surreal

Surreal moments. Those places in time and space where you can honestly not believe you are where you are and observing what you are observing.

Acts 1:8…come on, quote it with me, you should know by now…

My obsession with this verse is old news. Very old news. I remember a couple years ago when I had the random God thought that the verse got complete turned on its head when you heard it while living in a different area of the world. That thought busted open a new worldview for me. What was my Judea as the United States would be Europe for someone living in Europe, while Europe was actually my ‘ends of the earth.’

Imagine my utter astonishment to find myself sitting in church on Sunday as a Haitian Pastor preached Acts 1:8 to a congregation filled with Americans, Canadians, Haitians, Europeans…all living in Haiti.

It was such a surreal moment for me that I am certain I chuckled under my breath.

As his comments unfolded, it became very apparent that God has worked this verse over on this Pastor in very similar ways that he merged it into my vernacular.

I sat in awe as he asked the congregation, ‘Where is your Jerusalem?’ Your city, he stressed.

‘Where is your Judea? In all the departments of Haiti!’

‘Where is your Samaria? Friends, how do you feel about Dominican Republic? God is calling us to be witnesses even in Dominican Republic.’

His reference to Samaria’s place that makes Haitians uncomfortable should enlighten you on how Haitians feel about Dominicans.

And then…then he spread both hands wide and shared with the congregation that he knows ‘God is calling Haitians to the end of the earth. For hundreds of years, Haiti has been receiving missionaries. It has become normal for us to believe that someone will help us and that people will come. We have become too ready to receive help from others. Who here is God calling out of Haiti and into the world to be a witness for Jesus?’

I got goose bumps at those words. I have said them myself in a post I wrote last summer called ‘dare.’ As the pastor continued, I heard my own words ironically echoing in my head, ‘Americans will not save Haiti. Instead, I firmly believe that Haiti will save America. And if the world chooses to pay attention…God will use Haiti to change the world.’

Friends, God is doing something spectacular in Haiti and he is intentionally placing Haitians where he needs them to be his witness.

I hear Haitian pastors preach on excellent topics quite often. In most recent months it has been a lot of calling people out on their sin, imploring couples to get married after years of living together, confronting voodoo social practices and church planting around Haiti. It was inspiring to hear a Haitian pastor preaching for his people to seek God’s calling on their life, and to be open to the possibilities that it may be beyond Haiti.

Haitians are typically not dreamers. Americans are raised to dream big, the sky is the limit. However, when most Haitians are concerned daily about how to pay for school or where food will come from tomorrow, dreaming is not a reality.

Inspiring Haitians to seek their calling from God is monumental. It’s exciting, and it opens a new Kingdom door to Haitians that has previously been unrealistic. I am honored to join Haitians in prayer to seek their calling. In order to join then, are you willing to set aside any preconceived notions that Haiti is just a country seeped in poverty and dangerous? Are you willing to see differently? Are you willing to see Haiti as a hopeful nation? Are you willing to see how God is working in the lives of Haitians?

I cannot wait to see how God will be speaking to not only individual believers here, but how he will continue to use the Pastors to speak into the lives of the congregations. And a large piece of me breathes a sigh of relief that others are hearing the same thing from God when it comes to scripture.

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men

I’ve seen countless women answering God’s call to be present within the orphan window around the world. Obvious reasons feed into why women are drawn to orphan care. Each has an innate way they nurture, love and care for others. I’ve even been surprised to see some of these qualities come out in myself. What I really wish is that social expectations for those qualities in men were higher, with much respect for what they already bring to the table.

Realistically, I would trade 5 of these phenomenal, Jesus’ lovin’ women drawn into orphan care for ONE MAN who is passionate about Jesus, willing to surrender himself and step outside his comfort zone to pour into the lives of orphans in this world and those who care for them.

No, ladies, I am not disvaluing your continual presence in the lives of orphans you care about, and it is always a joy digging deep into the mess of relationships with the kids and laugh until I cannot breathe with you. I am emphasizing the importance of men who are not afraid to show they love Jesus in the lives of kids who have been abandoned, and have few examples of the strength found in men that embrace their love for Jesus, and then their love for wife, family and friends.

If you hear one thing let it be that orphan care is not for one gender or the other. It is equal opportunity for all to be active in God’s Kingdom. Let me also clarify that orphan care is all inclusive of many different people in our world. When you define an orphan as someone who has no one to champion them…that busts open a new worldview to orphans being elderly, single moms, widows, foster kids, abandoned kids, kids with no parents, kids with parents in jail and the teenager down the street whose parents have decided they are done parenting.

Orphan care is also not just for those of us who happen to be called beyond the borders of the United States. It is for every believer living in God’s Kingdom who is a neighbor, employee, spouse, parent, sports enthusiast…the list goes on. Orphans surround you on a daily basis. Granted some are living in far more extreme situations than the neighbors of those that are reading this, but to God each orphan is equal to the next. No orphan is loved more by God based on the situation they find themselves.

IMG_1114I’ve had some unique opportunities to see men active in the lives of orphans around the world in the last month. In October, there was a group of 22 that came down to Haiti. Four in that group were women. Do the math…that’s eighteen of the male variety. What I saw in that group was the admiration on the kids’ faces as the men led games. Joy when a kid found themselves on the top of a man’s shoulders. Intense concentration as a man’s hair was braided, then pride in the result. Complete abandon as men held them and ‘hopped’ them through a potato sack race. There is great responsibility when a man steps into the life of an orphan, because that child of God is looking at how they treat the wife and kids they are traveling with, as well as the others on the team. They are watching, because they don’t see it very often.

IMG_5081The kids rarely have men play with them, and each of those interactions is a mark on a young boy or girl that has few models to look to in their life. I love the translators that work with us in Haiti. They have genuine love for the kids they see, and it’s no coincidence that the kids gravitate to these strong men who love Jesus. A few months ago one of the male social workers was at the village when a group pulled in to visit. He had a swarm of older teenage boys hanging around him as they kicked a soccer ball around. Another village we support has mamas and papas who live with the kids. The respect the kids have for the papas who are with them every day is evident. When you look around the village you see a lot of women taking care of the kids, cleaning clothes, cooking meals and male Pastor who is leading them all. What is absent from the daily life of most villages is the presence of good, strong examples of what it looks like to be men who passionately loves Jesus and choose to be present with the kids. There is definite strength in the women surrounding the kids, but God wants to use the presence of men in the kids’ lives to enrich their view of his Kingdom, too. Does it help an orphan connect with God when they see the real life example of what it is to be a man running after his Father’s heart? It was beautiful watching the kids come alive around the men on the team, but equally beautiful watching the men come alive as the kids soaked up the time they were given.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers; or else I will strike the land with a curse. [Malachi 4:6]

My hope is that men would inspire men to go deeper into God’s heart for the orphan, but that means time and loyal investment into the messy areas of orphan care. It means making time to walk through life with someone else. It means spending time with other men struggling through a calling to be present in the lives of orphans. It means digging deep into relationship and in the best case scenario…discipleship. And ladies, it means no guilt trips when your man is working through answering his calling. Take pride in that with him and support him, even if that means a fraction of time away from your family. He will be a better dad and husband for answering God’s calling…I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

Recently I traveled with a group to visit the kids in Russia that we have known for six years. These are short visits with long-term commitment that God is richly showing up in as we gain shared memories with the kids. Kids and their American friends write letters throughout the year, and once a year we get to physically be present to connect with kids, as well as their caregivers, teachers and the man who directs them all. These relationships have taken years to develop and much patience with God laying a base of trust. It has been a hard road, but worth every messy minute to be a part of what God is doing now.

IMG_5817This year we had four people, two men and 2 women, after several years of only one man traveling on our yearly visit. Much time was spent with these fellas being goofy, leading activities and allowing themselves to simply be present in the moments God put before them. We spent a lot of time in the gym, and there was a constant line of boys challenging the American men to different athletic endeavors. But it wasn’t just about a show of strength, it was about connection. It was about how you act when you lose, and how you represent yourself in a game. It’s about taking opportunities to be on the same team. It is about a young boy looking at an older man and craving to be known by someone that cares about them. It is about the moments in conversation where life is shared. It is about respect. Men crave respect, and it is no different when you are 14 or 55. How a man respects another man in the context of a challenge shows their character, and as far as the character in the lives of the Russian kids…not many take the time to pour into it.

One of the conversations I had with the orphanage director this year was how impressed we were with the amount of college and university students he had this year. He humbly blew off the compliment with a response that they may be getting good grades, but their character is lacking. His example was how he can provide for them and they can get good enough grades to move on, but after that it is up to them while living on their own. I’m praying God will raise up Russians to help pour into his concerns, at the same time I know we will seeking God in ways we can help support him to grow character in the kids. It is God’s Kingdom community working together that dissolves language barriers and country borders.

I am blessed to know many men who are active within the orphan window and passionately love Jesus. These men have incredible character, and love for their families. I get to see every aspect of these men come alive while being present with some incredible kids. It’s in those moments I see God’s Kingdom come to life.

Many of the kids I know names and faces of throughout the world never knew their father. The fathers are the ones that, unfortunately, are more likely to not take responsibility for their families. I also know many men that are taking responsibility, whose character is strong and love for Jesus is written all over their lives. I believe God is calling these men to call out the men who have not taken responsibility for their families. I get that it’s hard. I get that you don’t think it’s your responsibility. I get that it’s easier to pretend that single mom is doing great on her own, but if you are a great father then disciple other men to be great fathers. Imagine an absentee father on his knees asking forgiveness of his children, imagine the grace possible…imagine the picture of a family restored because a community of men came around another man whose relationship with God needed restoration. A Kingdom life restored to God’s glory. Men, it’s time to be men…real men who stand up for what is good, right and just in this world. Hold fathers accountable to being present with their families, and keep their family unit whole. Embrace how God has created you and lead with confidence.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers; or else I will strike the land with a curse. [Malachi 4:6]

God is calling men to take seriously the spiritual role as head of their families. God is calling the men who already are to disciple those that are not leading their families. God is calling men to seek the gentleness, playfulness and compassion within the strength he has given them. God is calling men of all backgrounds to be present and pour into the orphans of this world…the real question is which of those men will have enough crazy and courage to say yes.

 

 

 

camp

Even countries apart, it astounds me how God connects us in peculiar, yet pure Kingdom moments.

Several days ago I got a Facebook message from a friend that the Methodist camp staff in Missouri had been let go. To be completely sincere my initial reaction revolved around the fact I live in Haiti and while I was sad for the pain those I love are experiencing…there is not much I could do. I wasn’t even at camp this year, and due to work related mission trips, I hadn’t spent a whole week at camp in a couple of years.

Then, more and more things started popping up on my radar. More Facebook messages. More text messages from students that were heartbroken, and wanting to know what I thought. More photos assaulting my Facebook feed. More emails. Then last night as I saw a photo that got posted…I was reminded of camp in 2011.

Honestly, I didn’t want to be there. I was organizing the biggest relief effort the church I worked at had ever fielded. I was sending teams and leaders twice a week for what would be an entire year, and traveling myself at least once a month…on top of everything else I was already doing. The friendships gained over that time were countless and so incredibly special. However, while I was juggling mission responsibilities and student ministry responsibilities I was completely burning myself out…because I was giving myself to good, God honoring things and in my heart I did not have time to be at camp.

But God’s time table did place me at camp.

I was placed as a leader in a small group that would have a ripple effect on my life, and life outside US borders for years to come.

I shared about surrender one night. One of my co-leaders had shared from the perspective of marriage, and I felt led to share my perspective on surrender as someone who God has created and called to life beyond ‘social norms.’

Afterwards, one of the students followed me and said, ‘Can I talk to you about what you were sharing?’

I will never forget that night. I will never forget that conversation. I will certainly never forget the intense presence of the Holy Spirit over what was shared.

My friend shared that she felt called…to a strange place she had never been and couldn’t explain why she would feel called there. Those she had already shared it with had told her she was crazy, and it couldn’t possibly be a real thing. Callings like that didn’t come to people like her.

I was the first voice in her life to say she wasn’t crazy. She felt called to Africa, and I knew she wasn’t crazy because when I became a believer in college I had the same calling in my life. I had the same well-intentioned, or not, people tell me I was crazy, and even ‘You are a young, new Christian. All new Christians feel that and you will get over it soon.’

I knew what it felt like to be in her place. I knew what challenges lay ahead for her. During that evening I knew God had placed me in her life to encourage, love and pour into her with all of the gifts and experiences God had placed within me. It is called discipleship…and it started at camp.

We prayed her through years of obstacles, and she traveled to Haiti with me in 2013. It wasn’t Africa, not yet, but it will be. She came back to Haiti with the organization I work with in Haiti this summer. She has been ignited, and went home ready to change her major at her university. Now we are praying her through God’s plan for her. He is certainly the only one right now that knows where he will lead her.

I first felt the call to Africa in 1999, God didn’t send me to Liberia, West Africa until 10 years later. Now he has landed me in a place that if I arrived blindfolded, then had it taken off outside of the airport, I would ask ‘Why has Liberia started speaking French?’

Calling is real, and sometimes God speaks into it in the most beautiful ways.

I did not grow up in church. I never went to ‘church camp.’ My first experience with church camp was as a leader for our students as a student ministry director. Our church had many discussions on where we should take our students to camp each summer. This particular camp is not the slick and modern camp that many of our students were craving, and thought they wanted. The tradition of silly songs is awkward for me at times, but this is a place God preserved for transformation. It is a place students are challenged to leadership in planning, praying through and doing nightly services for their peers. It is a place where all are told they have talent and all talent is affirmed. It is a safe place to toss out your doubts, your disbelief and be challenged to be more for the Kingdom of God. It is a place that the Holy Spirit shows up in very significant ways.

God has used so many moments within the camp setting to heal, ignite and send out students to live a Kingdom life. Even in my short time with the leaders and students, I have a plethora of stories I could share.

Nothing within me naturally wanted to be a part of camp, but God revolved it around a deep community that I was absorbed into so easily and seamlessly. Kingdom community is sacred. It does not always revolve around place, nor should it, but sometimes places are sacred, too, not as an idol. Moses didn’t take his shoes off to idolize the ground, he took them off because he was on sacred ground.

This community is my brand of crazy, and they desperately want to preserve time and space for God to show up…in whatever way God has planned. But in God’s plan, not the human plan that revolves around human perspective and opinions. Five years ago, I never would have cared that a Methodist committee decided to close some camps, but God does usual things at times and I find myself wanting my friends to persevere in how they feel God is leading them. I find myself praying for the leadership, students, staff…that God would speak for all to hear and obey gracefully.

I have no revelation about where God is at work in this. What I do know is that his glory will shine through this and I desperately want the time preserved for young women who are from small churches to meet other crazy, Jesus loving, Kingdom living women so they can hear that they are not crazy and God’s calling is real.

calling

When I was in college, before I left for China for the summer, a friend wrote a scripture out for me on a piece of paper the size of a fortune that would be in a fortune cookie.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:28]

I’ve been reminded of this verse many times over the last 13 years since she gave it to me and I taped it into the front of the smaller Bible I take on mission trips.

I was reminded again when I randomly found this verse crafted into metal art at a store a week ago when I accompanied a friend who was buying items for the souvenir shop at Jumecourt. Obviously, I bought it. Worth every penny.

But reminders are not enough when it comes to a word imbedded into the verse.

More specifically…

Called according to his purpose for them.

I love this word and I love this verse, but for a lot of people that is intimidating. It could be because they haven’t invested the time with God to know what their calling is in his Kingdom. It could be that they are in denial of something God has called them to in his Kingdom. Or even that they know what God is calling them to, but it seems too risky and difficult to do while living comfortably with a good job that takes care of a family.

Acknowledging your calling from God requires a massive amount of faith, even more self-awareness and most of all a strong commitment to prayer and discernment consistently.

And those things take time and deep trust with the one who created us.

Although having that answer of what your calling is doesn’t make everything complete and your  life easy. There have been a multitude of times that I have questioned that everything was actually going to work together for the good of my calling. There are always people who will question your calling, and even tell you that you are not good at what you are called to do. Then others who don’t approve of choices you make within your calling, and heap negativity onto it. In those moments, the only voice you need to hear is the one who has called you. I have many failures under my belt, along with a pretty healthy amount of bad habits and people I have offended with my words and actions. I am the farthest from perfect you can get…but it is within those imperfections that God has not only affirmed my calling, but sharpened it to a specific area.

Since I became a believer there was a strong pull to God’s mission. It was never separate for me. Always hand and hand. It wasn’t until a few years ago I realized that wasn’t true for everyone.

After a decade of living a calling to global mission, God moved me into a place of learning and trusting him through massive amounts of surrender. It was hard. It was painful. But it was worth it. Through that time, God showed me a specific area of brokenness that he wanted me to focus on in his Kingdom.

He chose me to fight for those that have no voice. For those that have been abandoned. For those that cannot trust or love easily, because they have been hurt by broken people living in a broken world. For those that have no one to champion them.

He chose me to be passionate about orphans in a global context.

The most thrilling part of all this is that he also landed me in an organization whose sole focus is orphan care through the local church. It is what brought me to Haiti, and it is what will sustain me on the days that living here is hard.

Only the God I serve with everything in me could have orchestrated this amazing timing, place and people I get to work with to be so specific to my calling in his Kingdom.

It’s more than exciting…it is life giving. When you experience living in the middle of what God has called you to, it is the most incredible feeling in the world, which makes every single word of Romans 8:28 the very breath of God to a soul that is craving their piece of God’s Kingdom life.

basic needs, pt. deux

It is a given that out of the six of us blogging that I am going to have a different view from everyone else simply because I am the one living in Haiti now. I think the Rethink Church question we are posting today is meant to have us reflect on the things that distract us from the needs around us, which is amazing for a lot of Americans to think about since we are broken people who default to sinful choices in however that manifests for us individually. Rethink Church asks, ‘What are those temptations that rule you and make you turn away from those in need? In poverty, disease and hunger?’

I don’t have a lot of barriers between poverty, disease and hunger surrounding me right now. It is pretty much everywhere give or take a concrete block wall. There is no escape, and honestly, I embrace that because this is something God has been pulling me to be a part of for a very long time.

As a broken, sinful person, even though surrounded by those in need, distractions seep in and I’m responsible to notice those and make corrections to be the best I can be while being with those around me. When I am tired and we are going to the third village of the day…it’s not the kids’ fault that I am tired and grouchy. That’s on me and I cannot waste myself in those situations with the very real excuse of ‘I am tired.’

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. [1 Peter 2:11]

God brought me to 1 Peter this morning…still not sure why, but I found this and I love how it says foreigners and exiles. In New Testament times there was a disconnect between those that followed the God of Moses and those they considered foreigners and unclean through their laws. It was a rebellious life the followers of Jesus led, especially when they embraced foreigners and started proclaiming that Jesus was for everyone.

As Americans, most of the time there is criticism for being passionate about people outside our borders, or foreigners within who don’t speak ‘our’ language. It’s not popular to like Russians right now, people are always complaining about Spanish speakers within our borders and don’t even enter a conversation about the Middle East, right? Recognize the sin in those criticisms and repent, because God didn’t create borders. We did. God created a world that sin crept into, and his desire is for it to be reconciled. But we get in the way.

There are a lot of distractions in the States, especially when the social norm is to be okay with ignoring people in need. How many times have you ignored a homeless person? Or judged them for what they are doing because there are ‘resources’ available? Yes. There are a multitude of resources available, but the bottom line is we do not know their story. God knows their story, and he is the one who calls on us to help those in need. God doesn’t put parameters on who is in need and who isn’t. There isn’t a sliding scale that he uses. He says help them, and a good reference on that is Isaiah 58:6-7.

As believers, we should reflect on this as well:

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Peter 4:7-11]

In the moments you feel your human body is the excuse to turn away from the need in this world, know that the strength God provides will be filling and enough for those moments. Don’t allow distraction and sin to keep you from doing the work that God has called you to in whatever context that is for you. We are a part of a global church that is most beautiful when it reflects the heart of God. To him be the glory.

awake

I strongly dislike mornings. If I am awake early, it is purely strong black sludge in a mug that makes me appear human.

Which means I am a night owl. I love the quiet of night, and if you look at the time stamps of when I post you will notice a pattern of time of day when I get my inspiration to write.

There are times that I have the best intentions of going to bed early, then the next thing I know I am still awake past midnight.

I watch TV. I listen to music. I read. I pray. I write. I ponder…a lot.

My brain tries to process the day and who I was with, who did I not see that I need to check in with, what needs to be done tomorrow…the list goes on and on.

But one of the last things that play through my mind while I am still awake are the places that have made a mark on my soul, and changed me.

They take turns. China. Russia. Haiti. Liberia. College. Friendships. Arguments.

Tonight I find myself doing the math as to what time it is in Russia. Right now, the kids are probably studying and it’s almost lunch time. How was their morning? How much snow did they get last night? (This thought is normally followed by a quick check of the weather, which is a snowy 17 and feels like 7 during the day while it is 11 and feels like -3 in KC overnight.) Did they wear the hats and gloves they were so excited about last month? It’s banya (bath) day, who will try to skip and not get caught by caregivers? Sergei is the best bet or maybe Dima S. Is Valya still in the hospital with pneumonia? Has Danil decided to not be as psycho today? Did someone tease Lena and make her sad? Who made Gera smile today? What has Vika drawn? Was Larisa more of a kid or mama today? What new poem has Stas memorized and did the superhero cape get pulled out and worn? Have the boys seen the soccer world cup groupings that came out? Has Dima kept control of his anger issues? Which Americans wrote a letter that might get delivered today by Yulia, our discipler?

These are orphans I know by name. They struggle with most of the same things our kids struggle with, but with the added scars of not being accepted by their culture and living with abandonment issues.

I was being obedient in my calling to international mission when God woke up a huge part of my soul in a small village orphanage with 50 kids, and he’s kept my passion alive for justice ever since.

One of my favorite songs is ‘Wake Up’ by All Sons and Daughters, and it always reminds me of this verse in Ephesians:

‘Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”‘ [Ephesians 5:14]

The chorus of the song is ‘Wake up all you sleepers. Stand up all you dreamers. Hands up all believers. Take up your cross…’

When you lie awake at night, what are you thinking about? What has God made you awake for?

Or better yet…what is God trying to wake you up to…or have you been choosing to press snooze?

The truth is this world is waiting for a lot of believers to wake up. Whether you have believed in the truth of the universal reign of God for an hour, a day, a month or 50 years…too many believers are asleep to the mission impulse God put in each one of us.

It’s there. Dig deep. Maybe chisel down to lay some of your scars bare to find it.

Because this world desperately needs your compassion, discerned words, unconditional love and faith in the world beyond this one.

Choose to be awake.

This post is part of a blog series using the Rethink Church Advent photo-a-day word. If you use Instagram follow #rethinkchurch or #rethinkchristmas.

reasons

IMG_4520It’s too expensive.

It takes too long to get there.

You have to use translators.

The money would be better spent on helping orphans than sending you to travel there for a week.

You name it, I’ve heard it regarding the reasons NOT to travel to Russia, and spend time with our kids over the last 10 years. And yes, it’s been that long, insane…I know.

But what happens when the discernment of calling, self-examination through prayer and the need of the kids to have a physical presence far outweigh the price tag?

You cannot put a price on relationship.

You cannot put a price on encouragement.

You cannot put a price on a hug.

You cannot put a price on giving a child hope because someone is supporting them and choosing to believe in their future.

You cannot put a price on family.

The orphans in Russia are put into a category that places a stigma on them as worthless and inferior to all other Russians. Simply because their parents either got in trouble with the law, abandoned them or died. They are told that they deserve to be in that orphanage by their culture…because no one wanted them.

They are considered broken.

It’s not fair, and it ignites God’s sense of justice in me.

It puts innocent kids in situations they are not equipped to navigate. It creates a mistrust of everything and everyone in each of those kids. It makes them feel alone, and unloved. How can anyone expect them to trust a loving God they cannot see when each person around them has broken their concept of love and trust?

097

That it not God’s heart for them…and it is wrong, very wrong.

I have had the privilege of a front row seat for the change in the kids as they grow closer to their American friends. I’ve grown those relationships myself with two incredible gentlemen. I’ve experienced the change in them as they are poured into by someone who genuinely cares for them and wants nothing in return. I’ve seen students push themselves harder in school while encouraged by the love of another. I’ve seen them develop a sense of family with someone who is thousands of miles away.

I’ve seen God ignite a passion for his children in so many people that choose to make a difference in the lives of some phenomenal kids.

Mission is about God’s heart for the world. It is about righting the wrongs of this world, and believing that each of the wrongs that get righted moves us closer to God’s Kingdom.

I passionately believe God has called each one of us to a specific purpose, and within that purpose we find ourselves as the best we can humanly be in his image.

Some God has called to their neighbors. Some God is calling to the urban core. Others God calls to disaster areas. And yet others are called to the crazy world of global mission. We don’t choose our calling…but we get to choose to live it.

Many times over the last 10 years I have found myself examining my heart for the orphans of Russia. It is expensive. It is far away. The language is hard. It is a completely back-ass-ward country.

Yet every time I return to God and ask, ‘Still?’ the answer is consistently a resounding ‘Yes!’ with an aside of ‘Please stop asking!’

I’ve learned over time  it’s not worth it to argue with God…therefore I choose to live in my calling, and choose to love and support kids that are stronger because of God’s love  flowing through his people.

*If you feel pulled to help me live in my calling, consider checking out my photography at sojourner4jesusphotography.com. I am currently fundraising for the next opportunity to serve God in Russia this November.*