Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hello from South Africa!

I am so happy to say that my entire family is finally in South Africa! Sorry to be so behind on updating but the last month has been a blur of a whirlwind. When Jason returned home from his last trip in May, we began praying through a shorter-term move of three months. Several reasons for this…one, it would be way less costly and two, we could come on a tourist visa and not have the constraint of working through all the requirements for a longer stay in country.

God radically confirmed this through the provision of taking care of our home. At the beginning of June, I mentioned to a friend what we were sensing and that we would be looking for someone to rent our home for the three months while we were away. My thoughts being ‘who in the world wants to rent a house for three months anyway?’ Well, less than 24 hours later, that same friend was standing in his back yard talking to a contractor that he had recently hired when the man begins to say that he and his wife had just received a contract on their current home and would not be able to move into their new home until October… giving them a three month lapse and no idea what they were going to do. As you probably can figure out, my friend connected our families and the rest is history! The really cool thing is that this couple actually lives in our subdivision just a street over from our current home. When we met them and were talking through if the scenario would work, his wife asked when we would be able to be out of our home to which I replied ‘whenever you need us to be.’ Her reply, ‘how about June 17th?’ I am certain my mouth dropped wide open. This date had special significance because a group of precious friends of ours were already leaving on this date to travel to South Africa on a Pinelake mission trip. Jason and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t be able to be in South Africa by then and had broken the news to them the week before that there was no way possible that we were going to be here with them. Needless to say, after that conversation we checked flights and when there were 5 seats still available on their same flight we took that as our confirmation that it was time for us to come. I share the details of this because it is a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty over all things and His faithfulness in all things. God is so good!

We arrived in South Africa on the 19th of June and were fortunate enough to spend our first week here with friends and an incredible team ministering alongside Tabitha and iThemba Ministries. It was a tremendous blessing for me personally to see the impact that this place has on people and to get a glimpse into the work that God was doing in the hearts of the team. We saw the last members off this past Sunday and this week we have been busy trying to get ourselves settled in. God has graciously shown us where we will be calling home for the next three months. We are extremely thankful and continue to be humbled by His provision over our steps. We currently need prayer over the acquisition of a vehicle. Automobiles here are more expensive than we had anticipated, but we continue to trust that God will guide our steps and give us wisdom in that area as well.

It has been almost a year ago exactly that we first traveled to this beautiful country. Last July, I would have never envisioned what this past year would have held. This has been such a remarkable journey and we continue to be so humbled by it. Thank you all so very much for your continued support, encouragement and prayers.

I’d love to have you visit our website at www.restorationhope.org to find out more about what’s going on here in South Africa!

Blessings to you….

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Launch of Restoration Hope...a note from my man

I remember even at a young age that there were two prevailing fears I had regarding giving my life to God. I did not want to be a pastor and I did not want to live in Africa. Four years ago God led me to face that first fear by becoming one of the pastors on staff with Pinelake Church. I walked away from my family’s business and the career I had spent over 8 years developing to help lead an amazing team of ministers, assistants, and volunteers. It was a leap of faith that God used to help me see that His way was truly best and that there was nothing in my past or present I could do to disqualify myself from His plans for me. Two years ago God started stirring something new within me. Ironically, He used the Liam Neeson movie Taken to open my eyes to the repulsive reality of the sex trafficking of children. Additional research into that dark and nasty world further opened my eyes to see the reality of abandoned children living in abject poverty.

This pursuit ultimately landed Brandy and I on the ground in South Africa. On our first trip, we were only there for 10 days but honestly it only took one day for our reality to be shattered. I had read statistics on orphans and even had advocated for ministering to them, but standing in the middle of thousands of them changed everything. I once thought I was simply blessed to live where I lived and thought very little of my responsibility to the world. I looked at what I considered to be rich people and judged them for not doing more. Then I read a statistic that has forever changed my attitude. Standing in the middle of poverty unlike anything I had ever seen, these words literally burned my eyes and heart as I read them, “If your household income is over $25,000 you are in the top 10% of the world’s wealth. If your household income is over $50,000 you are in the top 1% of the world’s wealth.” I suddenly became aware of just how much had been entrusted to me and I began to beg God to forgive me for my apathy towards those that suffer and my judgment of those whom I considered as being responsible for doing something about it. I looked into the mirror on that trip and heard God clearly call me to step up and put my faith and resources into action.

To be completely honest, the past 7 months have been nothing short of pure torment for us. We have wrestled with God, fought against our fears, and longed to just return to our "normal" life. In the middle of it all, God has continued to lead us toward fighting for those who have no voice. I am writing this today to let you all know that Brandy and I are taking another leap of faith and to ask for your help. We have started a non-profit called Restoration Hope and will be relocating to South Africa to get the work there started. As you can imagine this is not a paying gig and we will be relying on the money we are able to raise. We trust that as God has placed this burden on our hearts to go and be used by Him to start this work, that He has been working in others to help us get there.

Please visit our website at http://restorationhope.org. There are a few things that you can do to help us:

1) Prayerfully consider making a financial commitment to Restoration Hope.
2) Sign up for our newsletter and share the website with others.
3) Read the prayer page and partner with us in prayer.

At this point in the journey there are still so many things that we do not know and the risks seem crazy. Brandy and I have decided that we can handle failure, but what we can no longer tolerate is our own apathy towards children living in conditions that are unimaginable. We hold no illusions of grandeur and fully realize that we cannot save them all. The bottom line for us is that God has indicated to us both that He is preparing a great work in South Africa. We fully believe that He is going to show up and show out in the community of Sweetwaters and we are humbled that He has entrusted us to be a small part of it. We extend that invitation to you today and invite you to join us on the great pursuit of seeing an extraordinary God do an extraordinary work.

In Christ,
Jason and Brandy