Global Reach of Local Faith
There are thousands of people from all over the world who come into the Michiana area every year to study at Goshen College, Bethel College, and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary – based on their religious affiliation and faith.
There are hundreds of local businessmen who bond through their beliefs and support one another’s ventures materially. There are also several hundred pieces of equipment that are sent around the globe to support religious missionary and humanitarian work, again, based on faith. There is local faith with a global reach.
SonSet Solutions sends products to an average of 70 countries every year including radio receivers, solar lamp poles, and water monitoring devices. In the last 15 years it has reached approximately 165 nations, mostly Third World countries. With a staff of six along with more than 50 volunteers, SonSet is a faithbased local nonprofit business that calls 17th Street in Elkhart its home.
(NOTE: A very large portion of the 50+ people are paid staff and not volunteers. They are just paid by another mission organization who “loan” them out to SonSet Solutions.)
SonSet has water monitoring devices in places such as the Amazon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and the Central African Republic. These instruments report water use and other information to satellites and measure the chemical makeup and how fast the water is being used – and how much longer a well may produce.
For other nonprofit organizations working in that area and which are trying to help the local population, such technology offers an opportunity to make better decisions about water usage, when to begin digging a new well, or when to treat it. This prevents the residents from returning to using unsanitary water and, in turn, prevents diseases and death. Near one of these wells one may also find SonSet’s solar powered lamp pole. It stands approximately 20 feet in the air with a solar panel at the top and an LED light connected underneath. The light is usually directed in the area of the hand-pump water well.
“Elkhart is home to great minds and big hearts that enable us to bring transformation to people’s lives in even the remotest of communities,” tells David Russell, President and CEO. “We leverage our expertise in engineering and technology to advance the gospel.”
Additionally, the energy collected by the solar panel not only feeds the LED light bulb at night, but it also feeds a mobile phone charging station that is attached to the pole at chest height. Yes, even though Third World countries may go without electricity, smartphones are pervasive. The charging station also is programmed to emit a wi-fi signal that transmits a Christian message.
Then, there is SonSet’s most-known product: the solar powered radio, which connects people in Third World countries to Christian-based radio stations through pre-programmed stations – the only radio stations these radios can tune in to. Plus, in situations such as the earthquake in Nepal or the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the radio stations transmit emergency information and instructions to assist.
Seven Additional Facts about SonSet from SonSet:
1. There is no direct mention of the activity and product line that has been our bread and butter for 28 years: Community Christian radio stations. SonSet Solutions has provided equipment and technical assistance to establish well over 400 of these stations worldwide. Our main supplier of low-power FM transmitters is IREC (Crown Broadcast) on the north side of Elkhart. We manufacture our own broadcast antennas systems.
2. The local radio stations that the SonSet solar radios are pre-tuned to are typically the ones that we have helped people establish in their communities.
3. In addition to sending products abroad, we provide extensive consultation, troubleshooting and repair services.
4. Besides helping to curb disease through clean water, we are helping to improve rural economies. The less time needed by people to fetch water for their families, the more time they can devote to growing crops or tending to livestock.
5. The actual average count for countries served over the past five years is 64, not 70.
6. We can’t substantiate the figure of how many nations we have been involved in the past 15 years. Perhaps a separate detail of interest that could be included is that over the past five years we have provided technology-based solutions to an average of 118 like-minded groups in those countries.
7. Another important point that could be made and that is substantiated by our statistics is that partnership with like-minded organizations is a big part of our DNA.
Faith and the local economy
Twenty-four years ago the vision from a group of Christian businessmen in our community brought us the first Community Leaders Prayer Breakfast. Since then it has become one of Elkhart’s premiere annual events bringing messages of inspiration and encouragement from nationally recognized personalities such as former athletes Clark Kellogg (now sports commentator), Tim Brown, and Mike Singletary along with coaches Bobby Bowden, Tony Dungy and Joe Gibbs.
Other speakers have come from outside of sports; Senator Bill Armstong, Adolf Coors IV, Vice President Dan Quayle, Oliver North and Lt. Col. Steve Russell who told of his experience of the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. “Christian Business Men’s Connection had been active in the Elkhart area since 1974,” explained Charlie Miller. Charlie was our area’s first CBMC chair and the one who led the launch of the first Community Leaders Prayer Breakfast.
This year’s breakfast, slated for Friday, July 10, will feature retired Lieutenant General Boykin, US Army. Born in New Bern, North Carolina, Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council in Washington, DC. He is also the Wheat Professor of Leadership Studies at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Virginia.
Previously, LTG Boykin served at the Pentagon as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, overseeing the gathering and exploitation of intelligence during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For more information on this upcoming breakfast, go to www.cbmc.com/event/ElkhartPrayerBreakfast.
The greater Elkhart area ... local faith with a global reach.
- 12/18/2017 - Reflections and Celebrations
It’s that time of year when most of us take some time to reflect on the past 365 days,
- 07/31/2017 - We have a phenomenal outdoor industry
As summer settles in and outdoor activities fill our calendars, it’s time to take a look at what we do around here. It’s time to re-brand our industries and communities. Stop talking about the RV industry. Start talking about the outdoor industry.
- 04/10/2017 - Sample the power of Lean
Do you have that nagging feeling that you’re not being as efficient at work as you could be?
- 04/03/2017 - Young entrepreneurs take the stage
It was great fun to witness the launch of three new businesses last Thursday evening.
- 03/27/2017 - Things grow when the climate is right
Last week I attended two events celebrating new, large, facilities
- 03/20/2017 - Excitement Sprouting
After a strange stretch of weather, today is the official start of Spring
- 03/13/2017 - Working for workers
We have a great economy, making great products, providing great opportunities.
- 03/06/2017 - Legislative halfway point, still time for you
The legislature has reached the halfway point. Bills have switched houses.
- 02/27/2017 - 2016 was celebrated. 2017 taking off strong.
Wasn’t that a fantastic Annual Meeting celebration last Friday? At least 500 of you were there.
- 02/20/2017 - Another year done, another year coming
We hope you have your ticket for our Annual Meeting on Friday.
- 02/13/2017 - Bringing the legislature to you, and you to the legislature
Last Friday, we hosted our second Third House town hall meeting of the year.
- 02/03/2017 - Chamber announces legislative positions
The Board of Directors for the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce has identified these Regional priorities for the 2017 Legislative session:
- 01/30/2017 - The road to roads
Our Chamber has advocated for long-term, dedicated highway funding for a long time.
- 01/23/2017 - Our modern Chamber will look like a modern Chamber
As you know we have a very effecting and influential Chamber of Commerce.
- 01/16/2017 - New year = new legislature
The year is still early enough that we are still saying “happy new year” to each other.
- 01/09/2017 - Not done yet
Faster and safer, but not fast enough or safe enough.
- 01/03/2017 - Interns help you and the community
Right now, our companies are struggling to find skilled workers
- 12/19/2016 - Our volunteers are great
Last week, I thanked our outgoing and incoming members of our Board of Directors.
- 12/12/2016 - Farewell and Welcome
Later this week, we will be transitioning our Board of Directors.
- 11/28/2016 - Overtime rule blocked
A federal judge blocked the new overtime rule that was set to take effect December 1.
- 05/09/2016 - Leaders never really graduate
Businesses, and communities for that matter, are looking for leaders
- 04/18/2016 - A rose by any other name
We are proud to announce that your Chamber is the home of the Center for Business Excellence. The Center will help large and small companies improve their process and reduce waste
- 04/05/2016 - Catalytic Leadership Starts Here
It is a challenge to find a leader. It is a challenge to BE a leader.
- 04/04/2016 - Elkhart Leadership Academy - Guiding Our Future Leaders
For almost 30 years, the Elkhart Leadership Academy has been guiding future community leaders.
- 04/02/2016 - Students Complete 2016 Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Elkhart Chamber Young Entrepreneurs Academy will graduate its 5th class of students in May, a total of over 60 graduates since the program began in 2012.
- 04/01/2016 - Ambassador of the Month
Anji Metzler, First Call Staffing
- 04/01/2016 - Ambassador of the Month
Hugh Johnson, J2 Marketing, LLC
- 02/01/2016 - Working Together to Transform our Region
Regional Cities and Vibrant Communities are putting the Elkhart area at the forefront of new economic development
- 01/29/2016 - Ambassador of the Month
Lori Swihart, WSBT Radio Group
- 12/01/2015 - A STRONG year for our CHAMBER and our COMMUNITY
2015 was an active year in the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
- 12/01/2015 - Downtown Elkhart
Thanks to SoMa, downtown Elkhart became a more attractive place in 2015 with new features that guide visitors to restaurants, attractions and parking and add colorful flair in unexpected spots.
- 12/01/2015 - Transportation
The Chamber has long been recognized as a transportation advocate. These key projects will be completed in 2015.
- 12/01/2015 - Indiana Toll Road Travel Plaza Master Plan focus of Breakfast
The Indiana Toll Road spans 157 miles across Northern Indiana from Ohio to the Illinois state line and is a major economic corridor.
- 12/01/2015 - Business and Education Partnership Award Given to Centier Bank
The Greater Elkhart Chamber Education/Career Development Council has presented their 3rd Quarter Business and Education Partnership Award to Centier Bank.
- 12/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Evelyn Johnston, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate Services
- 11/09/2015 - Non-Profit agencies impacted by local purchases
When local businesses and their employees contribute to local non-profit organizations, everyone wins.
- 11/05/2015 - The Impact Beyond the Purchase
Beyond every action, every single dollar spent, there is a ripple effect.
- 11/04/2015 - Not what you buy, but where
When you buy from a local company, you are supporting the employees who live in your community.
- 11/02/2015 - Business and Education Partnership Award Given to Elkhart Public Library
The Greater Elkhart Chamber Education/Career Development Council has presented their 2nd Quarter Business and Education Partnership Award to the Elkhart Public Library.
- 11/02/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Spherion Staffing, Hugh Johnson
- 11/02/2015 - Business and Education Partnership Award Given to Elkhart Public Library
Elkhart Public Library given Business and Education Partnership Award
- 10/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Beacon Consulting, Tom Miller
- 09/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Loretta Salchert, Ribbon of Hope
- 08/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Shelly Crawford, INOVA Federal Credit Union
- 07/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Michael Wolff, Life Style Photography
- 06/01/2015 - Ambassador of the Month
Dave Herrli, GLASS DOCTOR
- 05/27/2015 - Education Council looks for partners in welcoming new educators
Sponsorships are needed for the canvas gift bags and items to fill the bags.
- 05/01/2015 - Help for your business
Business resources available with NCI, SCORE, SBDC, & EDC.
- View all news items