions. And that reminds me a little bit like being in the booth at the quilt shows when people just come up and you say, you know, here's a program, and they'll just they'll just ask you whatever's top of mind. The questions in the Meet and Greet are a little more composed sometimes and a little more thoughtful, but it's still fun to answer and, and help people learn more about the reality of the challenges on on the ground in places like Ngombe compound in Zambia. Yeah.


Jan 15:04

Well, and I will say Jason and Cinnamon are totally transparent. I mean, honestly, you could ask any question. But if you think maybe you're gonna feel maybe uncomfortable asking the question online, when you sign up, there's a place where you could put your question in there. So that A, you won't forget. Or B, maybe you feel like maybe you wouldn't be comfortable asking, but you probably would be once you get in the meeting and see how casual and friendly it is. But nonetheless, there is a place there on the forum. And we've had some good discussions around topics that people had proposed in advance that we cover. So it's all good. It's all fun.


Jason 15:42

Yeah. Well, hopefully, this sparks people's curiosity enough for them to jump on that Welcome page, sign up for the next Meet and Greet and jump into it with us. Yeah.


Jan 15:52

Well, thank you for your time. And if you're listening, we really encourage you to join us at one of the upcoming Meet and Greet meetings. The schedule is out there on the Welcome page. So, it's Serve With Us, and then Welcome and scroll down to the bottom of the page. And we have the schedule, about six months out. And it's a rolling schedule every month we update it. So, you can't come this month, maybe you can come in the next month or two. So, we look forward to meeting you, it would be so fun to say hi. And when we ask you how you heard about Sew Powerful, and you can say you heard about it on the Sew Powerful Podcast.


Jason 16:29

Oh, one last commentary. The meetings are done on Zoom. And if you're not comfortable or familiar with Zoom, it does use your computer's microphone and camera. And so ideally, you'd have both rigged up and have used both. You can join by phone or iPad as well. And that way we can, you know, see each other and you know, you can talk and ask questions in the group and all that. So that sort of a technical note, but it is helpful for people to understand that. So, it's not just listening to like a phone call, for example. It's a little more high tech, right.


Jan 16:58

And when you sign up, you get an automated reply, and it has the Zoom link. And it also has a little link to actually a YouTube video that shows you how to use Zoom if you've never done it before. So, you should feel comfortable and prepared. And if you're not used to Zoom, we know that that everybody has to jump on at some point and we're happy to help you get going.


Jason 17:24



Jan 17:25

Okay, well thank you so much. And we will see you on Zoom and please give us likes or thumbs up and subscribe to the Sew Powerful Podcast. Share it with your friends; you can link it in emails and send the information on to others in that way too. So, we look forward to having you be among our podcast fans. We'll talk to you later. Bye.


Jason 17:49

Bye, Jen.


Jan 17:50



Jan 17:51

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW WPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Blessed By Service Projects with Jan Cancila

In this episode Jan Cancila and Jason Miles change hats with Jason serving as host and Jan sitting in the guest chair. Service projects is a topic near to Jan's heart and in this episode, Jan shares the fascinating back stories for several organizations that have chosen Sew Powerful as the beneficiary of their service project. You will learn about a new volunteer role that has just been filled to put greater emphasis on supporting and developing service projects along with the various resources we offer service project leaders. Lots of shout outs too, so listen for your name.


Service projects, examples, backstories, church groups, Star Wars fan group, Houston Quilt Festival, purse making, volunteers, university fashion design, third graders, service project starter kit


Host: Jason Miles
Guest: Jan Cancila


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Sew Powerful Podcasts:

  • Eps 12: The Business Owner and the School Teacher with Theresa Dellaport and Vivian Sylvester
  • Eps 16: Fashion Design Students Break Barriers with Sue Banman Sileci and Victoria Batista
  • Eps 32: Texas Pin Pals on a Mission with Rose Turner
  • Eps 38: Introduction to The East Los Angeles Stitchers with Gloria Molina
  • Eps 56: Bountiful Blessings with Chris McMullen
  • Eps 73: Meet a Star Wars Costume Maker with a Surprising Connection to Sew Powerful with Katherine Winchell

Sharman’s Sewing Center,

Sew Special Quilts,

Star Wars Rebel Legion,

Olive Branch Fair Trade Shop and Missions, Wexford, PA,

Service Project Starter Kit,


Jan Cancila, Guest 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jason Miles, Host 00:19

Welcome, everybody to the Sew Powerful podcast. I'm your guest host today, Jason Miles. And I'm interviewing our own Jan Cancila. How are you, Jan?


Jan 00:29

I am fine. I am so excited about our topic today. And I've had several people say that I should be the guest on the podcast. And they think I'm going to talk about me, but I'm not going to talk about me.


Jason 00:41

Okay, well, we got a big reveal coming up here. We're not going to talk about you and your, your background. But we're going to talk about a fun topic that you've led the way with. And that is service projects using the Sew Powerful purse as a service project in your community to make a difference locally, but also to help the girls in Africa. So, I know it's a topic that's near and dear to your heart. You want to tell us a little bit about what service projects are and how that whole thing came together?


Jan 01:09

Well, I guess this is a little about me. I have a background as a project manager and I sort of think of a service project in a similar way in that it's an existing organization or an individual who has a requirement such as a student who has to do community service type work for graduation requirements, who wants to do something of a charitable nature. And in our case, they select Sew Powerful. And it's time bound. That's the other part of it. It's not like ongoing. So, I have a start date. And I have a stop date. And I do other things; I might do other charitable things. But for this one instance, I'm going to support Sew Powerful. This is different than an individual purse maker who says, oh, I want to be of service. I think I'll do a service project. Well, we look at this a little differently. You would be a purse maker joining the hundreds and hundreds of other purse makers who make them when they have time. Sometimes they make them and it's a one time, you know, we might get three or four purchases from one person. That's it. Or usually what happens after you make one or two or three or four, you get hooked and you make more, but we're looking for individuals who are doing this with a timeframe and for a specific reason. And they've chosen Sew Powerful as the beneficiary.


Jason 02:35

Wow. Okay, so and it's just so fun to see these start to pop up and to come together. We haven't been doing this for too long formally. It's really kind of come together with resources and sort of a system and support for it under your leadership. So that's exciting to see. Can you tell us a little bit about maybe one or two that stand out in your mind and why they came maybe one of the early ones that you remember popping up and what it meant for you and, and them as they started it?


Jason 03:04

Well, one or two is going to be really hard for me.


Jason 03:06

That's Okay. That's alright. So start with one.


Jan 03:10

I'll start with one. Vivian Sylvester came to my attention. She is the coordinator of missions and more for her church in Pennsylvania. And the church has something called the Olive Branch Fair Trade Shop and Missions. And I know Vivian took a trip to Zambia in 2017 with you. And as part of her mission work for her church, she has chosen Sew Powerful and the Olive Branch Ministry has submitted well you know, back when I recorded this with Vivian a year plus ago, they had done over 1000 purses.


Jason 03:50



Jan 03:50

They must be over 1500 1800 by now. I would think if if not 2000.


Jason 03:56

Every month we open boxes. There's a nice couple packages from Olive Branch. Yeah, it's a huge, huge blessing. Yeah.


Jan 04:03

Well and the funny thing is the most prolific purse maker in the group is the lady named Flo who is in her nineties, and she makes the majority of the purses and Vivian says she doesn't want recognition. It's you know her personal ministry to do it.


Jason 04:19



Jan 04:20

And the purses are just beautiful and we're so honored that Olive Branch and that Vivian found us and and partnered with us, so it's just been a fantastic partnership.


Jason 04:30

Well I what I love about that is the fact that of course the impact in Zambia is obvious: the girls get you know purses and the supplies they need but the impact there locally for the ministry and for you know a local person like Flo who obviously has a heart for mission and a heart to see you know people's lives change and has a calling to serve, has an outlet for that service because of this. To me I love that part of it. That's true with individual purse makers that sit down at their sewing machine, but when a coordinator can make that reality for a group, it's just very special in my mind. So that's great. Other examples that come to mind? I know that you've got a long list. We just were talking about them earlier and you started rattle them off, and I was like, oh my goodness, there's so many amazing stories to talk about. Tell us about a few more if you want.


Jason 05:18

Well okay, and I want to say that if you want to look up the podcast with Vivian that was number 12. Number 16 was with Sue Badman Sileci. And Sue lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And she had connected with the university there whose name I could not pronounce in a million years. But the fashion design students there chose Sew Powerful purses as that creativity outlet for the students. And it's just been very rewarding. And the fashion students recruited others from throughout the university to help them make the purses and they send them in. There's probably one big shipment that comes in once a year from them. So that's great.


Jason 06:01

I love that example. When we first heard about that, and Sue mentioned it that she was teaching the girls there, you know how to do the purses, and they sent photos and stuff. It was just so exciting to hear that, you know, a university group, the girls are excited about it. They're really passionate about it. And so, I love that story. Okay, great. All right,


Jan 06:19

Well and there's an even funnier part is that the connection was made in a dog park. Sue was with her dog in a dog park and met the instructor who had her dog in the dog park. And the rest is history.


Jason 06:30

So that's awesome.


Jason 06:31

Always an interesting story. Number 32 was a podcast I did with Rose Turner, who was the coordinator of a group near the Dallas Fort Worth area called the Texas Pin Pals. And they're a charitable group. And they adopted Sew Powerful, and they sent us 50 purses. So that was a great one. And this one was a surprise to us. There's a woman named Gloria Molina. And if you live in California, you probably know her name because she's very active and in elected office in California. She's even served in the White House under a couple of presidents. But after she retired from her public life, she established TELAS, which is The East Los Angeles Stitchers. And Gloria is a prolific quilt maker, and she put all these women together. And at the Houston quilt festival, one of the people that came with Gloria learned about Sew Powerful, took the information back and the group decided to make purses. And we didn't even know about any of this until 200 purses arrived from The East Los Angeles Stitchers. And the more we investigated, the more interesting it was. So, they're a group that focuses on preserving the Latino culture through the needle arts. And so, they did the service project. But what was cool was that individual members loved doing it so much, they sort of formed their Friday night branch, and they would meet by Zoom and drink wine and make purses. Maybe talk about purses, I don't know how much sewing was going on. But you know, they sort of formed a little spin off as a result. So that was so cool.


Jason 08:10

That is really, really awesome. I love that one. I hadn't heard that whole backstory, um, as it relates to that group. So, wow. Yeah, very cool. Okay, what else you got any others you want to mention?


Jan 08:20

Well yeah, and I...


Jason 08:21

Go as long as you want here.


Jan 08:22

Okay, so number 56 is a recording I did with Chris McMullen. And I want to make an announcement here. So, Chris McMullen has served as the Regional Coordinator for Missouri. She's based in Kansas City. And last spring, she came across a nonprofit organization in Kansas City called The Sewing Lab. And the idea of The Sewing Lab is to teach a sewing skill to immigrant women who have come to the United States. And I was like, well, wow, they're indigent, they don't have a skill, they need a job, they're learning to sew. I'm like, wow, that's such a parallel to the sewing co-op that we have in Zambia. So Chris got involved with them. And she's actually taught a couple of classes there. And there's a fabric exchange and people just go there and make purses because maybe they don't own a sewing machine or have access to fabric. And so, The Sewing Lab has sent several boxes of purses to us. But


Jason 09:28



Jan 09:28

Chris has just accepted a new role with Sew Powerful and effective at the beginning of this year, she became the Service Project Manager. So, Chris


Jason 09:39

Oh, my


Jan 09:39

is going to become the contact, the encourager for people who are doing service projects, but she's also going to reach out to national and regional organizations and explain Sew Powerful to them, so that they can encourage their local membership to support Sew Powerful as as service project, so.


Jason 10:00

Wow, man, that's really really cool. So, we're beefing up the the systems and the team and everything to support the service projects. Tell us about one that came up in the Sew Powerful Live we did yesterday. Dana didn't know about it, but it was the Rebel Legion or Rebel Alliance?


Jan 10:17

Rebel Legion Legion Outpost, actually from Australia. So, this was podcast number 73. This is probably the most surprising podcast that I ever did. So, Julie Winchell is the chapter leader for the Sew Sisters of Northwest Washington. She's based in Arlington, Washington. And her daughter, Katherine is a costume maker for Star Wars events. So, these costumes are very detailed. And I mean, Katherine is an excellent seamstress, and she has a lot of leadership skills. So, she's organizing all these things. And they had a big event in the Fall, and as a service project tied in with this event, they encouraged all their local groups, which we would call chapters they call outposts because it, you know, mirrors the Star Wars world,


Jason 11:09



Jan 11:09

But they encourage them to make purses. And the cool thing is, these people all sew because they make costumes. So last week at the Sew Powerful live event, here comes a big box of purses from the Rebel Legion Outpost in Australia.


Jason 11:27

No, it was from Mos Eisely. Which is a joke because that's the Star Wars city.


Jan 11:32

Oh, oh, oh, okay.


Jason 11:33

And Dana kept saying it: Mos Eisley.


Jan 11:36

But it was from Australia.


Jason 11:37

Yes, it was it was


Jan 11:39

Okay. Yes. I'm not a Star Wars person, so I didn't get that joke.


Jason 11:42

So yeah, yeah. No, that was so awesome.


Jan 11:46

But I have to tell you one more cool thing. So, when I'm interviewing Katherine, I'm interviewing her about all this. And I just as an aside, it just popped into my head, I said, so what is your day job? What do you do when you're not, you know, doing all this work for Star Wars? She operates the cameras on the rovers on Mars. So,


Jason 12:06



Jan 12:06

Yes, so she has like the most out of this world job I've ever hear of.


Jason 12:10

For real.


Jan 12:10

So anyway, that was that was very cool. So yeah,


Jason 12:14

Well, your list of service projects, I think goes on and on quite a bit. And it's so exciting to hear about these, I want to hear more. But I also want to just encourage anyone who's listening that if you are piqued in your curiosity or interest about how service projects might work for you, we do have the resources on the website. Right. So, in the menu structure,


Jan 12:35

Yeah, it's under Serve With Us and then Service Project.


Jason 12:39

There you go. And so, you've got resources there for them and, and the whole nine yards. Well, do you want to mention the others that are top of mind or


Jan 12:46

Yeah, and let me talk a little bit about that Service Project Starter Kit.


Jan 12:49

When you go to the Serve With Us and Service Project, you fill out a quick form. And by return email, or right there on the screen, you get a link to our Service Project Starter Kit. It's an eight-page booklet that has all kinds of information about Sew Powerful, but it has links to videos and other resources. But it also has a step-by-step guide for getting your service project off the ground. And so, we want everybody who might be interested to feel free to, to request the booklet, take a look and see if that's something that your organization would like to do.


Jason 12:49



Jason 13:26

Oh, I love that. Okay, so let me just ask you, before we tell a final story or two, what are the types of scenarios in which this makes sense? Like you mentioned a university, you know, group of students, the Rebel Legion, which is a costume Star Wars fan group, you mentioned the Olive Branch Missions, which is a missions department in a church. What else just in terms of broad context, do you think makes sense for people or what have you seen people doing these for or from?


Jan 13:52

Well, I mean, we just had a Girl Scout troop ask for the starter kit. We've had lots of church groups, the women's sewing guild within a church. And you know, sort of a funny one is our Savior Lutheran Church, and I thought it was one church. Well, I guess that's a popular name for a Lutheran church and there is the Grand Forks, Minnesota church that's done 150 purses for us, and the St. Charles, Missouri church that did 90. So, church groups, the women's guild there in the church, youth groups. We had an outside organization come to a high school and get volunteers and then I'm going to tell you a little story about my third-grade service project girl, so


Jason 14:35

Oh Okay, yeah, let's.


Jan 14:37

Well, I want to back up because, you know, at that same Houston Quilt Festival, where The East Los Angeles Stitchers found us, we also made a contact with some high-level people at Baby Lock, and that resulted in Baby Lock asking their dealers to support [Sew Powerful purse making] sew days during the fourth quarter of 2019. And that's resulted in many ongoing blessings to us. And there's just two quick ones that I want to mention. One is Sharman's Sewing Center. They're in East Texas, and they have produced over 200 purses. And every few months, they just send in a big box of purses. And they have sew days and customers make them at home. They collect them for us. And so, they've been an ongoing blessing for us from this chance encounter that happened in 2018 and here we are four years later. One of the other Baby Lock dealerships that participated in sew days was one in Katy, Texas, which is just outside of Houston, not too far from my home, and I actually visited with them and conducted a sew day. But they've continued to send purses to us, but I put a little flyer up on their bulletin board back in December of 2019. And fortunately, nobody has taken it down. So, there's the cutest little gal named Lucy, who is in the third grade in a school in Katy, Texas. And she volunteered for an after-school program called Read, Deed and Run. So, she's agreed to read 26 books, run 26.2 miles,now this is over the course of a year, and then do 26 hours of some kind of service project. And her mom was shopping at the Sew Special Quilt store in Katy, Texas, saw the flyer on the bulletin board a year and a half after I put it up there and said, I think my daughter, Lucy could make purses for Sew Powerful as part of Read, Deed and Run. So, Lucy, with her mom's help, made five purses, and she has sent them into us. But the other cool thing was as her mom learned more and more about Sew Powerful to help her daughter, her mom took this idea to her Quilt Guild, and now they've chosen Sew Powerful as a service project.


Jason 17:14

Wow, that is really, really cool. So, from third graders to 90-year-olds, we've got people participating in the service projects. Well, this is really, really exciting. Jan, do you just give us a final encouragement for anybody who's considering it or thinking about it?


Jan 17:31

Sure. Check out our website and you can look under Serve With Us and Service Projects, get the the starter kit. You can also contact Chris McMullan, her email is Christine And just think about it, pray about it, get started and make some purses and send them in. And I think so many of these organizations took it on as a one-time project. And then it's spun off into inspiration for individuals who have continued.


Jason 18:06

Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for allowing me to be the guest host today, and interview you. And if you're listening to this podcast on any player of choice, of course, we'd love your subscription to that, hit subscribe, or like, do whatever you can give us the heart, or the thumbs up, whatever the tool lets you do, wherever you're listening. And we're really grateful for any reviews you might leave. And for your support for the show. Every person that you talk to the show about or you share it with, can learn more about the program and grow in their own relationship with us. And that's of course, really, really helpful. So, Jan, thank you again so much for being our guest today and the show. And we'll see you on the next podcast.


Jan 18:47

All right, thank you. Bye bye.


Jason 18:49



Jan 18:51

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization, is where you can download the free purse patterns, or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Personal Mission Statement with Jason Miles

Start the new year with a resolution to create your own personal mission statement. In this episode, Sew Powerful co-founder Jason Miles shares his personal mission statement and talks about the inputs we need to create our own. Read Acts 17:6 to find the foundation for Jason's mission statement. Several other passages, as well as references to various personality and work style tests, are provided that will help you develop your own mission statement. There is even a challenge to see where we are by December of this year. Happy New Year!


personal mission statement, scripture, personality assessments, gifts, new years resolution, service


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Youth With A Mission (YWAM),


The Birkman Method Personality Test,

Myers-Briggs Type Indicatgor,


Biblical passages: Acts 20; 2 Corinthians; Ephesians 4:1-12; Hebrews 12: 1 Peter 4:10


Jan Cancila, Host 00:27

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know, the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:42

Hello, Sew Powerful podcast listeners. Today we are going to talk about personal mission statements. And, you know, it's the beginning of the year and lots of people have New Year's resolutions, and maybe developing a personal mission statement might be on the top of your list. So we're going to talk with Jason Miles, co-founder of Sew Powerful, about his personal mission statement and get some ideas about how we can develop one for ourselves. So good morning and happy new year, Jason,


Jason Miles, Guest 01:13

Happy New Year. How are you?


Jan 01:15

Oh, I am great. I am great. We're going to be talking about personal mission statements today. I know it's a passion of yours.


Jason 01:23



Jan 01:24

Let's start out: What is your personal mission statement?


Jason 01:28

Yes. Well, I love the topic. And I'm excited to talk about this one. I don't think I've ever really expressed this publicly or talked about it in this way. And so, I guess I'm sort of revealing a little bit of what I've worked on a long time that never really talked about. And so, to answer your question, I'm called to serve and mobilize those who are turning the world upside down. And I'm happy to explain the, you know, kind of backstory, and that's a reference to Scripture, if you're not familiar with it, and there's a whole story behind it. But that's my personal mission statement. I love helping people. And I love helping people who are making a difference in the world. And that's what I'm called to do. I'm clear on that.


Jan 02:11

How did you come to that clarity?


Jason 02:13

Well, it was in graduate school, we had a class and the professor made us as an assignment, work on our personal mission statement. I'm so glad he did. His name is Joe Machias. And it's a wonderful conversation, you know, initially and then work in that semester. And so, it was an assignment. And it really prompted my thinking, though. And so what I did was I just started praying about it, thinking about it, trying to get clear, of course, journaling ideas. And then I asked myself this question like, Is there is there Jason in the Bible? I thought there was, but I've never really looked at it or thought it through. And then I found the story in Acts 17, where Paul and Silas are a little bit on the run. And the mob in the marketplace can't find them. So, the scripture says, I'll just loosely paraphrase it, when they couldn't find them, Paul and Silas, they dragged Jason and certain brothers under the rulers of the city crying, these who have turned the world upside down have come here, and Jason has helped them. And when I read that, I was like, lightning bolts. Like who is this Jason guy, and Jason of Thessalonica, and he helped Paul and Silas. Oh, man, that's an inspiration. Now, no one in the world cares about that scripture, really. But the phrase that they turn these people who are turning the world upside down, or other translations say causing trouble all over the world, that phrase stood out to me. And the fact that Jason wasn't the guy doing it, he wasn't the one turning the world upside down. He was just helping the people who were turning the world upside down. And so right when I got that it clicked for me. And it fit with what I'm all about, as I prayed about and thought about it. And so there you go. So that's sort of the story of, of how I came into the idea.


Jan 04:06

Well, I have to ask, your mom is a woman of faith, did she choose your name based on that scripture?


Jason 04:12

No, I was gonna be Eric, I think for eight and a half months out of the nine months of pregnancy. And then somehow it switched, but I don't think it had anything to do with that passage.


Jan 04:24

Okay. alright.


Jason 04:24

But yeah.


Jan 04:25

I had to ask. So, you have a personal mission statement. And man, that is so fitting. Do you have examples of other people? Do other people have personal mission statements you can share?


Jason 04:37

Well, I can mention Cinnamon has been working on hers lately. And so, hers is a fun one, and she's kind of gone through this exercise. I guess maybe because I've been asking; I've been asking my kids and her so her wording that she's really focused on right now is: she's called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And I'll tell you a little bit of the backstory. I don't think she'd mind at all because she's talked about this a lot. You know, after high school she went to some missions with Youth With A Mission. YWAM is an organization many people would be familiar with. And she served in Eastern Europe. And so, the structured program with Youth With A Mission has discipleship training, basically kind of like coursework or college classes. And then you go out and do practical work in the field in some form of variety. And so, she came away from that entire experience being very clear that they pushed pretty hard for many other people to really kind of be evangelists and really be the proclaimers of the gospel. And that didn't suit her at all. It just didn't suit her personality; she just, that's just not how she's wired. But in her service projects, they went and helped build houses with the minority people group around the Black Sea somewhere, and I forget the details, but they were basically this, you know, displaced people group, and they didn't have houses, and it was wintertime and, and Cinnamon and their, their group just helped them build houses. And her redeeming memory of YWAM was that part of it. And so, it really, I think, compelled her to be clear that she's, she's passionate about the service, and being the hands and feet and those elements of implementation of our service for Christ, not so much the pastoral teaching or speaking. And I always get in trouble, because I'll always be like Cinnamon, let's talk in front of this group or whatever. And I always know that's not her preference, but I don't think it through usually, and then then she will talk it through and, and I'll real realize she's not comfortable doing that stuff. It's not her calling. And so that's her personal mission statement. It's been fun journey for us to be on together, because ours are different, but I think complementary, and yeah, so there you go.


Jan 06:57

So Cinnamon is working on hers, I presume, you know, it might always be a work in progress. You might always be refining it. But yeah, advice would you give to someone who's trying to develop their own mission statement? I mean, what kind of aspects of your life should you take into consideration in developing this, so you can be successful; so you can live your mission?


Jason 07:20

Yeah, yeah, I think you're probably working through a set of ideas or concepts. It's a mix, you know, those Venn diagrams, where there's like three bubbles that overlap, and there's some something in each of the bubbles, that kind of idea comes to mind. I think the first thing is your personal style or personality. There are a lot of tools that are available to people to take, because I think God's made us uniquely obviously, He has, and each of us have a different personal comfort level with different types of activities and work. So, there are many, many tools. A lot of people like Enneagram. Kolbe is one that we just did as a leadership team for Sew Powerful. The Birkman, Myers-Briggs, there's so many personality assessments that will help give you some insight into what your natural style is. And I think that's the first thing. I think the second thing is probably your life experiences, and life circumstances, and what your kind of reality has been in your career, or your family circumstance growing up. Those things shape us, of course. And so that's the second thing is your experiences. And I think the third thing is probably for those of us who are believers, listening specifically to the voice of the Lord in our life. I believe He speaks to us; I believe He sorts this out with us. And it's our mystery for us to unpack and figure out and it's, I think, His joy to help us figure out how to get clear on our personal mission statement and life's calling. And so, I think, you know, if you're confused about it, I think prayer and just asking the Lord, to get, you know, to give you clarity and to speak to you, and I believe He'll do it. And I think those three things together really swirl, you know, together a bit to make this unique and special for each of us.


Jan 09:10

Jason, by having a personal mission statement, and having that guidance in your life, does that bring peace to you? Does that, does that help you make decisions? How does having this personal mission statement affect your daily life?


Jason 09:27

Yeah, I think the reason this has stuck in my mind since whatever it was 2004 or something like that when I was in graduate school, I think the reason it stuck with me so long is because it has had utility in my thinking process and in my decision making. I think when, as I reflect on it personally, when I've been confused, or felt overwhelmed when I felt like you know, there's not just two paths that divide in the woods and you get to take one. There's like 72 paths every day, I have no idea what I'm doing right now. I think in times like that this is the kind of helpful tool that allows you to center yourself and go back to basically what you might call first principles, which is like, what am I called to do? What is God said to me? What scripture verse has He given to me as a promise? And it really helps you combat overwhelm, and combat the sense of, you know, kind of distraction, because there's frequently good things that aren't the right thing. And that's the hard part, you know. And so I think it's useful in that regard. And then it also I think, helps you have what you might call a defense system. Because let's just say you're asked to do a great thing, lead something or join a board or like, whatever it is, and you feel kind of like, gosh, they're good people and that's an important thing. But you can frequently and easily just be guilted into everything. And so having a personal mission statement, and something you're very clear on, allows you to sort of have a framework for saying, you know, what, that's just not in my wheelhouse. I'm actually called to dadadadada. And so, and it helps, because then you can say, well, I don't feel bad about it. I don't feel bad saying no, I'm happy to say no, because that means I'm saying yes, to my purpose in calling in a constructive way, you know.


Jan 11:31

Thank you. That's really inspirational. I like that answer a lot. You refer to that there were some scripture verses that helped you out. Can you tell us about some of those?


Jason 11:41

Oh, sure. There's so many passages about this. And I would just encourage people to explore passages related to God's calling on individual people's lives in the Bible, but also passages that are clearly related for New Testament believers. And there are many. 1 Peter 4:10, I'll mention, Ephesians 4: 1-12, Hebrews 12. There's just so many. 2 Corinthians, that just go on and on in the New Testament, Acts chapter 20, is when Paul reveals his tentmaker calling very, very clearly. And there are just so many. And 1 Peter 4, I'll mention, verse 10, says, Each of you should use whatever gift you've received, to serve others. Now that is specific. And that's not a general like, Hey, you're all Christians, you've all gotten grace, you've all got mercy. That's not this. That's not a general statement. That's a specific statement. Each of you should use whatever gift you've received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. That phrase, that verse is very interesting. That's 1 Peter 4:10. And I love that passage. And if it's okay, I'll just mention also Ephesians. Because Ephesians 4:1-12 also has this interesting wording. And you can read the whole thing, but in particular, verse seven, it says, but to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. And then it goes on to say, when He ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people. That's not talking about some random spiritual thing that's talking about, like, are you gifted, in a specific way. And, you know, to me, that's why, you know, the purse program is so beautiful. Because when we were able to say to people in the sewing community, 'Would you like to make a purse for a girl in need?,' it just was an immediate, like, Oh, I'm gifted at that. And that's, that's God's guidance in people's lives. And so to me, this comes down to practical, tactical, every day, work-a-day kind of efforts, and the scriptures completely and totally back that up. If you really study the New Testament, it is clear, each of us has a calling and a mission. And we're supposed to live it out with grace in service to others.


Jan 14:06

How is having a mission statement different than your passion? I mean, lots of people have passions and they follow their passion.


Jason 14:15

Yeah. I think there's an interesting twist here, which is the specific leading or direction of the Lord. And I don't think we're called to be masochists. But we're clearly called a pickup our cross and follow Christ. And there's something about the sacrificial service that He calls us to that frequently is not in our interest. It's in terms of our mind, like would would we rather do go to Disneyland or give away all of our possessions to the poor? And yet somewhere specifically Christ is called people to do sacrificial service. And I think that's the difference between just, you know, your personal passion and what your personal mission statement is. It's an assignment. I'll be speaking this Sunday at our church and the passage I'm going to be using, it's when Christ was on the cross, and he looked down, and he saw the women standing there, including his mother. And then he saw the apostle John, who wrote the book of John and the Revelations and first John, and other chapters and books. And Christ's statement is, 'Woman, behold, your son,' pointing to John, and to John, 'Behold your mother.' And then it says, 'From that day forward, he took her into his home.' Now, that's a specific calling on John's life, that's very unique. I can't imagine he was standing there thinking that that was going to happen, or that that was going to be his life's calling. For as long as Mary, the mother of Christ was alive, he was responsible to take care of her. And so, I do think that there's this element in our lives as believers where God will surprise us. And he'll ask us to do stuff that we have no desire to do. And those will be our greatest challenges, but it'll be our greatest service to Him.


Jan 16:20

Why do you think having this mission is underdeveloped in Christians? I don't. I don't know many people that specifically can say, I have a personal mission statement.


Jason 16:31

Yeah. I think it's probably one of those areas where we've done a disservice if I can say that by the usage of scriptures like Ephesians 4, where we talked about or people talk about the fivefold ministries: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, as if that's the list. And anyone who really studies the New Testament would realize that's not the list. That's a list. That's five things that are types of service in the kingdom, but they're not the definitive lists. And they're certainly not the one that's prescribed for us individually. And so, I think it's frequently been just created in such a way or in terms of how it's been presented to us that you're either called to the ministry or not, that's just a fake. There's nothing in the New Testament that this like that. This is just, this is not, that's not even New Testament thinking at all, you know. And yet, that's sort of our common cultural practice here in the United States. And it's wrong. And I think each of us are responsible to grow up and be mature in the body of Christ and say, What is He calling me to do? And sometimes that happens, because people project things on to us, you know, where like, somebody will say, you're supposed to be a pastor. And then you struggle with being a pastor or trying to be a pastor, and you realize, I'm not called to be a pastor. This was wrong. I was wearing the wrong suit; I was supposed to be wearing overalls, and having a shovel in my hand, and I had to wear a suit on Sunday, and it just didn't, it didn't work. And so sometimes it's reactive, you know, that we sort these things out. But I do think it's on each of us. And regardless of what we've been taught this way, in our churches or not, God's called us to serve each other and to serve the poor, with our specific gifts and talents. And it's just worked for us to do to really get clear on


Jan 18:31

Jason, here we are at the beginning of a new year. And like I said, during the intro, people are planning out their year, they're writing their New Year's resolutions. So, if somebody has on their list, develop a personal mission statement, what are the next steps? What would you like our listeners to do?


Jason 18:50

I think it's a fantastic goal, I would give yourself a goal to have it sorted out this year. You know, just say, Hey, I'm gonna I'm gonna take a year. And this is gonna be my year of getting clarity on my personal mission statement. And then do journaling; maybe take some personality assessments, the ones we mentioned; maybe start to read Scripture with that question on your heart and pray about it and ask the Lord to be clear with you in terms of His Word, in your life, specifically. And then listen. You know, listen for what people say to you, what, what the Lord says to you in your prayer time. I think those things are the the tools that we will use to put this together. And you're right, it's a work in progress. I think we can get close to sorting it out. We can get within, you know, an arm's length of getting being clear. And think that's the work involved. And so I wouldn't say it's a onetime one minute thing, because if you do it in one minute, and you think you're done, it wouldn't have meant meant anything anyway. That's just a silly idea. But to really invest a year into this, I think would be a wonderful exercise for everybody and it's the first part of the year is we're recording this and, and it's a good opportunity and time of the year for people to think it through.


Jan 20:05

Well, I think that at the end of 2022, we should have a little get together and just see how everybody's done on developing a personal mission statement. So if you're listening to the Sew Powerful podcast, you have your assignment for 2022. And in December of this year, we'll figure it out and see where we are. Jason, thank you so much for your time. This has been a really fascinating conversation. I appreciate it very much.


Jason 20:33

Thanks so much. It's an honor to collaborate together on these conversations. And thanks for your hard work on all the podcasting effort as well. It's an honor to collaborate.


Jan 20:42

Well, thank you. And you know, I sort of feel like maybe this is my gift, and it certainly wouldn't have been one listed in the Bible: podcasters.


Jason 20:53

That's funny. No, you wouldn't find that in the New Testament.


Jan 20:56

I know, I've looked for it I can't find it. Anyway. Okay. Well, thank you so much. Have a good day.


Jason 21:02

Bye. Bye.


Jan 21:03

Bye. Bye. We'll talk to you soon.


Jan 21:06

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns, or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Messiah Complex with Jason Miles

In our continuing series, Jesus and the Poor, Sew Powerful co-founder Jason Miles explains what we mean by 'Messiah Complex'. What is it? Why should we avoid it? Could our good intentions turn into bad outcomes if we are not aware? Comparing 1 John 3:16 to John 3:16, we look at the role of sacrificial servants and what this means for the Sew Powerful ministry in Zambia.


messiah complex, servant leadership, international relief and development work, co-creation, aid workers, community and culture, local assets, what is working well, ego, correct mindset, walking with the poor


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Servant Leadership, A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, by Robert Greenleaf, © 1976 Paulist Press, all rights reserved.

Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, by Bryant L Myers, © 2011, Orbis Books, all rights reserved.

John 3:16

1 John 3:16


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Good morning Sew Powerful podcast listeners. Today we are going to be speaking with Jason Miles as we continue our series Jesus and the Poor. Good morning, Jason, how are you today?


Jason Miles, Guest 00:32

Great. How are you?


Jan 00:33

Well, this is Christmas week. So Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Jason 00:38

Thank you, Merry Christmas to you as well. It's an exciting time of year to think about Jesus and great time with family and friends. So yeah, looking forward to having a wonderful week.


Jan 00:48

Oh, that's fantastic. You know, today we're going to talk about Messiah complexes. And it's an interesting topic that you don't hear about a lot. But I presume it's really important in our world.


Jason 01:03

It absolutely is. It's an interesting thing to think through. And, and I first heard this phrase and this topic, probably 20 years ago, when I was starting to learn about international relief and development work and working with the poor. And this concept has sort of stuck with me; this question of what is the Messiah Complex? And am I operating with one installed in my brain or heart or mind? And making sure that I don't, it's a negative phrase, and we want to walk through that idea today and really explain the idea, I think, so people are clear, and get a little bit out of the conversation about just their own heart and, and mind towards serving. Yeah.


Jan 01:45

So, why don't we start out, can you define what a Messiah Complex is?


Jason 01:50

Sure, yeah. The concept is that, in your heart or mind, as a development practitioner, or someone who's working with the poor, you believe you're the answer. And you operate from the thesis that you going, you participating, you showing up is somehow the solution. And and to some degree, you're then installed in the role of the the savior of the person or people group that you're working with. So, it's a negative connotation. And it's intended to make I think all of us think about our motives and what we're really trying to do psychologically, in our own heart and mind and and then how that plays out through our words and our actions.


Jan 02:35

Well, how would I know if if I have a Messiah Complex?


Jason 02:39

Yeah, I think the heart of it really is to question yourself about the specific reasons you're going or working with people, the specific reasons behind what you're believing you're doing. And I think the general idea is to ask the question, Who is it that is getting credit in this situation. And credit is a big underlying thing for us psychologically. And sometimes we don't even realize what we're doing is for social status, or for virtue signaling, for receiving some kind of appreciation from our friends, family, the community, that culture, and if we're operating to the extent in our work with others, that we're positioning ourselves so that we get credit, then it's a yellow flag, a red flag, that we've got something going on in our mind and our heart that's messed up. And for those of us who are believers, we want to point the way to Jesus. And we want to point clearly to the fact that he is the solution to all of our problems together as humanity broadly. And for people who we want to work with that we're not the solution. We're there to help and be a service.


Jan 03:56

I imagine it's sort of easy to fall into that trap of thinking that you're the answer. How do you avoid it? What would you recommend?


Jason 04:06

I think there are a couple principles to really think through. And Robert Greenleaf is a professor who's most well-known for writing about servant leadership. And the basic concept here is about your heart attitude in serving, and how you're positioning yourself with people. And you're responsible for how you position yourself with people. And I think the call to action for not having a Messiah Complex is to serve as a servant, to come along as a servant to be servant hearted, and specifically then in communities and culture where you're trying to help or make a difference. I think the key phrase I like to camp on is co-creation, where you don't come in and think you know, the answers to the problems. And in fact, it's hilarious and I've led so many trips abroad. I used to lead trips, structure trips all the time to Honduras. And then I've gone to Romania, multiple times leading trips and all over Africa. And you'll have people go, and you'll realize that they have not sorted this stuff out in their own mind, where they come in, and they think they actually know how to solve the problem in a place that they've been in for 30 minutes. You just, you know, as someone who's spent your life trying to work with, with people that make a difference in culture and society, you just have to almost laugh. But then you have to say to them, friend, you know, let's talk through how actually change can happen in this place. And it won't be because you had an idea sitting in Des Moines, Iowa, that you think is the revolution, and its attention, and people have to sort that out. Because they do say, Well, I'm educated, well, I know stuff. And yes, that's true. But the reality is, if change is going to happen in a culture, it's going to be because we are sacrificial in our service, and we co-create with people in that community solutions to problems that they understand incredibly well, that we do not understand, even minutely, and there's a beautiful synergy when that can happen. Where there is expertise and you know, kind of global ideas that maybe people in the West have, that people in a developing country haven't heard of. But the other side of that coin is that those folks have deep and profound knowledge about their culture, and society, about their climate, about the governmental situation, all of these layers of complicated factors that you just have nothing to say or understand about. And so the whole idea is co-creation. And I think a servant hearted attitude is really central.


Jan 06:51

Is there a scripture verse that comes to mind to to help us understand?


Jason 06:57

Yeah, I mean, it's a Christmas week as we're recording this. So, I've always loved John 3:16. And we all know it: For God so loved the world that He gave is a giver and gave his only son. But there's actually 1 John 3:16 is a beautiful passage as well, if you've never kind of read both of those together, it's actually really interesting. 1 John 3:16 says: This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need, but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us love not with words or speech, but with actions and truth. And I think that verse, If you just meditate on I think about it is such a vital idea related to how we can work together with people who were in humble circumstance or in challenging circumstance, like we find in Lusaka and in Zambia. And those two together, I come to my mind, but there are many verses that are that speak into this idea of sacrificial service and serving with an emphasis on love.


Jan 08:10

I never compared those two together. That's interesting. Why do you think having a Messiah Complex, whether you recognize you have it or not, why do you think that's a common issue?


Jason 08:23

I think we're all wired to have this. Our egoic needs need to be met. It's an ego thing. I think in a lot of ways, it's sort of a foundational issue. And we want to make a difference in the world. And rightly so. I mean, everybody should have that desire to make a difference. The question is, how do you do it? And what do you lean into, to make that a reality. And I think if you're not thoughtful and careful about it, you can lean into, you know, kind of having this I know, best mindset, and I'm going to be the problem solver, I'm gonna be the fixer, I'm going to be the one who, you know, is in charge and God's man with a plan, if you're from a Christian context, you can have this mindset just as much as somebody who doesn't have a faith background. And I think that's the root of it is sort of an ego. And so, we all need to check ourselves and ask the question, why are we serving? Is it out of true humility and God's calling our life to serve because of love? Or are we getting something out of it for ourselves, that we haven't really put our put our finger on?


Jan 09:31

Well, you sort of touched on this, but this brings a question to my mind about what is the difference, what is the thought process for a Christian aid worker versus somebody who's doing it from a secular point of view?


Jason 09:44

Yeah, yeah. You know, I think the truth of it is, is this is human nature issue and can be as equally whacked out for people who are believers as people who would say they don't have any faith background, but they're humanitarians. Or they're working to make a difference in the world, you know, because they have a desire to see change in the world. I think for believers, there are specific passages that speak to our call to serve with humility, and our call to check ourselves, and ultimately are called to point towards Christ as the answer. And to say, to anyone we work with, I'm here in Jesus’ name. And if you don't know about the amazing love that he's bestowed on us, let me share it when the time feels right. And we serve as a witness to his great love. And people who are who are humanitarians wouldn't ever have that point of view. What would they say? They would say, I'm here, because we're all, you know, part of the brotherhood of man or, you know, they'd say, some positive sentiment, like we, you know, we care about you. And that's just a different point of view. But I think, everyone who's working in the developing world, with communities in need, need to think through whether their mindset is sorted out, right, to the greatest extent possible.


Jan 11:11

What is the better mindset to have? What is your opinion here?


Jason 11:17

Yeah, you know, there are a few things that come to mind that I think allow the person who's trying to serve, to not get burned out, and to be in it for the long term, and to really get clear on their own motivations and interests. And I think one of those things is gratitude and understanding that God is at work in communities and in people's lives globally, in amazing ways, with or without, you know, that the truth is, is that He's working in powerful ways. And to observe that and to be grateful for that, I think is the first step. And then I think also, there's something development practitioners would call it an appreciative inquiry, but it's a approach where you ask the question, what is actually working well, here in this community, starting with an appreciation for the assets, the opportunities, the things that are positive. In any community, there's something that is positive, that is a starting point, for constructive work in people's lives. Whether it's food scarcity as a problem, or health issues or financial challenge, there's, there's always some positive thing to focus on. Those heart and mind, points of view, allow you to not abandon the work or give up in my view. Some people come in, and I've seen so many people come and come and go, they'll go with me to see work. And it's almost like their mind can't solve it. So, they leave. It's almost like I can't solve this. You're saying it's so complicated. Jason, you're saying, you know, this is such a huge need. I can't fix this with a seven-day trip, therefore, I'm out. And that's not the answer. So, I think the work is to understand how you're personally motivated, how you can be in it for the long term, and really come alongside dear saints, and brothers and sisters, and in hard circumstance with the right heart attitude. And, you know, gratitude and appreciation for what's there that's positive are, are good starting points. And then ultimately, of course, giving credit to the Lord and pointing to Christ.


Jan 13:33

You know, a while back, I did a podcast with one of our volunteers, Kathy Simonson. And that was such a heartfelt meaningful podcast to me. And from her podcast, we took a few sentences, because it really addresses this issue. And her comments are on our website on our volunteers’ page. But Kathy talked about what she liked about Sew Powerful was the recognition that the people in Zambia understood their assets and their culture and that Sew Powerful wasn't there to tell them how to solve their problems but to walk alongside. And Kathy uses that term, many times in her podcast, walk alongside, and I just heard you say it too. And it brought that to my mind.


Jason 14:27

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Right. There's a famous book in development work called Walking with the Poor, by Bryant Myers. He is a professor at Fuller. He used to be a development worker for World Vision. And it's a wonderful book. It's technical. So, it's pretty involved in terms of development, international relief and development work, but it gets the sentiment right, right up front, you know, and those elements are really important. And so yeah, I think this is exciting to think about, and I would just encourage anyone who's listening, who's part of the Sew Powerful ministry, to think about these things. And to figure out, you know how we can approach the work together with the heart attitude that everyone would say, is spot on. And I mean, everyone from the Lord, looking down, to critics of this kind of efforts, to our friends and family, that everyone would say, Man, you guys have it sorted out. And that's all we can do is do our best to really have thought through these things and make sure that we're clear. And we're doing work effectively, that is really constructive and positive without unintended consequences or downsides that we haven't thought through.


Jan 15:40

Jason, thank you for talking with me this morning about the Messiah Complex. It's been very enlightening, and it really makes me stop and think and I think self-examination is always an important part of anyone's journey. So that this has been great. Thank you.


Jason 15:58

Thank you so much.


Jan 15:59

All right.


Jason 16:00



Jan 16:00

I'll talk to you soon. Bye. Bye.


Jason 16:02

Okay, bye bye.


Jan 16:03

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference. I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns, or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Why Sew Powerful is an All-Volunteer Organization with Jason Miles

Jason Miles, Sew Powerful co-founder and Jan Cancila, Sew Powerful Director of Global Volunteerism explore what it means for Sew Powerful to be an all-volunteer organization. Jason leads us through scripture to understand how 'tent-making' supports this model while Jan points out how volunteering has touched her life and the lives of others in the organization. The conversation includes examples of how God has prepared us with talents and vocational experiences that we can bring to the ministry. Are you a retiree looking for ways to apply your experiences that will really make a difference? We would love to hear from you.


Sew Powerful volunteers, Apostle Paul, tent making, low overhead, baby-boomers, retirees, vocational experiences, Mother Theresa, vow of poverty, unpaid staff, Zambia, purse makers, The Coca-Cola Company, Boeing


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Acts 17, 18, 19, 20; Romans 1; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4

Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:19

Hello, Jason, how are you today?


Jason Miles, Guest 00:21

Great, how are you?


Jan 00:22

Today we are going to talk about volunteerism. And this is a subject near and dear to my heart. I serve as the Director of Global Volunteerism for Sew Powerful and implement the the vision and the model that we've set out here for Sew Powerful. So, I'd really like to break that down and have our listeners understand what the Sew Powerful volunteer model is all about. We are an all-volunteer organization. There are no paid staff in the US. Is that correct?


Jason 00:56

That's right. Yep.


Jan 00:57

Yeah. So tell us why do we have this model? Isn't that different than a lot of Christian ministries and NGOs?


Jason 01:04

Yeah, yeah, it really is. And I think the more we've grown as an organization, the more we become comfortable with our weirdness. This unique model we're working in, it's sort of not popular to be candid. But we love it. And it's definitely God's call on our life. And I think it's an expression of ministry that is sort of different than many big charities or just charities. And it is important for our donors and our volunteers to understand sort of the differences between what we do and what other charities typically do. Yeah.


Jan 01:37

So we have a very low overhead. There are a little teeny bit of expenses that come out of the donations, but what, can you tell us, you know, what are those numbers?


Jason 01:49

Yeah, sure. Yeah, our overhead rate, this last formal reporting period, was 2.9%. of our total program.


Jan 02:00

As a point of reference, how does that compare?


Jason 02:02

Yeah, most charities would operate within probably on the most frugal, and what you might call financially structured, sophisticated charities, maybe as low as 12%. Now, there are some charities that have a massive food commodity programs that don't receive cash and don't spend cash because they have massive food grants that they count as is a donation. And those sometimes have really low like maybe 4% overhead rates. But generally speaking, it's 12 to 18% would be very, very good. Many charities operate with 18 to 25% overhead rate. And you can go look at any charities 990 now legally. They document the results. You can look at the first page and just look at salary administration line. I don't remember the line item on the 990. But it's on the first page. And you can look at that compared to the top total income and just do the math. And a lot of charities do shenanigans to kind of obfuscate or hide those numbers to be blunt. And I I have a graduate degree in international nonprofit management. It is technically an MBA, but with the emphasis is international nonprofit management. And I worked in nonprofit as a paid employee for 20 years, or longer than that actually. I was the Human Resources Senior VP for years and was a longtime HR guy and a longtime fundraising guy. So, I understand models from normal charities that employ people. And the employment of staff in the US is generally overhead if you're an international nonprofit. And generally speaking, that's the largest line item in your administrative costs. So when God really tapped us on the shoulder and said, You're supposed to help these ladies in Ngombe compound, it was Cinnamon and I just doing it out of our checkbook for the first six months. And then we started thinking through how could we set it up as a charity. And for the first four years, we were just doing it by ourselves with an occasional donation. We didn't have any team members, we didn't have any volunteers or paid staff; it was just us. But as we started to get to the point where we wanted to grow, we really started to lean into our own personal conviction and calling to be volunteers for the organization, we consider ourselves tentmakers


Jan 04:23

Wait, you've used that term a lot. And I'm going to ask you to explain it so


Jason 04:26



Jan 04:27

Go on, but hold that thought.


Jason 04:28

Yeah. So you know, as we just started to say to people who wanted to help us and Leslie Unruh locally, here was our first volunteer. She was a longtime Boeing employee at like 32 years or something like that. And she reached out and said, I love your program. I make purses. I would like to become a volunteer. I'm retiring from Boeing. And I said to her, we don't have volunteers. Like, I didn't know what to do with that inquiry because neither were we a paid staff organization or even a volunteer organization. We were just the fundraisers, and program coordinators helping with this work in Zambia. And so, you know, I said to her, why don't we meet up and chat about what you would like to do. And she became our first volunteer. And she's now the Regional Coordinator for the greater Seattle area, and


Jan 05:17

No, for the state of Washington.


Jason 05:18

Oh, state. Yes. Okay. Sorry. Yeah. And so, she was the first and she helped us sort out what what are you going to do, and I realized immediately this is God's leading. This is the the way we're supposed to grow is through asking people to volunteer their time. Now, as it happens, I also believe that there's a huge opportunity with recent retirees, and the baby boom wave of retirees, and so many people, Jan, yourself included, just has splendid vocational careers, and have these backgrounds of doing amazing things. And then now retired. So, I mean, you could speak to that from your own perspective. But as I was seeing it, I was thinking to myself, is this God's leading for us to work with people as volunteers, rather than paid staff in the US? And, and see if we can't build a program that does have exceedingly low overhead. And that's what we're doing.


Jan 06:18

Well, and you know, you alluded to we baby boomers, but sometimes we get a bad rap for being baby boomers. But there's a lot of us.


Jason 06:26



Jan 06:26

And we've asked our volunteers to take a survey, and we ask about their career experience. And we have people with amazing backgrounds through education and work and other hobbies or other places, they may have volunteered. And, you know, many people are attracted to Sew Powerful at first, because they know how to sew, they can make a purse. It's a very, it's a very fulfilling way to volunteer. But this ministry has many, many wheels turning and could use a lot of hands doing many things. Is that right?


Jason 07:06

Absolutely. We need a lot of help. I mean, you know, as we started to scale, you realize, Oh, man, I mean, this is this is getting big and real. And we need a ton of volunteers to step in. We need people to use their skill sets or vocational skill sets to come and help us grow this ministry. Yeah,


Jan 07:25

right. Well, and so we have a lot of retired teachers, and they obviously know about training. And you know, we could be training each other or training staff there in Zambia. But we have people with administrative skills, legal skills, logistics, purchasing, and marketing, web development. I mean, you know, the list just goes on and on. And we have few people wearing many hats, it would be fantastic. We could really scale if we had many people wearing those many hats.


Jason 07:58

And we are. We do have people helping us in countries around the world as purse collectors. And we have 1000 purses from the UK this year come in. And Sandy's our purse collector there. And we have purse collectors in Brazil and Australia and Canada. And so, people around the world are stepping in. The question is in a how do they help and participate in purse making it easy on ramp, but we hope it's not the end of the road?


Jan 08:24

Right? Right. Right.


Jason 08:25

You know, we would love to have people step into further use of their vocational skills and ministry work. Yeah.


Jan 08:32

Well, and you know, you can you can do both. So that's, that's fantastic. You mentioned a moment ago, tent making, and you've used the term before. Could you explain that to us, please?


Jan 08:43

Sure. It comes from the phrase from the Apostle Paul, in Acts. You could start reading in chapter 17, and 18 to 19 and 20. And in chapter 20, he really distinguishes the model of ministry that he set up, which is he has a marketplace, vocational trade skill, tent making, literally making real tents. And he used that vocation to fund his ministry and his ministry is defined by him in Romans 1, which is he was an apostle. So, he had two things, he was juggling: this tent making business which he defines, at one point saying it also funds his coworkers, his colleagues in ministry. So, he had a business; I would assume he was the boss, given given who he was, but he had built a company in today's parlance, and it employed people and then they were all a ministry team together. And he did that specifically and he talks about it in different passages so that there was no burden financially on the young congregations that was starting to form. He did it so that he could be a model he says, for people in leadership, to serve without financial burden. You know, I started my career as a compensation analyst for World Vision. I was there for 16 years. I understand pay practices. I also am totally enamored with Mother Teresa's model of taking a vow of poverty. I'm not called to do that I'm pretty sure.


Jason 10:13



Jan 10:13

Just checking


Jason 10:15

consulted, consulted with Cinnamon, and we are not called to take a vow of poverty. But I love the ministry model that Mother Teresa did. You know, she was a schoolteacher. And she walked for 12 years past a local slum. And she prayed for it every morning and every evening. And then she just felt this conviction to go in. And she was a Catholic priest. And she asked the Vatican if she could serve in the slum, and they said, No. They said, Pray about it for a year and if you're still interested in the idea, come back a year later. She came back a year later and she said Can I serve in a slum? And they said, okay. So, she walked into that slum with five rupees, and a bar of soap. That was what she had. And she took a vow of poverty, to serve there. And the Missionaries of Charity, that group organization is about 4500 people now who are working under that system. And I'm just mesmerized by that. It's something that you have to say, is admirable, is beautiful, and their willingness to live amongst the poor, and to serve Jesus, because He is there, is powerful. And so, you know, I have all these ideas swirling in my mind. But when I saw the Apostle Paul's model, and I had my own reflections, I just asked the question, how should we do this ministry? And Cinnamon and I, as a separate issue, had started selling on eBay in 2007, 2008, and build an E-commerce company. So, by January 1, 2014, we were financially set with our E-commerce company, business, enough to live off of. I mean, you know, we're not rich or anything, but we've made our living from E-commerce. And that allows us to have our calling and ministry, in Sew Powerful be completely free to Sew Powerful financially. And that's the tentmaker model we've employed. So, it's two parts there's one is the vocational money, part of how you're making your living. The other is your ministry or calling. And that's it. That's what tent making is, in my view. And I would say that anyone who's volunteering for us who has a pension, or is you know, retiree, that's just you know, got their finances sorted out because of your long work life career. They are tent makers too, whether they think they are not, they have their their money sorted, and they have a ministry and calling. So, there you go. We need to start a movement to make tent making popular again, or something like that, because I do feel like it unlocks a lot of creative opportunities for us to minister without money, being the object. And Paul even says this in the New Testament. He says, I never wanted to be perceived as a peddler of this new way of this new gospel. And I you know, for me, I was a major gift fundraiser, I was in charge of this stuff at big charities, a university and a big nonprofit. And I don't want to be perceived as peddling poverty for my own gain. And it just, it just doesn't suit me it doesn't feel right, you know. And so, for me, this feels right. It feels right for me to show up every morning at 5am and work in E-commerce. And then switch into helping with Sew Powerful and running it, as well. And that's the passion of our heart and life and, and we believe God's calling people who are like minded to serve with us.


Jan 13:37

Well, and you know, we've heard from so many of our volunteers that that volunteering for Sew Powerful, they started doing it because they felt like they would be helping others. But they've been surprised by how much the volunteerism has meant to them and has changed their life. And I'm going to mention one of our volunteers, Shirley Utz, who many people knew. Shirley fought a long courageous battle with cancer and succumbed this week. And there are so many tributes to her because of her kindness, and we've all formed friendships through this and have role models and it's just been such a meaningful experience for me to know people and to have those kind of ideals played out every single day and it's just been the joy of my life. I expected to be retired maybe traveling a little bit and fooling around my little garden. I tried to grow tomato plants this year, and I think I got one, one tomato but you know, that's how I sort of envisioned it. And then I stumbled onto Sew Powerful and I feel so fulfilled personally as a gift to myself, but you know, I feel like it's so rewarding to be able to use my God given talents and skills. And I can sew purses, but I'll be honest with you, I'm not that great of a seamstress. And so I have to use the talents that that God has given me.


Jan 15:23

Well, and for those who haven't heard your backstory, how long were you, you know, at Coca-Cola doing project management?


Jan 15:30

25 years.


Jason 15:31

Yeah. So, you know, God had prepared you


Jan 15:36



Jason 15:36

in advance for the work that you're doing.


Jan 15:38



Jason 15:39

And to me, I'm just like, I mean, can you imagine, okay, wait, just think for a minute, if you were four or five years or six years earlier in your career, and here I was as a charity, and I said, I really need a super awesome project manager, somebody from a company that's like crazy awesome. Like, could we find a project manager of project managers and executive in it from like Coca-Cola? How much would I have to pay? And how can I get that person to even care about my tiny little ministry in Zambia, and it never would have happened. And here we are, because God's leading and unlocking of this idea of tent making, where we, we set the money apart. Just forget about the financial related stuff, and just say, what is God called us to do? How can we work together for His kingdom and His glory? And there you are, with this amazing skill set now leading globally, all the volunteers around the world for us. And to me, that's just a God story. It's amazing, you know.


Jan 16:37

Yeah, I felt like if this was like, the logical next step, so


Jason 16:41

and realize I could never work with you in a million years, if it was a paid transactional thing. I could, we couldn't have ever afford to do it. But you wouldn't if you were so far outside our stratosphere. You know what I'm saying on that side of it. It's just


Jan 16:54

But not, not just not not just me. I mean, there's many, many people. And you know, I've had the opportunity to interview a lot of our volunteers and the backstories are just amazing. And I interviewed one of our chapter leaders' daughters. Her name is Katherine Winchell is the person I interviewed. And she was doing a fundraiser and the proceeds going to Sew Powerful. And in the interview, I casually said in what is your career when you're not doing volunteer work? She operates the camera on the land rover on Mars. I mean, they're amazing people that are in our stratosphere.


Jason 17:33

That is outrageous.


Jason 17:34



Jan 17:35

Yeah. So anyway,


Jan 17:37

I want to mention a few verses and Bible passages.


Jan 17:39



Jan 17:40

for people to, to look at as well, if they're interested in thinking through these ideas. I yeah, I mentioned Acts 17, 18 and 19, 20, related to the marketplace, ministries of Paul, and the tent making. Also, I'll just point out as a sort of side commentary, my personal life's mission is defined by Acts 17:6. That's a whole different story that will take more time to tell but remind me that in a future episode, I'll talk about that but, but there are other chapters and passages in the New Testament that are really exciting to think about: Romans chapter 12, Present your bodies a living sacrifice. First Corinthians chapter 12 is talking about the different types of gifts that Christ gives to the body. Romans chapter 1 talks about Paul's personal calling, and clarity on that, and on and on Ephesians 4. So, these passages talk about people being called to serve in the body. And I'm just passionate about seeing that play out in, in Sew Powerful in our ministry and program. Yeah.


Jan 18:43

Well, Jason, thank you so much for talking about volunteerism with me as a subject near and dear to my heart and to yours, too. I know. So. Thank you so much and have a fantastic day.


Jason 18:54

Thanks, Jan.


Jan 18:55

All right. We'll talk to you soon. Bye. Bye.


Jason 18:57



Jan 18:58

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Tikondane Gardens in Zambia with Jason Miles

Let us love one another. From the name, to the operation, to those it helps, the Tikondane Garden Program exemplifies the message of 1 John 4:7: to love one another. In this episode we break down the origin of the program, how it works, who is helped and who are the helpers. Learn why some residents of Lusaka were wary to participate but have certainly changed their minds as the gardens have flourished. The Tikondane Garden program is another way Sew Powerful provides opportunities for those living in extreme poverty to change the trajectory of their lives.


Ngombe compound, Zambia, 3 Esthers Farm, food insecurity, feeding hungry kids, after school jobs, part time jobs for boys, small gardens, greens, water supplies from wells and cisterns


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

1 John 4:7

Tikondane Blog post,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Hello, Sew Powerful podcast listeners. Today we continue our series, Jesus and the Poor, with Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles. And today we're going to talk about the Tikondane Garden Program in Zambia. Welcome, Jason, how are you today?


Jason Miles, Guest 00:38

I'm great. How are you doing?


Jan 00:40

Oh, I'm doing fantastic. I am so excited to talk about this new program that Sew Powerful is sponsoring and Zambia. What's the name of it? Tell us a little bit about it.


Jason 00:51

Yep. It's called the Tikondane Gardens program or project. We keep vacillating between project or program. So, whatever. But Tikondane. We just thought,Tikondane, and that's the name of it. And I'm happy to describe the details and the origin of it, how it's growing and, and blessing the community there. And we're just so excited about the journey that we've kind of created in the lives of community members and, and kids as well. So yeah.


Jan 01:14

Okay, so let's start out with a name. I want to make sure I'm saying it right. Tikondane.


Jason 01:19



Jan 01:20

Okay, and what is that word? And what language is it? And what does it mean?


Jason 01:24

Sure. Yeah. So well, sort of the origin story as we have a program, which we'll describe momentarily, but we needed a name for it. And so, Esther, our program director there, and I started bantering around names. And I would come up with names that were just horrible, you know, like, The Banana Gang, or the Banana Program. And and she was like, No, that's not too good. And then I said, Well, you guys just talk as a group and figure out what might make sense. And I said something like, maybe it would be something that would make sense in the community, like the community would really appreciate it; not some dumb name from me. And so, she came back and she said, we like to call it Tikondane Gardens. And I was like, Okay, what does that mean? She said, in Nyanja, the local language Tikondone means, let us love one another. And I was like, home run! That's perfect. It's beautiful. So, in Nyanja, locally, it means let us love one another. It's a reference to 1st John 4:7: And dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. And I was just like, Ah, you guys, this is beautiful. I love it. It's a fun name to say. It's beautiful sentiment. And so that's kind of where the name came from.


Jan 02:43

Well, and you know, I think you had to ask a few of us to suggest names too. And we were trying to come up with real, real trendy names.


Jason 02:52

I forgot about that.


Jan 02:53



Jason 02:53

Did you come up with any bad ones, too? Like I did? I don't even know


Jan 02:56

I think it was like, you know, Farm to Table or something. You know, that's a cool name in the US right now. And I'm sure that would have meant absolutely nothing locally there. So yeah, home run, Tikondane. I love that. Okay, we have the name. What was the objective of the program?


Jason 03:13

Yeah, so it goes back to the work of the 3 Esthers Farm. And we've tried our best since 2015 when we got the property, a 10-acre farm, to use it for feeding hungry kids. That's the mission and stated purpose of the farm. That's all we do is focus on how do we feed kids. Well, one of the big challenges is, you know, the farm is, you know, 25 minutes away or so from the primary school we work at. And the kids, as we've talked about prior conversations are, you know, just desperate for food at their household level and come to school hungry, literally, you know, bellies, you know, growling and all. And the challenges what food exists in the community, right in Ngombe compound, which is an intense urban slum. And so little houses, you know, maybe 300, 400 square foot little, kind of Adobe mud houses, little courtyards, but just packed together tightly and, and so the challenge is, you know, food security and food production. And so, I sort of had this dream years ago that could we create a program where food would be grown locally in Ngombe. And we've debated the merits of that idea for a couple years to be honest, back and forth. Is it possible is it not? And the trigger point for Tikondane was actually it started on the farm with suckers. And the suckers are from the banana trees. We have a banana orchard and if you know about banana trees, they at their base, put off these little baby banana plans and to keep your orchard clean and tidy, you just peel those off and if you're growing your fields or your orchard, you would replant them and grow them up as new trees. But you would discard them if you were just keeping your orchard clean and organized. But every time you peel off one of those babies when we were doing that, I was just thinking, man, that's a new banana tree that could be feeding hungry kids. And so, I asked the question, What can we do with those banana suckers? And can we possibly get them into the backyards or the courtyards or houses of community members? And, and for various reasons, mainly, their water intensive plants, that is probably not going to happen. But we're still optimistic it might. But what it did spur was the idea that maybe we can do other plants. So, Esther had meetings with the community and started to ask the questions. Could we do this idea of having courtyard gardens? But the other element of this that we were really passionate about was that the farm really doesn't employ that many people. It's, you know, just three people, and then their kids and spouses out there helping them sometimes, but it's just not an employment, kind of intensive thing. And that's really our passion is is local employment, local jobs. So, what we started talking about was, could we weave together this idea of these courtyard gardens with another desire of ours, which is employment opportunities for after school, or for the older kids, the high schoolers who need money and need vocational training? And could we kind of weave it together in such a way that we have this program where the boys, they are all boys that at the moment, but that could be girls going forward too, they get the opportunity to have responsibility for some yards and courtyards that they would be going and visiting. And so, this is the way it's swirled together. So, the community there, man, they talked about what plants would be possible how it could work. And it really had the makings of an interesting program. So, we, we prototyped it or modeled it this last year with one, one key kid named Chris, and then two others, so that we started with three, and then we've grown it to five now, and it really excited to see it grow to 10, soon, and it's going to be an ongoing program.


Jan 07:07

Well, you know, one of the things that I liked about it, you know, we're helping girls stay in school. I think everybody was saying, well, what about the boys? And so, I know, these are older young men, more like high school age here in the west. So, I'm excited to have an opportunity for them too, because obviously, they're part of the community and part of the future. So that was really exciting to me. So how did you find Chris, do you know? And what was his reaction when you invited him into the program?


Jason 07:40

Yeah, you know, it's one of those situations where Esther has run the Needs Care School since 2003. And so, she has 1400 kids at that school. Every year, there's no shortage of Chrises. And there's just so many kids who just don't go past seventh grade. They're there in the community. They just, you know, hanging out, they don't have a vocational plan or anything like that. And her heart breaks for those kids. And all of ours do, and their dreams fizzle. And they settle. And they just start hanging out in the community. And so, her passion was to figure out how to help them. And so, when she started working with Chris, and the other three, as a group initially, one of the things we were interested in was how the program would work. So technically, what they do is they each visit 10 households, and they go in the morning, and they go in the evening, and they initially do the ground prep work and the planting. They work with the family members, and they explain the process. And they learn this process from an Ag teacher who we got to help them. And so they're as a group, currently, they're serving 50 households. On average, those households have nine members in the house. And when we, we started giving them a small stipend mean, it's an after-school job for you know, for a high schooler, but it's money. And we were really curious to know what they would do with the money and kind of what it would mean for their life. Well, it didn't take more than like a month or two for us to realize they all just are going back to school. It has enabled them to have the uniform, and the books and get clarity on where they can go. And Esther of course, you know, is excited to see them reenroll in secondary school. So, you you know, they're not necessarily young kids. I mean, one of them, I think, is 22. But they've all stopped at seventh grade. And so, this is not only unlocked a vocational skill, it's also given them the money to actually just continue on in their formal education and we're just so excited about it. At that level, it's really, really helping them. And I grew up as a substitute paper route, paper thrower. I had Wade Ramsey down the street from he had the good paper route, and when he would be sick or go on vacation, I was his substitute. And I remember getting the money from that. And you know, this is in the 80s or you know, you're riding around on your, your BMX bike, and you're throwing the papers at five in the morning. And that didn't hurt me at all. Now it's helpful. And I wanted the money. And in a way, this is sort of a throwback to that kind of program where they have a route they go on every day. And they have some responsibility, and they get some money, and they're helping their community, which is just a beautiful part of the program.


Jan 10:23

So, what is the obligation or the role that the family plays in all of this? If I have a garden in my courtyard, what do I do?


Jason 10:31

Yeah, it's actually really interesting how it's played out in the community itself. The first few houses that we did during the pilot phase, were just seamstresses and, you know, some of the teachers like they were, you know, kind of the, the people in our program so that they knew what we were doing. But when we've expanded now, to the additional households, we we went straight to community members. Well, some of the feedback they heard was, you're trying to steal our property; this is some kind of scheme to kick us off our land; they are trying to create some kind of ownership or something. And then one story was lady said, we think you're witches. And this is witchcraft, and you're going to curse us or something. So, we don't want any of this on our property. And I don't know, maybe their religious background. But Esther said to that community member, no worries at all. You know, we're not witches, and we're not trying to steal your properties. And so, we just didn't work with those people. But we worked with their neighbors who were willing. And then once the crops started producing, and they have been producing like, really, really well, which is such a shock. Those people have come back. The, the one lady who was concerned about us doing witchcraft came back and said, I see my neighbors have such beautiful gardens, could I get in this program? And so, part of the responsibilities just be a neighbor, let a kid come and work in your backyard. And then also, though, joint responsibility, you know, they're there all day long. So, it's one of the big concerns we were initially worried about was the security of people just coming and stealing all the food. And so, the households have responsibility as well. But it's really the young men who are leading the way in terms of how to do it, what to do, the seeds, the system, and all that and they're teaching the, the household so I wouldn't be surprised in you know, a year two or three, whether we don't move on in the households can actually maintain their courtyard gardens on their own. And we've taught them to be productive on their own little, tiny, you know, postage stamp sized courtyards.


Jan 12:32

That's fantastic. And so, have we had a harvest yet from any of the gardens?


Jason 12:37

Oh, yeah. Yeah, repeatedly. They're doing greens, and they're doing tomatoes. Tomatoes are harder, but greens are easy, cabbages and and they call it rape, which is like linseed oil plant, but they eat it, edible greens. And it's working. They're harvesting this stuff continuously now. I get videos all the time of the local household level gardens. They're cutting the greens; they're washing them; their prepping meals. So, it's just this constant flow from these these micro gardens, you know, from the 50 households now. So, the answer is yes, it's working really well.


Jan 13:11

So I have a question about how the gardens are watered. I assume most of the households don't have running water. How do they get water to the gardens?


Jason 13:20

Yeah, it's a great question. I've been sort of arm's length observer of the water system in Ngombe compound since 2009. So, the way in which water systems work there are originally I'm talking like 10, 15, 20 years ago, there were community cisterns, or wells. And those are polluted and gross and not healthy. And so, years ago, now, probably 6, 7, 8 years ago, now, there were community tap boreholes that were put in, that was clean water that was drilled far enough down for it to be clean, and they're managed. You actually have to pay money to use the community taps, you know, locally there, you have to come and bring a little bit of money, and there's a tap attendant. So, our program costs cover the watering costs. At first, we have money for the tap water. But what we've realized and what I've seen in videos as they're pulling water out of those old cisterns, which is really cool to me, I don't know why, but it just seems like you know, you this is kind of abandoned wells that are almost a safety hazard. But they had water that was just not drinkable, not potable water, but they are using them in these gardens. And so, to me, that's just I don't know, I love stuff like this, where it's like, what asset does the community have? Well, they've got these old cisterns. What are they used for nothing? Well, can they be used to make these micro gardens flourish? Actually, as it happens, they can. And so anyway, so that's kind of how it works.


Jan 14:46

Well, Jason, so how do you see this playing out in the future? Look in your crystal ball. What's going to happen here?


Jason 14:51

Well, we're going to add five more workers, kids, in January, so it's going to go to 10. And so, we'll be serving 100 households. So, we're doubling in January, that's next this next month, and serving 100 households with 10 Tikondane helpers, boys, workers, whatever you know, in the team members, makes you realize this is highly scalable. It is not expensive. It is not complicated. And so honestly, we could be serving hundreds and hundreds of households in the community in the next couple years. And it's a plan that does not seem like there's any barrier for us to implement. You know, we have donor funding, people have been so generous to give to the farm. This is a ministry of the 3 Esthers Farm, to be clear. And so, as people have donated to the farm, we've got the finances to scale this up, you know, in January. And beyond that as donors step up, and we tell the story more, and we see the impact., we'd love to see it grow. Can you imagine if we had 2, 3, 400 kids in the after-school program making money to stay in school and blessing their community? How cool is that?


Jan 16:04

Yeah. Well, and you know, we talked last week, when we talked about widows, we talked about them struggling every single day, how am I going to feed my household?


Jason 16:15



Jan 16:15

And if all they had to do was open their door and look in their garden, how amazing would that be?


Jason 16:22

It's one of those things where you just feel like the anointing of the Holy Spirit is on this stuff. This is not my idea. This is not my program scheme. This was this was just a set of questions and a desire to see on everybody's part, a desire to see the community helped. And these kids helped. And little by little, were piecing it together. And it it just makes you realize there is hope, in very desperate places. And there is opportunity for us to come alongside people who are making a difference in their own community. I've never been a part of this, you know, I'm not the one watering the plants at five in the morning. None of us here are. We're just helping facilitate. And so to me, that's the exciting part of it. And, and I would love nothing more than for us to say we're serving 6000 people through this program or some outrageously amazing number like that, because the reality is every single household is helping that mom who's trying to figure out how to feed those 7, 8, 9 kids in the household. Every single household is seeing the love of Christ. The program is named, Let us love one another. And so there you have it, that's the future and my hope is that we just grow in love and grace and in the skill sets needed to do this.


Jan 17:41

Any chance we could have a Tikondane t-shirt among our arsenal of t-shirts?


Jason 17:46

I think we need to make a logo. Yeah, I think we need to do a t-shirt for sure. Wouldn't that be fun? And people can buy the t shirt and tell the story and


Jan 17:52

Right. Yeah, because people will say what in the world is Tikondane? Yeah, that's fantastic. I know there's been some blog posts, and there's videos. So, if you want to learn more about our Tikondane program, I urge you to go to the Sew website. There's lots of information there that will really touch your heart to see the video of the kids working, read the blog about it. And, of course, donations are always welcome. There's a Donate menu option right there at the top of the page.


Jan 18:24

So thank you so much for your time today and we will talk to you soon. Next week, we're going to be talking about volunteers. So, another interesting topic. Thank you.


Jason 18:34

Thanks, Jan.


Jan 18:35

Bye bye.


Jan 18:38

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


God's Heart for Widows with Jason Miles

The Sew Powerful ministry integrates opportunities for women in Zambia to earn a wage to feed their families, pay the rent and educate their children. In many cases, these women are widows or de-facto widows, serving as the head of their households while living in very challenging conditions. This is how we often think of this ministry serving widows. But around the world, Sew Powerful also serves our volunteer purse makers, some of whom may also be widows, by providing a spiritual, creative, and service outlet to serve, just as God has prepared us.


widows, single moms, donors, Zambia, podcasts, William Carey, widow burning, purse makers, Ngombe compound, Lusaka, Sew Powerful, education, hope


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

William Carey,

Mathew 19:25


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Hello, Sew Powerful Podcast listeners, we are continuing our series, Jesus and the Poor, with Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles. A couple of weeks ago, we talked about orphans. Today we're going to talk about widows and how Sew Powerful supports widows in not only the Ngombe compound, but as we expand further into Zambia, so we're going to get to that in just a moment. But Jason, how are you today?


Jason Miles, Guest 00:48

I'm doing well. How are you?


Jan 00:50

Oh, I'm fantastic. Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?


Jason 00:52

Yeah. Great time. And you?


Jan 00:55

Yeah, great, great time. Saw family and every other Thanksgiving, we make a trip to St. Louis in Kansas City and see all the siblings. So, we cram a lot of sibling visits in one long weekend. So anyway, yeah, so we're back here.


Jan 01:11

You know, in prior episodes, we talked about the origin of the Sew Powerful program, way back in 2009 and the HIV AIDS pandemic. How does how does all of that connect to our topic today with widows?


Jason 01:29

Yeah. The community of Ngombe compound in many urban neighborhoods, urban slums, in challenging places, like Lusaka, is a community built on really, Mom-led households, and grandma-led households. And if you go and do house to house visits, and walk through the neighborhoods and meet the people, who you're meeting as the matriarchs, who have a whole group of kids, and grandkids frequently in their house. And so, when we started working in March 2009, we were working with a group of moms, you know, eight, nine moms that had come together to try to make a difference in their school. And that's the context in which we work. The reasons are many, but you know, frequently, HIV AIDS, TB malaria has, at that point had just devastated people physically, but also there's, you know, divorce and abandonment and challenges of desperate poverty, a lot of early marriage that ends sadly, a lot of young girls married really older guys, and that ends tragically. So, you're in the mix relationally of a very, very challenging context. And many people that we're working with are widows and, and or single single moms and grandmas. And so that's sort of the context in which we operate. Yeah.


Jan 02:51

What does that look like in terms of numbers?


Jason 02:56

You know, I asked Esther, that question, and we don't have a hard count in terms of, you know, what specific number of widows we work with. But I asked her just as percentages what she thought in terms of the total beneficiaries that we work with, through the sewing uncooperative, soap cooperative, you know, the parents of the school, the Tikandone garden project, and her commentary was about 35% are widows. And then 35% are single moms through divorce. So that's 70% of the people we work with. And then she said, from there, another 15% are single moms, you know, due to what she would call poverty. And what that generally means is, the mom will, in essence, be alone and will be technically married. But the husband might work in the Copperbelt, somewhere far away, or, you know, works or maybe he's in the village, and she's in the town, you know, in Ngombe in the slum there, and they're just separated that way. And so, she said, if she had to guess, about 7%, of who they work with, are actually married, like, you know, have a spouse there. And the rest find themselves in those circumstances of, you know, being being on their own. Yeah.


Jan 04:13

That sounds incredibly, incredibly challenged. And so, what is the impact of so many, I mean, basically, single moms, right, whether the widow divorce husband away, how does that impact the Ngombe compound in general?


Jason 04:29

Yeah, it creates a circumstance in which the head of the household is tasked with so many things, but one of the things is just physical provision of food and shelter, and it's all resting on the mom's shoulders. So, food is an exceptionally challenging; the rental amounts for the little homes that they'll live in, is incredibly challenging. And you know, if you've got a household and most of the time, the average would be like 9 to 11 people in the house. If you have a household with 9 to 11, either, you know, teenage to early 20s or 30s aged children, but you're the matriarch, and then you've got babies there. And you're tasked with the responsibility for all that, you know? What, what are you doing beyond that? I mean, can you have a job? Can you do anything other than just full time trying to keep that together? That's the the reality for them. And if you just think about that for a moment, and think what if that was your sister, or your mom, then you know, you you really realize the depth of the challenge that they're facing? Yeah.


Jan 05:37

Well, you know, I can sort of relate to that. My niece is the mother of a three-month-old baby, and she's on maternity leave, she has a job to go back to. But I mean, the stress and struggles she has of just trying to manage the husband, a baby, the job, and they're not worried about food, and they're not worried about paying the rent, and it's just everyday life. But you add all those stresses on top of it. I just, I just can't even imagine.


Jason 06:07

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's the reality. And it's the context in which God's called us to work. And so, then the question is, what do we do, you know,


Jan 06:17

Well, and so we work with donors and purse makers. And so, when we volunteer for Sew Powerful, how does that help the women living in poverty in Zambia?


Jason 06:27

Well, there's two sides of it, really. One side is the program work in Zambia, and how it's designed. And then the other part is ministry to the donors that we work with. And so, I'll describe both parts. The ministry on the ground in Zambia, you know, the circumstances in which we find ourselves is, many of those moms are not educated. So, they might have education through third grade, fourth grade, and so functionally illiterate. And then they've got this whole household full of, you know, kids they are responsible for. So, we've really tried to design our programs, so that they can work with us and integrate the opportunity to have a job, but also be, you know, responsible for the household. So a lot of our team members actually have their kids in the school during school time. The moms are working with us in our program. And so it kind of makes it a convenient way to say okay, the kids are okay for, you know, from early morning to midafternoon. And therefore, they can go over and be a part of the soap cooperative, sewing cooperative and make a living for their family. And that's the design of the program. We also have after school programming for adult literacy, that happens that they're a part of and, and we're passionate about that. So, we really tried to design a program on the ground with the intention of it working for them. So that's one piece. But the other piece is how we work with people around the world. Our donors are 99% women, a purse maker is at least a little broader when you talk about just financial donors and men are included in that a little more. But we have the opportunity to work in collaboration with them, with a lot of women around the world, and many of them are are widows. My mom is in that category. So, she's been on the podcast and told her story. I just have a particular passion for this idea, because what we've heard so often from the purse makers is that this is ministry to them. This is vision and hope and a calling for them. And you know, in the context of Ngombe compound, and the moms in Lusaka, the question is, what do they put in their hopes, and then they're passionate about their faith, but they also put their hope in their children's education. When you hear their stories, the moms there will say, if my kids can just get through school, it's my hope. That's their hope for a better life is their children. And so that's, that's kind of the context in which they have hope. But I think that donors around the world that we work with, in the purse makers, they also have a hope in their heart, and I think that hope in their heart is God has a purpose for them. God has a calling for them. There's a specific assignment that God has prepared for them that they could actually thrive in and do. And not only just do, but do with panache, you know, do with exceptionalism. And so that's what the purse program represents, I think for a lot of people. And it's a it's a frequent commentary that we hear. And I think it's really a central part of what we do and who we are.


Jan 09:26

You're making me cry, because that's exactly how I feel. And we're in the midst as we record this, we're in the midst of having a survey with our volunteers. And I've taken sort of a peek at some of the answers, and I mean, you really hit the nail on the head. That's how so many of us feel. And I know many of our volunteers are themselves widows and so to be a part of this community to serve others is just so rewarding and you just you just feel like you're serving God's purpose. And it's wonderful


Jason 10:03

Because you are. And it's not it's not a contrivance. It's not an abstraction like, oh, this sort of symbolically serving the Lord. It's literally clothing people and helping people with food. And the reusable hygiene pad product is just, it is just a miracle of the integration of people's individual work at their house around the world. Participating with the moms in Zambia, and literally, it's all going to the girls together. And I'm as passionate about donor involvement these days, as I am about the work on the ground, because I just have realized over time, people who were in the situation who were alone, and maybe feeling like they missed it, or that maybe they were felt called to Africa, but they never got there. This is an opportunity. And it really is exciting. So, I'm passionate about that. And I think we need to get better at it. I think we do okay, integrating donors from around the world. But I think we can even get better at it going forward. And I'm really excited about just hearing people's commentary that they feel that and they know that we're we're including them in the ministry in a powerful and meaningful way.


Jan 11:15

You know,I think back at a podcast I recorded with Millie McKerley, and I'm giving you a shout out Millie. And even this morning, she posted beautiful, beautiful purses that she has made and is sending in, that will be a blessing to a girl. But, you know, I asked her what she liked about being part of the program. And she said there were two parts to what she liked. She liked being able to use her creativity. But she liked the fact that she felt called by God to do this. And that that was the more important part to her. And, you know, it's just person after person who says that, and we may have gotten a little a little off topic here on on supporting widows here. But


Jason 11:57

No, it's not, though, in my view, because it's, I guess you could say spiritual support, psychological support, social support. You know, the widows, largely in the West, it's not always financial, that they need help with. Mm hmm. Whereas in Zambia, it's it's really a financial crush, a burden. But in the West, it's, you know that the purpose and the calling is the way in which we help work with them. And so there you go, yeah.


Jan 12:25

Well, and I think of again, I think the podcast with your mom, Barbara Stroup, and it was the 'Callings of Barbara Stroup.' And she has many callings, and she serves widows is one of her callings. And she herself is a widow. And that was a very moving podcast. And I really appreciated her being so open about that. And she was a single mom when you were growing up. And so, she's had her share of challenges. And yet, she's turned that around to serve others. And yeah, and it's just wonderful.


Jason 12:59

Yeah, I think as I reflected on these topics in my own life, and listening to her podcast, I think it's very common for boys to grow up with a single mom, that they'll either resent that mom over the long haul of their life, or they'll have a growing compassion, and just a, an admiration and respect in a sense that if the world was a better place, such things wouldn't happen. And you realize over time, that it's the, the love of Christ in us, that He's called us to such things. And, to me, that's really an important part of who we are, what we do is to say, we're caring for orphans. And we're caring for widows, because we have a passion for it. Because Christ had a passion for it, you know?


Jan 13:48

Well, and oftentimes widows are marginalized. They're alone. And what happens in the West, it happens in Zambia. It sort of happens all over. Why, why do you think that happens?


Jason 14:04

I wish I I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. But I know it happens. One of the most tragic widow related stories. I don't know if you've ever heard of this before, looked into it. But there was a long practice in India of widow burning, where… have you heard of this before, Jan, is this have you?


Jan 14:21

I don't think so.


Jason 14:22

So, from basically 500 to 1800, in India, there's widow burning, which was the widow would sacrificially jump onto or join the pyre of their husband who died. And it was a common cultural practice. And William Carey was a Baptist missionary who went in the early 1820s or something like that and started to count and document what was happening and advocate. And as it happens, he was a tentmaker, which I love William Carey for but also as it happens, he was just a wonderful person in terms of loving people. He hired many people who were local Hindu faith, people into his businesses. And he learned the language and translated many texts and including the Bible into local language. But he began to raise the issue of this widow burning practice and documented how often it occurred. And his advocacy directly led to that being changed culturally. If you go and look at the history of it, it's It's tragic, because they would do it as a symbolic thing that they were willing to do it themselves. So, it was sort of a rights thing, I guess. But just so sad. And so tragic in his heart was to say, you know, there's hope beyond the death of your husband. And so that whole story is, is very fascinating to look into. But, but the marginalization of widows does occur, you know, it was Gandhi, who said, actually, as it happens, 100 years after all of that work of William Carey, Gandhi said, the measure of any culture is how they treat their most vulnerable or something along that line. And I think that's, that's right. And so, the orphans and the widows being addressed is central to the culture and practice and society of any people. And I think as believers, we can lead the way and say, What does God demand? And, and really have a faith practice that says, we're going to do right.


Jan 16:31

As we think about this topic, what scripture verses or verse comes to mind.


Jason 16:40

The passage that stands out to me that is so striking, I mean, I think it's probably the most vibrant, emotional story in the whole Bible is Jesus on the cross. And when Jesus is on the cross, John, chapter 19, there's this wonderful passage that is verse 25. It's right after the soldiers literally divided up his clothing. And in verse 25, it says, near the cross stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So, these group of ladies were, were gathered around. And when Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved, which is John, the Evangelist, John, the Apostle, who's writing this, this is his story account, he was the only disciple that was there. So, this is, you know, the story of his situation, says, when Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple who meet loved standing nearby, He said to her, Woman, here's your son, and to the disciple, here's your mother. From that time on, the disciple took her into his home. So that's just the kind of foot of the cross, little story about this impending situation. Many people believe that Jesus's mother was widowed at that point, because Joseph is never mentioned in the gospels, really, after the birth of Christ. So, the assumption is that he had passed, but it's never stated directly. But there's this beautiful story, where in sort of this dying act, Jesus is deliberate about making sure his mother is cared for. And then if you read John's books, the John, the Gospel of John, of course, is full of references to knowing that we're believers because the love of Christ is in us. And then if you read 1st John, and 2nd John, 3rd John, if you read 1st John, the whole thing is structured around whether we are demonstrating love to others, as a reference to our love for Christ. And that's just the structure of his writing and his life. And so, to me, that story that that story, you know, Jesus on the cross is so central. And it's just such a beautiful part of Christian tradition, to care for orphans and widows. Then you go to the book of Acts, and they talk about the widows not being cared for properly, and somebody raising it to the attention. And, and we should talk about this whole story at some point. But, but in that story, in the book of Acts, all the disciples gathered together, including John, and they talk about the care for widows, and they appoint Steven, who is in essence tasked with this responsibility to care for widows. And that's a central part of the birth of the church. And so, there's just so much rich history there, and ideas related to those things. But anyway, that's the story that stands out to me the most.


Jan 19:40

Well, thank you very much. Jason, thank you so much for your time. This has been a wonderful discussion, and I look forward to talking with you next week, where we're going to talk about the Tikondane garden program in a lot more depth. Then we're going to maybe talk about some of those specific young men that are working the program and really get to personalize it and really understand what's going on there.


Jason 20:07

Thanks, Jan. Wonderful time.


Jan 20:08

Okay, thank you so much. We'll talk to you soon.


Jan 20:13

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference. I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns, or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


The 3 Esthers Farm Origin Story with Jason Miles

In this Thanksgiving episode Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles, recounts the origins of the 3 Esthers Farm: how the fallow land was converted into a farm that now grows vegetables and fruit, how the name came about, and how God sent caretakers to get the farm started. Jason also shares what daily life is like for children and families in the Ngombe compound when they have absolutely no food. The introduction of the Tikondane backyard gardens is one step towards bringing food to families but Jason also shares that he is working to unlock strategies to bring lunches into more schools in Ngombe compound.


Thanksgiving, 3 Esthers Farm, Tikondane, backyard micro gardens, feeding hungry children, nshima and greens, crops, cabbage, fruit orchard, David Derr, Ngombe compound, malnutrition


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: Jason Miles


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Mathew 25:31-36


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Happy Thanksgiving, Jason.


Jason Miles, Guest 00:22

All right, yes. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.


Jan 00:26

So how are you in the family going to be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?


Jason 00:30

Well, we've got our baby daughter home from Azusa Pacific for Thanksgiving this year. And we also have my mom who's flown up from California to spend Thanksgiving with us. So that's really fun. We'll have a wonderful time. Of course, the puppy is keeping us all crazy at this point, but I'm sure we'll try to figure out how to include her in Thanksgiving as well. So


Jan 00:51

We all have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. In today's episode, we are going to be talking about the 3 Esther's Farm. And you know, about a year ago in Episode 23, we spoke with David Derr, who is the co-founder of the 3 Esther's Farm and got his perspective, I should say, from how it was all founded how that all came about, and the adoption of his children, which led to knowledge about the property and and how he ran into you. I spoiler alert, I don't want to give anything away.


Jason 01:25



Jan 01:25

But today, we're going to hear it from your point of view. So, I'm really interested to hear this. And the other thing is so much has happened in the last year since we recorded the episode with David, and we have big plans for the future. And I want to hear about that, too. So, let's start at the beginning. How did the farm come about? Tell us that story.


Jason 01:45

Sure. Yeah, I think the pre-story on my side from really the first encounter with the moms, and the small group there in Ngombe, in March 2009 was really about helping them make a difference in the lives of their children. And in the context of the school, they were trying to build a school building, or raise money for one they hoped. But the school itself was a real challenge. At that time, they had 475 kids. They didn't have the funding for any kind of food program, daily meals. These are street kids, and then they're kids just that, that come with the clothes on their back, and they show up every morning hungry and unfed from home. And the moms there had to cope with that reality. And that was immediately visible to us. And we were aware of that from day one of the first interaction. And, you know, going forward from then, until we met David, we really had this, I guess you could say shared burden. And just an intensity of just a desire to see something happen. These these kids come from households that do not have any food in the house. And I'm not saying they don't have much food. I'm saying they literally if you go into their house, there is no cupboard full of food; there is nothing there. They'll live mostly on families will live on one meal a day in their household if the mom or dad or caretaker or granny or whoever has figured that that out for that day. It is literally a day by day. And so, this is the intensity of the situation. And so, you can imagine being a mom and teacher responsible for 475 kids that are all coming there with literally starving bellies. Now in traditionally in Africa, you'll know that the kids are malnourished when their hair is like a rust reddish color. And you'll see kids who are clinically malnourished. And you'll know that that's a sign of it. And so, this is the context in which trying to figure out how to have food for these kids was so, so important. And so that was sort of the backstory. And then then when we met David, things began to change.


Jan 04:01

Now, did you know David before you ran into him? You did.


Jason 04:07

I did. We were colleagues at World Vision. I was there for 16 years; he still works there today. I left in 2010. And him and I were coworkers. As in any large organization, you kind of know people from projects or meetings or whatever. And we were never really in the same team or department or anything, but we knew of each other, and we'd work together on a few different things. His primary role back in those days was related to the shipping containers and the gift in kind donations of of, you know, physical products, and that whole system and I was on the human resources and then for a long time on the fundraising major gift fundraising side. But yeah, we did know each other from that context.


Jan 04:47

Okay, so there was a meeting in 2000 I believe it was 2015. Is that correct?


Jason 04:53



Jan 04:54

And so, you know, he told us there was a meeting but how did the meeting come about? Did you contact World Vision? Did they call you? What was going on there?


Jason 05:03

Sure. It that's actually a great question. And it's just neat to see how it weaves together with the purse programming work. We, we had done the original Sew Powerful purse project in 2014, and had the purses and, and World Vision was gracious to say to us, they would ship them to Zambia for us. And so, at that year was 503 purses. So, is I don't know, what, four boxes or something like that? I think now we have 150 in each box. So, you know, just a few boxes that needed to go. So, they they offered to ship them. And then we were in our second cycle of doing the purses, I believe in that shipment going where it was the second year, I think was 1600 that we were kind of this process where we knew we had like tripled or something like that. I think that was sort of the timeframe where World Vision had been gracious to us. And they also were trying to understand what we were doing. And so, one of our board members, Dana Buck was real people connector, and he's just he's a good, you know, networker. And so, he had talked to people that he worked with there at World Vision and said, This purse program, employing these moms, to make reasonable hygiene pads, and address this issue of menstrual hygiene management and this issue of girls staying home is really important work. And you folks, you know, he kind of you know, pointed his finger to you folks at World Vision who care about such things, water and sanitation, and hygiene, and you know, that kind of thing should come in here what we're doing here in Zambia. And so, he set up a meeting and asked me to come and speak about our program and how we were employing moms. They're making use of hygiene pads and that we had donors involved by making purses. And they just wanted me to come and tell stories. So, I got in the room. And there was probably 10 or 12, director level people. I mean, I was like, What in the world? So, I, you know, kind of was a little bit like, Okay, I know most of these people, but not all of them. But that was the meeting that David wandered into. And from his telling of the story, he really had no reason to be there directly. But he really felt strongly prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to this meeting, just get to that meeting. And from his point of view is almost this like this, you know, this Jesus thing in his daily life at work, which is really interesting to me. And I'm just like, wow.


Jan 07:30

And well you know, yeah, from his point of view is he was like looking at his calendar saying, I'm too busy for this. I can't do this. Yeah, But I'm gonna do it. Yeah. So that that's very cool. Okay, so you, you have your talk. And after the meeting, David comes up to you, and what does he tell you?


Jason 07:46

Yeah, it was just me focused 100% on the purse program, the reusable hygiene pads, you know, the issues of the girls skipping school. And that was a whole context, the entire meeting. But in the meeting, I did say at some point, these moms are passionate about these kids in this community school, having a building, getting fed, getting through their education. And so that was what you know, that was the only commentary made about, you know, you know, lunches or anything like that. And so then he came up after and he said, You know, it's might be funny, but I actually have a 10 acre farm plot right outside of Lusaka in Chingola. And if you'd ever see your way to needing it for use to help the school there, you know, let me know, I'd be open to that. it's not being used for anything right now. And I, you know, I thanked him, and we chatted, and then I just left and the whole way home, I just kept thinking, how could we use that farm property and I talked to Esther about it and the rest is history. I mean, she was like, Yes, please, let's do this. Let's go, you know. So that was it.


Jan 08:53

Oh, that's amazing. And so, the farm is called the 3 Esther's Farm. What's the origin of that name? Why did you pick that name?


Jason 09:01

Well, it was it was a fun process of making the name. And it was sort of a little bit of naming by committee. We we wanted a name for the farm. And we wanted to have symbolic meaning and importance. And so, we brainstormed a lot of ideas. And then one of the, one of the biblical narratives or stories that somebody mentioned in the conversation was, it's just such a God thing, that this farm is here for such a time as this. And that's a reference to a story of Esther, in the Bible where she was prepared for 'such a time as this', is where that phrase comes from. And so that's an Esther. And then as it happens, somebody made the comment. Well, that's Esther from the Bible. And we have our program director in Zambia is Esther M'Kandawire. And we had two Esthers and then David said, my daughter's name is Esther, the daughter he adopted from Zambia. And so, we said, well, we've got three Esthers here. So, what if it is the 3 Esthers Farm, and we've got a daughter of Zambian in Esther Derr and we've got Esther M'Kandawire, our program director, and really, you know, a mom and leader there. And then we've got Esther from the Bible. And so there you go. So that's the story. It's turned into a fun little name.


Jan 10:14

Well, and you know, now it just rolls off our tongue. I mean, it's just such a great name. And, you know, I'm not sure everybody knows who the three Esthers are but that's great. That's fantastic. So, you know, in the last couple of weeks, we've been talking about some various topics, one of which was the impact of local hiring, and how does the 3 Esther's Farm fit into that philosophy?


Jason 10:39

It's a great question. You know, I've been thinking about this literally, since 2015. For the first 2, 3, 4 years of the farm, we were really just focused on building infrastructure. And we had an amazing, amazing founding story with our team members there. And this is a really fun part of the story to me as well. When Esther was told about this property, she had no idea where it was. I mean, she knew generally the region, but she drove out there one day. And it's, as you might imagine, a dirt road off the beaten path quite aways. And so, she drove up to where she thought it was, and a man walked up across the little dirt road from from the neighboring property, and he said, Are you lost? And she said, No, I said, I think this I think this land here is, is my land, you know, it's my property. And he kind of laughed and said, No, I don't think so. And so then he said, she said, Well, I'm Esther and this is the this is this property is owned by a man named David Derr, who has 10 acres here and, and the owner original owners farm is somewhere around. His name is Sandy. And then the man who was talking to her his name is Nicholas, he said, Oh, okay, yeah, Sandy's house is over there. And my property I work on is over here. I'm one of the farmhands. So, he basically from moment one, began to orient her to the location, the situation where it was in relation to other things, and just became an incredible help to her. He lived right across the road in a tiny little cinderblock house with a large family. I think it was eight or nine, depending on when his daughter and son in law live with him or didn't live with him in the house and their kids. And his wife, Lillian was there. And over the course of about six months, he just became a very, very helpful person. And when we started talking about the farm being ready to use, we had this our own caretaker house that we had built, and a well and, you know, gates and the property was cleaned off. And, and I said, Esther, who are you going to hire, you know, for the to be the caretaker, and she said, You know, I think I know, just the guy. And so, she talked to Nicholas and Lillian, and they became our first caretakers of the property and farmhands and really ran the farm for the first five years, six years. And their influence and help was critical. And that to us, that was a central part of the story, was like, Is God showing up in the midst of this with the people and the property and the mission? And the answer was, yes, He had prepared the way. And, and Lillian and Nicholas did a fantastic job for years and years and really made the farm established with their hard work. And so there's one piece the other piece, I would say is, the challenge of the farm is it's really not an intensive place for a lot of, you know, employment or labor. For the first, you know, 2, 3, 4 years, it was just the two of them. Now, in the current situation, we have three people working on the farm. But in this just last year, what we've started to do is integrate this Tikondane garden program as a ministry of the farm. And the core thesis there is we can employ local, young men, right in Ngombe compound to make backyard gardens. And as a ministry, the farm will also have these micro gardens. Currently five team members there, and they're helping 10 households each. So, 50 households have backyard gardens now, right in Ngombe compound and it's considered a ministry of the 3 Esthers farm. It's leading us into, I think, a dramatic era of growth in terms of employment, for impact. And that's one of the pieces I'm really excited about. Yeah.


Jan 14:31

What are some of the crops that are successful on the farm that I think you've maybe also incorporated into the Tikondane garden program, too, right?


Jason 14:41

Yeah, yeah, there's vegetable crops that do really, really well in Zambia. It's a great place for growing and temperate climate and there are multiple crops a year of veg product, as the British like to call it. And so cabbage is a big thing that we grow a lot of, onions, tomatoes, a vegetable they call rape. And it's canola, basically canola oil. If you're familiar with canola oil, the canola plant they call rape, they call it rapeseed oil, there, but it's, it's a green that you you can grow and eat. And then the seeds, you can, you know, do do pressed oil from. And so, vegetables have done really well they're for so we have a huge section of the garden, that's vegetables. We also have part of the garden that's been planted with maize repeatedly. And that was debatable as to whether maize would do okay there without a lot of fertilizer and special treatment. But it has done okay for us there. And then we have a large portion of the farm now that's dedicated to orchard product, the trees. Basically, bananas is a large, large section now, and then mango, papaya, avocado. And we're really excited about the orchard fruits, and the long-term value of having large, you know, outputs of fruit basically, that kids would eat and love, you know. And so there there's sort of the layout of it. Yeah.


Jan 16:01

Well, that's great. Well, and you know, I've read that there were some ups and downs in terms of getting the farm started. There was,


Jason 16:09



Jan 16:10

there were some plants that goats loved. And there was a storm that that wiped out the electrical power for a while and yeah, ups and downs. But it sounds like things are a lot more stable now.


Jason 16:22

Yeah, we've really, I think, gone through the phase of sort of initial starts and stops. You know, one whole crop was ruined one time by white flies. They ate everything. But we just didn't know that we needed to plant enough onions around the cabbage and tomatoes, because the white flies hate the onions. And so, so that, you know, just learning things. And but we had some great advisors really helped us speak into the strategy and process. And, you know, it took, it literally took over two years for the municipal power company in Zambia to turn power on at the farm property. So, the whole first two years, we were running off a generator. And so, you know, there's is challenges like that, but we feel like we've gotten through a good number of those. And we've got several wells on the property. Now we're our big project we're going to do soon as solar power, which will really help us be in essence, independent, you know, from the Zambian power grid, which we're really excited about as well.


Jan 17:21

Well, I do have one question. I've seen photos of the children. They were each given a cabbage. The cabbage is about the size of a basketball.


Jason 17:29

They're a huge, yeah,


Jan 17:30

More huge I know than anything I've ever seen in the grocery store. So, when they take those home, what kind of a meal does that prepare? How long would that last a family?


Jason 17:39

Yeah, so it's an important kind of technical point. The whole purpose of the farm is to produce food that we can use in Ngombe compound to help feed the hungry kids. So, we're not trying to grow crops and sell them. That kind of things. That's not the model. The model is feed the kids. And so, with vegetable crops, that means it's really sporadic right now. And that's the big challenge we're trying to overcome is how do we get daily, five days a week meals, integrated into our work going forward, and we're focused on that. But anyway, so they'll get the cabbage, or they'll get a bag of tomatoes. And we frequently if they're not used during a meal at the school, like if there's a special you know, they've got some, some porridge for a daytime meal where they introduce the vegetables, then they're given to the kids to take home. Traditional meal in Zambia, that's very, very common daily meal would be nshima, and greens. And the best example I could say to Americans is if you're familiar with Cream of Wheat, with no butter and brown sugar, because when I was a kid, it was Cream of Wheat with like a cup of brown sugar, and butter or whatever. So nshima is like that, but it's real thick. It's almost like you can grab it with your hands and use it almost like sop up like something where it's like, as thick as a bread product almost. That's nshima. And then greens is any grains that they'll have that though cut up and cook. That's a very, very common daily meal. That would be what they would eat if you said what do you want to have today? There's no protein generally. They won't have a chicken or any pork or anything like that. That would be maybe at Christmas for you know if they were doing really well that year. So that's so that's how it's used. So then, you know, when tomatoes or cabbage or onions are sent home with kids, the mom will cook it right up and they'll have an afternoon meal. And it's gone. And unless it's you know, the giant cabbages which we are making these cabbages that are insanely huge, then you know, they might be an extra day out of it. But that's, you know, that's the challenge. I wish I could say the world is all fine now and everybody's well fed, and you know, and full but it's still very challenging to be in the situation we're in with these kids who are just you know, struggling every day with you know, food insecurity.


Jan 19:53

When we think about the farm and feeding the children, is there a scripture verse that comes to mind that talks to go forward and and comfort us and guide us?


Jason 20:04

Yeah, yeah. Well, there's a, there's a lot that come to my mind, we talked in our prior episode about God's heart for orphans, and about scriptures related to that. And the Old Testament, I think the one that probably comes to my mind most often when I think about these things, is just simply Matthew 25, where Jesus made it very clear that at the end of the age, he was going to divide everybody into two, two big groups. On the left, and on the right, you got two groups, and he could have said, anything there. He could have said, you know, you guys on the left there, you worship me and went to church every Sunday, and therefore go to heaven. You enter enter into, you know, into heaven, He could have said anything. He could have said, You guys loved God, more than in the other guys, or other people, he could have said anything right there. And his first statement was, 'For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me, and I needed clothes, and you clothed me'. So that is Christ, calling us to a lifestyle that cares for people who are desperately in need of food, and clothing, and are, you know, in very, very challenging situations. And so, to me, that's really the the call of our heart and our passion. And once you go there, you're just ruined. Because you've seen it. Once you see it, you have to deal with it. You have to say to yourself, I'm accountable for what's happening here. And that's it. Sorry.


Jan 21:47

I'm feeling it, too. So, what is your vision for the future of the farm? Where do you see it going from here?


Jason 21:57

I think we're really excited about this integration of taking the farm and the focus of it into Ngombe compound directly with this Tikondane program and the backyard micro garden. We're also still working with strategies to figure out how to have daily food provided at the schools. The Needs Care School has been incredibly blessed. And they've actually had, you know, this start and stop funding for daily meals throughout the last 10, 12 years, from other donors and people who have stepped up. But they still don't have a daily, you know, lunch program that sufficient. But then that's, I would say, probably one of the best schools in Ngombe compound in terms of being equipped or supported. There are other schools you go to, and they don't even have, it's not even a thought in their mind that they could feed the kids because they don't even have a school building that allow for, you know, that kind of thing. And so our quest is to continue to work through this idea of local employment for local impact, and that local impact is feeding these kids. And so, we're working on strategies for that. I really honestly believe that we're gonna see exponential growth in this area where we have just just huge opportunity. And, you know, there are things coming together, even right now, as we're recording this things coming together in terms of conversations and plans that might unlock huge opportunity for us to serve more kids. And that's really exciting. So


Jan 23:23

Well, on Thanksgiving Day, I'm very, very thankful for what has happened so far and thankful for what God has in plan the plans he has for the future. So.


Jason 23:37



Jan 23:37



Jan 23:38

Thank you very much. I will talk with you soon. Bye bye.


Jan 23:44

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at