Our Core Staff Team
Dan and Kristen Gillespie: Co-Founders of Miqlat
Resourcefully leading the team as we, to quote them, "stumble forward, together!"
Papa Dan and Mama Kristen began ministry as Young Life staff even before they were married, and have been pursuing God’s call to ministry for most of their lives. In 1998, they left their post aboard Operation Mobilization’s Logos Ship to step into a new venture: taking baby boomers from their comfortable American contexts to encounter God in places of desperate need around the world. They are people of deep trust in God, believing He hears us, responds to us, and answers our prayers in ways we cannot begin to understand. Mama and Papa to the ministry, Kristen and Dan care for the children with a fierce passion and visit Malawi often to support the ministry that God has created through them.
The Hope Center Admin Team
Kogoya Hope Center Director
Raymond, husband of Mercy and father of two sons, Luyanda and Tawanda, is the Director of our Kogoya Hope Center. He joined Miqlat in 2010, after his wife, Mercy, had been volunteering with us for some time. As the Director, Raymond has worked hard to transform Kogoya Hope Center and the children who meet us there. In addition to his position with Miqlat, he is a pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Malawi (PCM) and oversees all of the new PCM church plants in the surrounding region. He is steadfast and hard-working, pouring himself out to staff and children alike. As our resident abusa (local word for pastor), Raymond has a huge heart for seeing our children grow to know Jesus and become self-sustaining adults, responsive to God’s call to a greater purpose. Under his guidance, the kids at Kogoya have taken ownership of their Center and participate fully in caring for each other and the Center “family style”. As a former contractor, carpenter, and teacher, Raymond also strongly advocates for vocational and continuing education for our kids, even piloting his own brick laying and carpentry program at Kogoya for a time.
Thuchila Hope Center Director
Victor, father of young sons, Jolly and Joshua and husband to Emma Mkolongo (not to be confused with Emma Holmquist!) is the Director of our Thuchila Hope Center. Beginning work at Miqlat as a volunteer during our earliest days in Malawi, he was delegated to lead our second Hope Center at Thuchila when it opened in 2011. He brings his unique mixture of enthusiasm, knowledge, grace upon grace, creativity and computing skills to the Hope Center each week. Having managed his own computing business before feeling God’s call to Miqlat, Victor is particularly equipped to administrate our first computer lab at his Center and train the staff and children there. He believes in a one-to-one relational style of ministry and leadership, creating safe spaces and understanding with the kids by chatting with them individually and often. This personal style has helped many of our children to gather the courage necessary to take significant steps in their lives or accept challenges in school. They realize Victor genuinely knows them and has their true interests at heart. Victor also runs a chicken business and always has his ears open for entrepreneurial opportunities as well as ways that he can be of help to others.
Mercy, wife to Raymond and mother of Luyanda and Tawanda, is our Programs Manager at Miqlat. Her job description is frequently in flux as she takes on the different needs of different seasons, but no matter what her current logistical details, Mercy is a lynch pin connecting our field staff with our admin staff. Before joining Miqlat, she spent years as a research surveyor for a UNICEF AIDS and development project in Malawi. Her time as a surveyor left her with a bleak picture of the state of rural Malawi and a desire to see her country progress. Additionally, as a result of her training in sexual abuse counseling for young girls, she has developed a passion for seeing the growth and empowerment of the girl-child. Miqlat is a place where she can advocate especially for the girls, constantly affirming their worth and encouraging them to be responsible with their choices and ambitious in their schooling. She (and we) are always hopeful that they will resist the cultural norm of marrying young (often at 14) and fully utilize the educational opportunities we provide.
The Mission House Admin Team
Sally Fox: Executive Administrator
Mama Sally has been on mission with Miqlat since before the very first vision trip to Malawi in 2003. Beginning as a regular member of the short-term teams and a sponsor of multiple children, Sally slipped into the role of full time onsite Executive Administrator in 2011, in the midst of a host of growth changes in the organization. Based at the Miqlat Mission House in the suburbs, she has her hands in everything, from financial accounting and sponsorship lists to meals with children and teacher trainings. As a former teacher with a successful career of 30 years under her belt, Sally has a passion to see our children’s minds opened and their potentials unleashed. The vision of a Miqlat school has been growing in her heart for years and she is now instrumental in giving this vision substance and life. She is beloved by the children, who really enjoy showing off their school work or any new phrases they have learned in English whenever she comes to the Hope Centers.
Lyson Kachoka: The Glue
(and House Manager)
Beginning as a house keeper for a family associated with Miqlat nearly 10 years ago, Uncle Lyson joined our ministry team officially in 2011, as support for the administrative leaders residing and working at the Mission House. Since then, he has grown dramatically as a person and in responsibility for Miqlat activities. Inquisitive, humble and wise beyond his 36 years, Lyson is an avid learner and has taken advantage of every opportunity, not only to attend trainings and school courses through his work with the organization, but to share his new knowledge with anyone who will listen. He has become a fully qualified Foundations for Farming instructor through multiple layers of training at Crown Ministries and uses his agricultural knowledge to increase the productivity of our Hope Center gardens and teach improved farming techniques in the village. He believes Miqlat’s work is timely and important, especially the combination of feeding the children and providing for school needs and fees. He says that what he has learned in his years at Miqlat has changed his life and has changed his communities as well.
Emma Holmquist: Spiritual Growth and Communications Coordinator
Emma joined Miqlat in 2016, as God began calling the organization to a new level of growth and challenges. She is from San Diego, CA, a graduate of Bethel Seminary and a former long-time barista. Emma is now surprised and delighted to be using both her pastoral training and her photography and design gifts together in her work at Miqlat. “When God finally talked me into accepting ‘pastor’ as a primary part of my calling,” she says, “I thought it would mean relegating my arts background to a hobby. Now I get to walk out my faith by loving kids, ministering to leaders, AND developing websites and publications, bringing two major pieces of myself together for this one good work.” Emma loves leading a weekly Bible study for our facilitators (children’s workers) at the Hope Centers and playing lots of board games with the kids in between their regular programmed activities.