Hi everyone! I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone who is supporting me this year. I am now fully funded thanks to all of you! Your gifts truly are making a difference both in my life and in One Body One Hope (OBOH). I cannot believe how much I’ve enjoyed my time serving with OBOH and also how fast it’s going! It has truly been a blessing. I wanted to give you a quick update on where I’m at and what’s going on in OBOH. I’ve spent the last 3 months in the States now getting projects started, preparing trips, and reaching out to churches for support for our pastors.
The campaign is entitled “Empower a Pastor” and is designed to support the pastors of the churches as indigenous missionaries. This will allow the pastors to reach out into their communities and into the unreached peoples in the heart of Liberia. This program is beginning to take root and we are very excited to see churches partner with these missionaries at a simple $200/month and through prayer support to enable them to reach Liberia with God’s love.
One of the other major events of my time here in the States was to gather things to ship to Liberia! It was so much fun to see people give with their own resources (not just financially!) to make this happen. Our supplies left on October 17 from Iowa and headed to Kansas City thanks to a few people that generously donated their time (and truck!) to take it down there. It is scheduled to arrive December 15 in Liberia. We ask for prayer warriors to pray this container across the ocean and especially through the port and to the AVDC property.
I’m sure some of you are wondering, “What’s in this container?” Well I’m glad you asked! The container holds a couple thousand books for the school (textbooks, reading books, teacher’s resources), solar panels for the school (this will power the entire compound during the day, saving us a few thousand dollars each year), shoeboxes for the kids (thanks to everyone who made one!), farm equipment, and flooring tile for the school. We are so excited for these advances!
Now that the container is sent off, my time is being spent preparing for upcoming trips. My next trip is November 10-18 and I have the privilege of going with Michael and Maria Gallagher. We will be spending a lot of our time looking at the farm and setting up a 5 or 10-year plan for the farm with them.
After that trip, I have a short time at home for the holidays and then I head back on December 31 to help lead the AMOR trip, install the solar panels, hand out the gifts to the children, and much more. I will be in Liberia until January 25! I am excited to get back to Liberia and see how everything is going, and the progress they are making.
Have you ever wondered how OBOH is run? What started as a grass-roots endeavor has grown into a ministry with many moving parts. Our Executive Board consists of 6-8 members who set direction, cast vision, and maintain close contact with our Liberian counterparts. Our Teams are groups of passionate, dedicated individuals who focus on specific aspects of the ministry. Our Christ Our Hope and Vine School System of Christ (CAT) Team handles everything related to the original COH children’s home including medical needs, groundskeeping, the school, and sponsorships. A branch of the CAT Team is the Education Team—they work hard to ensure that the Vine School System of Christ is offering the best possible education for the kids of Christ Our Hope. The Agriculture Team has been laboring to get our 178-acre farm up and running. The Media and Communications Team is the “voice” of OBOH and strives to tell our story well. There is also a rather casual Church Partnership Team that consists of the various direction-setting teams from each of the churches involved in our Liberian partnerships. Finally, we have a Ministry Treasurer who handles our finances, and, of course, our Interim Development Coordinator, Austin. All in all, there are over 30 people intimately involved in the inner-workings of One Body One Hope. Each person has a significant role to fill and our ministry would not survive without their meaningful contributions!
We also have a wider network of friends and supporters who work alongside team members writing cards, putting together packages, sharing the story with friends, and coordinating individual fundraisers. We are so blessed by our volunteers! It is confident, hardworking people like this who make it possible for us to share that we took in almost $400,000 in donations during 2015. And guess what? 99.97% of those donations went directly to our work in Liberia. The best part? the .03% of donations received that went to cover administrative costs was fully covered by our board and team members—and then some. We love it that we can say: 100% of YOUR contributions go straight to the kids, the farm, the churches… our Liberian friends. THANK YOU.
I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone who has supported my position financially. Although we’re not fully funded, your gifts truly are making a difference both in my life and in One Body One Hope (OBOH). Many of you are probably wondering what I have been up to the last two months since I started. I spent a lot of the first month getting caught up to speed with OBOH and where projects are at. It was so exciting that first month to hear, see and be in the middle of what God is doing through OBOH and our brothers and sisters in Liberia. I have spent much of my time organizing and coordinating various things within the ministry, meeting new people, researching and learning a lot about community development.
As you may or may not know, I spent two weeks in Liberia from July 5-July 19. The main focus of this trip was really focused on building relationships and listening to requests from our friends in Liberia; how we can better help them, what do they like about what we are doing, and how can we grow more in this partnership and so on. Many instances I was overwhelmed by the physical need of the people I met in poverty, but time and time again, this was countered with their overwhelming love for each other and joy in Christ Jesus. It was the richest thing I have ever seen!
Now that I am back stateside for a little while, I will be organizing projects and teams, going to various churches and telling the story of our friends and fundraising for the needs they expressed to me a few weeks ago. I’m also hoping to finish fundraising for my position. Would you uphold this endeavor in prayer? Thank you for coming alongside me on this journey!
There is a lot of pain in the world today. In Liberia, I see it all around me. Victims of poverty, once living on hardly anything, now living on nothing as a flood robs them of all possessions. A country limping after Ebola and a civil war. I go on the Internet and see the pain that is circulating around the U.S. with recent shootings and protests. I have had the opportunity of seeing these things from afar, all while being immersed in one of the poorest places on earth, yet at the same time being surrounded by powerful love of brothers and sisters in Liberia.
How and why do they love a rich, white American so easily? Jesus Christ. It's that simple. And this gives me hope. The CHURCH is the hope for the world. WE are that hope for the world. Is there pain and hurt? Yes. Can we ignore it? No. This is an opportunity for the body of Christ to show the power of love. This is the only solution to the pain, hurt, and trouble we see around us, whether that be in the United States, Liberia, Europe, the Middle East, or anywhere.
This may seem unrealistic to many or that there is a more logical solution, but the gospel isn't logical to begin with. These children, this body of Christ that I have been blessed with the last week should give hope to all. They are proof that Christ conquers all pain or hurt, no matter where it comes from. Let the JOY of the Lord be your strength.
It is so easy to let the pain overwhelm us. The list is endless after all; shootings, terrorist attacks, poverty, war, and refugees… But we are called to have the eternal perspective that the gospel gives us as Christ tells us, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) May we spread this hope to the hurting world.