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Issue 16-2

Uncommon Goodness

Note from Karen: My last Soulish Food newsletter was January of this year! David and I have been going through major transitions, one of which has been coming to terms with the aging process. For me, I’ve finally started to pay attention to what it means to live without a thyroid after a thyroidectomy some three years ago due to cancer (I’m a little slow on the physical side of things)! Hypothyroid symptoms have slowed me down, but with some determined adjustments, I’m just starting to feel good again.

I’m working on a book proposal to send to my literary agent and since goodness is the theme of this book and also the theme of our annual 8-Hour Advent Retreat of Silence, I thought I’d let you get a peek at my work. Feedback and suggestions are always appreciated. Here’s my attempt to describe Uncommon Goodness.

Uncommon Goodness:
How Renegade Leaders Create Virtuous Circles That Defeat
Vicious Cycles of Poverty, Ignorance, Disease and Division

by Karen Burton Mains
with Denise Locker

PITCH: With headlines screaming negativity, one renegade leader can affect the lives of hundreds, counterbalancing the impact of constant negative news. This book is about hundreds of renegade leaders who through preventive health initiatives are impacting the lives of thousands of people and communities around the world for the good.

ALTERNATE TEASE: An insider look at a faith-based Médecine Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) crossed with George Bernard Shaw’s description of the value of unreasonable people.*

RENEGADE: An individual who rejects conventional behavior, a revolutionary; untraditional; outlaw; radical; rebel; deflector; outlier; individualist, avant-garde, free-thinker, firebrand, experimentalist, innovator.

VICIOUS CYCLE: A chain of events in which the response to one difficulty creates a new problem that aggravates the original difficulty. (Webster)

VIRTUOUS CIRCLE: Self-propagating, advantageous situation in which a successful solution leads to a more desired result, or to another success which generates still more desired results. (Business Dictionary)

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR: Someone who identifies an unjust equilibrium that causes disadvantage to a segment of humanity without the power or means to alter the circumstances and who through creativity and determination changes the negative environment and establishes one that is sustainable and even reaches beyond the initial targeted group.

* Renowned playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

SHORT SUMMARY: Movements of any kind are basically about the people who lead them—the creative thinkers, the originals, and the entrepreneurial. In Uncommon Goodness, the characteristics of these renegade leaders are examined through the lens of Medical Ambassadors International, a faith-based world health organization, which for the last 35 years has steadily built a highly impacting teaching philosophy into a movement, which is now employed by some 700 other organizations. The purpose of this book is not only to highlight the unique characteristics of “unreasonable people” but also to convince those with their own passions to consider how they too can be agents of uncommon goodness in their world.

LONGER SUMMARY: This is the true story of Medical Ambassadors International, a worldwide faith-based health organization that has changed the nature of development through a grassroots movement that trains people to empower their neighbors to solve their own problems in far-reaching corners of jungles and slums and villages and urban centers. In Africa alone, some 28,000 highly trained volunteers are using the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) methodology as a tool of grassroots training education. MAI works directly or with partners in some 80 countries.

Meet Ray Benson MD, the founder in 1980 of Medical Ambassadors, who flew out of Vietnam on the last helicopter flight with his wife Lou during the fall of the South Vietnamese government. A surgeon working for Overseas Crusade, Benson returned to the States and asked, “If we have sports ambassadors using their talents to present the Gospel, why can’t we have medical ambassadors?”

Meet Stan Rowland, the creative originator who doggedly through trial and error developed the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) methodology that seamlessly integrates curative care, preventive health education, moral and spiritual truth with community development. CHE is now being practiced by some 700 organizations other than MAI in 125 countries in the world and its 5000-some lessons plans, all trialed and field-tested, are now available as open source to other organizations.

Meet Paul Calhoun MD, who sold his dermatology practice at the invitation to become the head of Medical Ambassadors International. Calhoun looked at the lines of hundreds of people waiting outside clinics, sometimes days before the centers opened, then saw the same patients returning time and again and said to himself, “Oh, Lord, there must be a better way.” This prayer of dissatisfaction was answered when Calhoun invited Stan Rowland to join MAI, giving Rowland the freedom to explore (and fail) in developing what would become the stunningly successful Community Health Evangelism methodology that is now a movement spreading worldwide.

Meet Carla Davis (her alias), a degreed food technologist by training, who led research teams at General Foods at Massey University of New Zealand and at Clermont, Inc. One of those teams developed the stuffed pimiento olives beloved by millions of gourmands worldwide. Her skills in food processing and business management have opened doors to restricted access countries where others would not be free to work or travel. A single woman, often traveling alone, she has fearlessly developed local CHE teams in countries closed to the Gospel.

Meet Sharon Abebe, a board-certified biblical counselor, who returned to Ethiopia to specialize in work with abused women and those suffering from broken marriages. As a recent example of her impact, some 42 women were invited to attend a weeklong training retreat in which the Women’s Cycle of Life lessons were taught. Three month later, oral interviews were videotaped, and it was determined that the 42 trained women had taught some of the lessons to 1500 other women.

Meet Bill Bieber MD and his wife Sharon, who discovered the relationship between health and spirituality while working in Papua, New Guinea.  Bill, a Canadian, was acting as a Provincial Health Officer and while making an aerial survey discovered one village that was distinctly cleaner and healthier.  Here a pastor with some basic health training had taught his people those lessons, and the difference could be seen from the air  “That one flight changed our lives,” writes Sharon. They began to work with integral ministry and soon discovered the CHE methodlogy.

Meet Hugo Gomez MD from Guatemala, who established model health centers that ingeniously introduce Westerners to the CHE concept. 

    •  Meet Bibiana McCloud MD from Argentina who became the regional director for all of South America and the Caribbean, now developing the 1000 Day Window, caring for new mothers in pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life.
    •  Meet Dayo Obaweya, elected chief of his Nigerian tribe, business entrepreneur, now applying CHE lessons in microenterprise training ventures.
    •  Meet Rhodora Mendoza from the Philippines and her international seven-week CHE training initiative.
    •  Meet the South Korean doctor (anononymity is imperative) with a PhD in microbiology and a PhD in missions who is designing an academic curriculum to introduce CHE on the undergrad and graduate-school level.
    •  Meet Gil Oldendaal, Regional Director from South Africa who opened up all of Africa to MAI, resigned to assist in the Rwandan Peace Project and is now integrating CHE principles in his role as a senior Vice President at World Relief.

The last two chapters of the book give practical examples of people today outside the MAI organization who have renegade potential themselves and are creating their own virtuous circles. The book will ask, “What can you do to create virtuous circles in your family, in your community, among your colleagues, across your town, in your country?”

These last chapters will reference the research discoveries from the source, The Healing Power of Doing Good by Allan Luks. It will focus on stories of people, young and old, who are also renegade leaders creating uncommon goodness.

•  The Virtuous Spiral: A Guide to Sustainability for NGO's in International Development
Alan Fowler (Editor); Routledge
Description: The Virtuous Spiral demonstrates how development NGOs can engage in a virtuous spiral of performance-based learning that regenerates public trust. This is a timely book, dealing squarely with the confidence crisis faced by many NGOs.

•  The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use To Ignite People, Performance & Profits
Debora J. McLaughlin; Bailboa Press
Description: The goal is to help you break through barriers to performance by implementing success strategies that will unleash the unrealized potential of your people, you organization and your own leadership abilities.

•  Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time
Tanya Lee Stone; Wendy Lamb Books
Description: Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, created a film that chronicled the stories of nine girls in the developing world, allowing viewers the opportunity to witness how education can break the cycle of poverty. Tanya Lee Stone expands on the realities that powered the film.

•  Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson; Crown Business
Description: Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. This book examines the answer.

•  Moving Out of Poverty: Success From the Bottom Up
Deepa Naraya & Lant Pritchett & Soumya Kapoor; World Bank Publications
Description: Why and how do some people move out of poverty―and stay out―while others remain trapped? Moving Out of Poverty: Success From the Bottom Up offers bottom-up perspectives on the processes and local institutions that play key roles in escapes from poverty.

•  Poverty Reduction and Growth: Virtuous and Vicious Circles
Guillermo E. Perry, Luis Serven ,William F. Maloney &, J. Humberto Lope; World Bank Publications
Description: That raising income levels alleviates poverty, and that economic growth can be more or less effective in doing so, is well-known and has received renewed attention in the search for pro-poor growth. What is less well-explored is the existence of vicious circles in which low growth results in high poverty and high poverty in turn results in low growth.

•  The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World
John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan
Description: Through fascinating storytelling the authors examine the personalities and approaches of unconventional entrepreneurs, the unreasonable people of the title, who are solving some of the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental problems.

Due to the rising idealism of our times, we believe the audience for this is wide. The language of the writing and the storytelling will not be geared simply to a conservative Christian readership. We are finding that there is a spiritual hunger but a rejection of traditional religious approaches (and often a reaction against what is considered to be clichéd theological verbiage). Authenticity is imperative. MAI is an authentic, non-publicity-seeking aid organization that does not money-monger (obviously the proof is in the yearly budget of only $2 million a year). The personal sacrifice of the international field staff is stunning. To the skeptic, the MAI approach is how many of the spiritually disenfranchised feel a Christian organization should function. Let’s go for a crossover audience.

For your sake, we have cut this book proposal down from eight pages to four, but this sketchy approach gives you an idea of what it takes to put a book that is international in its scope and touches on public concerns together.

It takes lots of time, physical strength, mental stamina and research!

So, will you put my name on your prayer list? Pray that I will use my time wisely, that I will be physically strong, have clear mental capacity and that the research will come to me right when I most need it.

Karen Mains


2017 Advent Retreat of Silence
Taking the High Road: The Courage to Choose Goodness in a Confusing World


Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed or perhaps directionless? Are you longing to experience God intimately? Don't settle for believing God is distant. Trust there is much more. Trust you can be in an authentic and close relationship with Divine Love! If this is your heart's desire, then please join us for our 2017 Advent Retreat of Silence, at Turtle Creek Acres in McHenry, IL, led by Doug & Melissa Timberlake and David & Karen Mains. This guided retreat gifts you with the time and space to connect with God's divine whispers and nudges. This is a transformational retreat you won't want to miss. Bring a friend or spouse and experience the day together.

The retreat dates:
- Thursday, November 30
- Saturday, December 2
- Thursday, December 7
- Saturday, December 9

All retreats run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Space is very limited! $177 early-bird registration if you register by October 31.

The Advent Retreat is held at Turtle Creek Acres,
a 1920s fully renovated dairy barn.
It is full of beautiful spaces that are adorned
for the Christmas season. Come rest,
experience silence and connect with God.

Retreat Leaders

Melissa and Doug Timberlake

David and Karen Mains



The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Hungry Souls Contact Information

ADDRESS: 29W377 Hawthorne Lane
West Chicago, IL 60185
PHONE: 630-293-4500

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

Will you put my name on your prayer list? Pray that I will use my time wisely, that I will be physically strong, have clear mental capacity and that the research will come to me right when I most need it.
A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

A Path Appears by Pulitzer Prize-winning husband and wife writing team, Nicholas Kristoff and Sharol WuDunn, is almost a compendium of information, facts and evaluations of the work of aid organizations around the world. Ever since the publication of their best-selling book Half the Sky, with its humane exposure of the condition of women around the world, I’ve watched their work, read Kristoff’s opinion pieces in the New York Times and detected a hunger for and appreciation of true spirituality that makes a difference in the way believers and practitioners live their lives. Kristoff / WuDunn are one of the few secular journalists who openly respect the work of faith-based missions and missionaries around the world.

This book, A Path Appears, is an excellent analysis of those individuals and groups who seek to make a difference for the good here at home and farther abroad. Honestly approaching the problems of giving aid, looking frankly at mistakes that are made in attempts at generosity and altruism, (building wells, for instance; an estimated 50,000 broken wells litter Africa alone), the authors nevertheless have created a work that is heart-lifting, soul-warming and poses the question in each reader:  What is it I can do that will help? That will change despair into hope? That can shine light into darkness?

The appendix includes a list of helping organizations whose work and approaches have been verified by outside organizations, and adds great value to the reading experience.

I highly recommend A Path Appears! I found it in a Goodwill bin (it was published last year) and feel like God just put it in my way.

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