Merry Christmas from SIFAT!

During this Christmas season, I want to thank our staff, supporters, board members, international mission teams, Learn & Serve participants, work teams, volunteers and our training graduates who are serving in hard places of the world for joining us in SIFAT’s ministry! Thousands of SIFATers across many countries are working together to share God’s love in practical ways through SIFAT. Those of you receiving this letter are part of that global fellowship with us. God’s Kingdom work is empowered and multiplied when we are united in our efforts for Him. I am deeply thankful for you and wish you a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the SIFAT staff!


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October 2022: Worth the Wait

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 Narváez, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

For 10 years, the church in Aida Leon, a neighborhood in the south of Quito, Ecuador, waited for SIFAT teams to come start an addition for their afterschool children’s program. They had little space in which to welcome these at-risk students to get them off the streets and in school, to help them with their schoolwork and to feed them nutritious, hot meal lunches.

They never imagined it would take 10 years to break ground to start building. Who could have imagined a president wanting to build a bunker and use imminent domain to take the land? How could it take so long to receive permits and clearance to build? But finally, everything was in place and our teams arrived in 2018 to support SIFAT graduate Pastor Wilson and his church. Our teams worked diligently when plans changed, and a basement needed to be dug! For two years, we served the people of Aida Leon, while enjoying beautiful views of the mountains. As we all remember, the world stopped in 2020 and so did construction in Aida Leon. At that time, we thought it might be a delay of a few months, maybe a year at most. However, we soon realized we would be paused indefinitely. That’s where you stepped in!

SIFAT Ecuador Director Dr. Roberto Contreras, international team coordinator Peggy Walker, Aida Leon leader Cecelia and I enjoy treats in the new kitchen — tostado y chicharrón.


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September 2022: From Witchcraft to Worker for Christ

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 Sarah Corson, SIFAT Co-founder

In 1994, SIFAT began training Christian workers at El Renuevo in Venezuela. Several years later, we had to close it because of terrorists in nearby Colombia, who had begun coming into Venezuela and kidnaping Americans for ransom.

This summer, Yurima Alvarez, one of our El Renuevo graduates, came to SIFAT to teach youth during our Learn & Serve Summer Experience and to learn more technologies to help her people during this difficult time in Venezuela. She brought us news from a number of SIFAT’s graduates from those years we worked in Venezuela. Yurima encouraged us, telling us that the SIFAT training was still going on in different areas of Venezuela, as our graduates with whom we had lost contact were still training others using the skills and knowledge that they learned more than 25 years ago.  One especially caught my attention.

“Remember Oscar?” she asked. We could never forget Oscar! He was from the Yanomami, deep in the jungles bordering the Orinoco River. His tribe still dressed in the ancient loin cloth, but he got clothes like we wear to come to the SIFAT training sessions. They were still hunter-gatherers and did not know how to farm. Their tribe was in danger of dying out because their hunting and fishing territory was becoming smaller and smaller as homesteaders were pushing into the area. The Orinoco River was becoming polluted from the oil drilling companies.

Sarah and Oscar spend time together at El Renuevo in Venezuela many years ago.


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August 2022: Lifelong Lessons from Summers at Learn & Serve

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. This month, we are sharing two articles written by youth leaders that brought their groups to SIFAT this summer. One has attended Learn & Serve for years, while the other had her first experience alongside her students. Both believe in this program and its valuable lessons for youth and adults. Thank you for supporting SIFAT and our programs both here in Alabama and internationally! Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Clinton Wheeler, Youth Minister, Cookeville FUMC (Tenn.)

SIFAT has been a part of my life for a long time. I came to my first Learn & Serve Summer Experience when I was in middle school. I remember walking across the bridge one morning and saying to myself, “I don’t ever want this feeling to end.” For the first time, I heard God’s voice telling me that I was called to youth ministry and that this is what he has in store for me. The next night, I accepted Christ as my savior and have been involved with youth and SIFAT ever since.

Each day during our L&S Summer Experience, participants have small group discussions and time with their youth groups to talk about their experiences and explore the week’s theme.


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July 2022: Serving Breakfast in Atucucho

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. To read previous updates about SIFAT Doctor in your House/The Golden Bread, click here.

Written by Marie Lanier Narváez, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

Slowly, our car creeps up a steep mountain, scraping speed breakers while we reminisce about our first visits to Atucucho, a neighborhood in Quito, Ecuador, where SIFAT has been serving for more than 20 years. As we arrive at our destination, a nondescript concrete building among a row of buildings in various stages of construction, we see a line of people winding down the next hill. Dr. Roberto Contreras, Tom Corson, Peggy Walker and I climb out of the car to choruses of Buenos Dias! as we make our way to the door. We are quickly wrapped up in the arms of Ledy Sanchez, a SIFAT graduate and the driving force behind SIFAT’s work in this area.

Ledy guides us into a bustling kitchen, full of ladies cutting vegetables and stirring gigantic, steaming pots. Smiles are abundant, and the smells are vibrant with a breakfast drink in one pot with cinnamon and anise and the beginnings of chicken soup in another. These women prepare meals for about 400 children and 80 elderly every day. Ledy tells us she starts baking fresh bread every morning at 4 a.m. But we do not have time to keep exploring this kitchen, lifting lids and chatting with the ladies, because that line of people needs their breakfast.

Ledy is a SIFAT graduate, who has led our projects in Atucucho, Quito, Ecuador for many years. She is an driving force in her community.


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