Vanessa and Ben Henneke took part in Landmark Education’s Self Expression and Leadership Program in 1997. In 1998, Anglican Bishop Simon Chiwanga of the Diocese of Mpwapwa in Tanzania invited a team of missionaries from Truro Church led by Vannesa and Ben Henneke for an initial seminar in Small Group Servant Leadership. An initiative began to organize the members of his Diocese into self-supporting, cooperative Small Groups. These groups eventually led to the creation of TIST – The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program. Vanessa Henneke has reported on the process:
In 1998 we were invited to come to Tanzania to help train lay leaders for small groups in the Anglican Diocese of Mpwapwa. We returned in 1999 and as part of the training and small group work asked the participants what they cared most about and what they wanted to do about it. They wanted to reforest their land since the elders could remember it as forest, eradicate famine and address health concerns. (No one spoke of HIV/AIDS then.) We responded to these deep desires by starting The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST). Today there are over 50,000 subsistence farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and India addressing climate change, poverty, environmental degradation, food shortage and health concerns. Over 7 million trees are alive today; many are using sustainable farming best practices that increase their harvests 2-5 times; they are addressing biodiversity, water quality, HIV/AIDS, malaria and fuel efficient stoves that protect the women and children from harmful smoke. The program is growing at 50-100% per year.
We are constantly using skills we learned through SELP as well as other training and experience in courses and small group studies. We declared something huge and enroll others to help us every step of the way. We continute to learn about coaching, use listening, accountability and conditions of satisfaction. For cross cultural seminars as well as meetings, we develop promises. There are probably other distinctions we use and don’t even realize it because they are ingrained. We continue to stretch and life is never dull.
For more information about TIST and the difference it is making in the world, visit the TIST website.