In the January issue of the SIFAT Journal, we introduced a new column, SIFAT Remembers, written by SIFAT cofounder Ken Corson. Between issues, extra columns will be published on our blog. The first few columns are all written on the topic of the character of SIFAT. We want these columns to focus on accomplishments, struggles and important moments from past years; whether you’ve been a SIFAT supporter from the beginning in 1979 or are just finding out about SIFAT, these columns will help you understand SIFAT better.

The Character of SIFAT
(Originally printed in the SIFAT Journal, January 2008)

SIFAT grew out of personal experiences… some successful, some not… that gave us insights into how to serve God by serving people. As a founder of SIFAT, along with my wife Sarah, I will share in future articles and blog posts, some of those formative experiences that shaped what has become the character of SIFAT.

In 1958, Sarah and I married and went to Cuba to teach school and work with the Methodist Church. While we were there Fidel Castro came to power. We returned to the States at the end of the school year and soon afterward, antagonism between our countries began. Many Cubans fled their homeland, missionaries left their work, and the U.S. began an embargo against Cuba. Movement in and out of Cuba became restricted. Castro took over many church buildings and other institutions. We learned then that buildings and materials can be confiscated, but the things that are built into the minds and hearts of students and parishioners are not as easily taken away.

Simply “helping” people can create dependencies that can make them vulnerable. We learned from our Cuban experience. Thus, SIFAT’s ministries, even our projects, are centered around training, not hand-outs… helping people help themselves. One of the basic aspects of the SIFAT character is illustrated by the well-known proverb: Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.

Tomorrow, we will post the next installment of this series. Keep checking the blog throughout 2008 for SIFAT Remembers.