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Dada Stella’s Big Ripple

A word that is changing my life

It’s a simple word but it’s become my favorite.

The word is “Privilege.”

It’s become one of my “6 words to live by.”*

I’m simply using this word to remind myself of how privileged I am to:

  • Be alive
  • Serving Bwana (Lord) Jesus in Africa.
  • Having a wonderful family.
  • Good health.
  • Learning a new language at age 56
  • Privilege.  I’m placing it in my “word chest” next to Gratitude.
  • I’m learning that it’s all in how we look at it.
  • I’m privileged to have the gift and responsibility of writing.
  • Sharing about words.
  • Especially good words like privilege.
Privilege is one of "6 words to live by"  I am learning that we are to be grateful for the privileges we have!
Privilege is one of  my “6 words to live by.” I am learning that we are to be grateful for the privileges we have!

My current 6 words to live by are:  GratefulPrayer/Walk/Connect/Prayer/Encouragement/LifeLongLearning

I’ll add privilege but don’t know which one to drop.

DeDe Iles and Dada Stella.

Dada* Stella and DeDe Iles

“Dada” is a Swahili term of endearment that translates “Sister.”

DaDa Stella’s Ripple Effect

 

Only Heaven will reveal the lives that have been changed

by the lives that have been changed

by the lives that have been changed by God at . . .

 

 

She doesn’t own a car.

In fact, she doesn’t want one.

She prefers to walk everywhere.

 

You probably wouldn’t pick her out of a crowd.

She prefers it that way.

Putting on a front or show isn’t Dada Stella’s way.

 

As far as I know, she has never traveled far from her home area of Kenya’s Kiambu State.

 

However, I’m not sure I’ve known many people with a larger ripple effect than this simple wonderful African woman.

 

Dada (“Sister” in Swahili) has been a teacher all of her life.

She jokingly says she backed into teaching Swahili by accident.

I don’t believe it’s an accident at all.

I believe it was (and is) part of God’s plan to use her to reach thousands with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

And Dada Stella’s ripple effect has gone out over East Africa, the entire continent, and beyond.

 

This born teacher has taught hundreds of missionaries to speak Kiswahili (The language of Swahili.)  She taught two of my supervisors,  Bob and David, over twenty years ago.

 

She’s still going strong.  Trying to teach a tongue-tied Southerner who cannot make the subtle n, ng, and ng’ sounds that easily roll off her tongue.

 

I asked Dada Stella one day,  “Have you ever thought what it’s going to be like when you get to Heaven?”

 

She smiled quizzically at me, so I continued.  “Have you ever considered the long line of people who’ll be in Heaven because someone you taught at Shade Swahili School* told them about the Savior Jesus?”

 

“Well, someone did ask me that same question a few years ago.”

 

I firmly believe that when Dada Stella enters Heaven (in her trademark Kanga wrap and wool cap) there will be a receiving line waiting.

 

  • Generations of Masaii families who came to Jesus because of the work of Bob Calvert and David Crane.
Bob and Nancy Calvert (with Curt and DeDe) at Lake Victoria/Entebbe, Uganda.
Bob and Nancy Calvert (with Curt and DeDe) at Lake Victoria/Entebbe, Uganda.

 

  • A Tanzanian housewife who heard the Good News in her heart language, accepted Jesus, and led her neighborhood to faith.

 

  • Mombasa street boys redeemed by the Blood.

 

  • Refugees from every war zone in Africa who heard the story of Jesus in a stifling refugee camp, took it to heart, and traveled back home to share it with their unreached village.

 

  • Violence-hardened Congolese soldiers who responded to the Gospel when an African pastor (mentored by one of Stella’s students) bravely went into an Army camp and preached Jesus in Kiswahili.

 

  • A shepherd boy along the Kenyan/Ugandan border who connected with The Good Shepherd when he heard Jesus-Stories in his heart language of Swahili.

 

The list could go on and on.  Just like the receiving line will go on and on in Heaven.

You see, Dada Stella has found what matters in life:  Living a life for Someone bigger than ourselves.  That Someone is Jesus.

 

And then using her life for maximum impact and influence.

 

I call them the twin I-beams that are unbreakable.

Influence.

Impact.

 

Here’s how I try to describe them and their connection:

 

Influence is how wide your ripple effect can reach.

Like throwing a rock in a lake, the resulting wave can travel far beyond the point of impact.  Our actions in our own “life space” can touch thousands we’ll never meet.

 

Impact is how deep your influence can go into someone’s life.  It’s a connection that takes time but bears great fruit.  It’s what discipleship and mentoring are all about.

 

Dada Stella has had both influence and impact directly in hundreds of lives.  That influence touches thousands more.

 

Her story is one that should be told. we don’t have to be rich, well-known, or super-educated to have a huge ripple effect.

 

We just have to be faithful, using the talents and gifts God has given us. Doing our best day after day.  Keeping our eyes on the prize and hands on the plow.

 

It’s a good lesson for me.

A good lesson for all of us.

 

  • Stella is one of the co-owners of Shade Swahili School. Its name comes from how African villages had a special tree (mti) that served as the community meeting place, school, and worship center.   Africans would gather there “under the comfort of the shade.”

 

The Muna "Shade" Tree at Brackenhurst Conf. Center. Tigoni, Kenya. This is my favorite African tree.
The Muna “Shade” Tree at Brackenhurst Conf. Center. Tigoni, Kenya. This is my favorite African tree.

 

If you enjoyed this story, I’d love to pass on your comments/words of affirmation  to Dada Stella.

You can do this on Facebook, our Creekbank blog, Twitter, or email me at creekbank.stories@gmail.com

 

 

I have a lifetime fascination with the subjects of influence and impact.  One of my earlier stories,  “The Ripple Effect” is always popular with readers.  I invite you to enjoy it here.

 

Curt Iles currently writes from Kenya where he and his wife DeDe serve with the International Mission Board.  You can learn more at http://www.creekbank.net

 

 

Privilege is one of "6 words to live by"  I am learning that we are to be grateful for the privileges we have!
Privilege is one of my “6 words to live by.” I am learning that we are to be grateful for the privileges we have!

 

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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3 comments

  1. So nice to share you story with others (that goes for all of you)!! God is so good all the time. He needs people like all of you around the whole world!

  2. Hello dear, me plus my mother are as well watch comical videos except after I completed my homework

  3. I came across your blog about Dada Stella while looking for a Swahili translation. I somehow KNEW which Dada Stella you would be talking about. I was in language school at Brackenhurst when she taught there years ago, though she was not my teacher. Glad to find your blog…I’ll be following it! I know the Calverts as well! Blessings!

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