August: Learn & Serve Impacts Lives

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

This year has been unlike anything we   expected at SIFAT. When 2020 began, our Learn & Serve staff members were talking to schools, universities and churches to schedule spring retreats and summer experiences.

Learn & Serve provides opportunities to people living in the United States to gain a holistic view of the developing world through simulated experiences. Visiting the SIFAT Global Village may be someone’s first time seeing how the majority of the world lives and understanding some of the daily struggles. Our programming highlights the appropriate technologies that community leaders in SIFAT training study. Participants in Learn & Serve events see how these technologies can truly make a difference in the lives of the poor and learn how our training alumni are implementing these things in their ministries throughout the world.

Worship in the outdoor chapel last summer


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Learn & Serve: 48: A Slum Experience Recap

This January, we once again held an intense slum experience that lasted 48 hours. In this blog post, Learn & Serve Interim Director Becca Griffin shares not only about this event, but also some background and statistics about urban slums to help us better understand how about one billion people in the world live.

Ecuador : Understanding Our Place in the World on MLK Weekend 2015

SIFAT’s eighth annual 48: A Slum Experience was held on January 17-19, 2015. We attempted to befriend around one billion of our brothers and sisters around the world who live in urban slums today. We tried to walk in the shoes of people whose lives are worlds away from our own.

On Jan. 17-19, participants spent 48 hours in SIFAT’s urban slums to gain understanding in how approximately one billion people live their daily lives.

What is an urban slum? It is characterized by three things: overcrowding, improper housing and poor sanitation. These characteristics — when paired with challenges like dirty water, smoke inhalation, malnutrition from both hunger and hidden hunger, and a great swarm of violence for the vulnerable — create a web of perpetuated poverty. Slums are not specific to one part of the world, but for those living in the developing world, one in three will live in this context.


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Learn & Serve: Fall 2013 Retreats Wrap-Up!

It’s been a busy fall for Learn & Serve at SIFAT!  We have had so many wonderful groups from across the southeast come to our campus in Lineville, AL for L&S programming.  As we slow down for the winter season, we wanted to share a glimpse of this past season with you!

During Fall 2013, we had 1,903 participants experience a variety of Learn & Serve retreat programs.  This is a 37% increase from participation in Fall 2012 Retreats!  Here are a couple of highlights from our fall retreat groups:


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Learn & Serve: Birmingham Youth Support SIFAT Training Graduate in Nigeria!

Pastor Ogbatabo is a pseudonym for one of our SIFAT graduates and trainers in Nigeria. Because of his work in a violent area, we want to protect his identity for his safety. Pastor Ogbatabo submitted a proposal to SIFAT, which was approved as a SIFAT international project. 

SIFAT’s Learn & Serve department pledged to help Pastor Ogbatabo fund his project through educating North American youth on the issue of smoke inhalation around the world and allowing them the chance to partner with SIFAT through financial contributions.  Several L&S staff members and leaders from various participating groups have contributed.  One inspiring story of a group committing to fund Pastor Ogbatabo’s project comes from Canterbury United Methodist Church of Birmingham, Alabama.

When students from Canterbury UMC met Pastor Ogbatabo while at SIFAT during Summer 2013, they decided they wanted to sponsor his project in Nigeria. After telling their friends and parents about Pastor Ogbatabo and his work, they decided to take up an offering once a month at their Sunday night youth program.

Canterbury UMC students keep a tally of the amount raised each month on their prayer (chalkboard) wall in a drawing of the rocket stove.


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Learn & Serve: March Madness!

While the world is gearing up for NBA March Madness 2013, the Learn & Serve staff is ready to hit the court for one of our busiest months of the year!

March brings many groups to SIFAT’s campus for a variety of programs. L&S currently has more than 15 events scheduled next month with an estimated 750 participants coming to our campus during Spring 2013!

Groups will be participating in a variety of L&S programs, as well as using our facilities for their own retreats. We also have several groups coming specifically to volunteer their time to help improve our campus through work projects.

Please be in prayer for these participants as they come to SIFAT for their retreats. Pray they will feel the Lord’s presence and learn the lessons he has for them here. Also be in prayer for our staff as they prepare for the busiest weeks of the year. Pray for their energy and hearts as they attempt to share God’s love with all those who come to our campus.

Are you coming to SIFAT for a retreat next month? Let us know! Comment on our blog, tweet at us, or visit our Facebook page and tell us why you are excited to come to SIFAT!
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