How did we get here???
Notes from Amy…. I became a Christian at the age of 6, but began to understand my sinfulness and need for a Savior when I was a teenager. I knew I needed to learn God’s Word and share Him with others, so I became more involved in my church youth group and Bible study. The summer after my senior year of high school, our youth group went to Philadelphia with “Mission Fuge,” where we did mission work in the city during the day, then youth camp at night. This was my first taste of doing missions. The following summer, we went to a different “Mission Fuge” camp in Mexico and ministered on the city streets. My eyes were opened to the reality that my God was the same God in America and in Mexico. Christians all around the world, in spite of language and cultural differences, have a common bond in our relationship with Jesus. My eyes were also opened to how little these people had compared to how much we Americans have.
The next summer (2002) there was no planned trip, but I still wanted to go somewhere. I decided to look for an opportunity on my own and ended up finding one to Uganda, Africa for 8 weeks. While there, I taught a Christian-based AIDS prevention program in several schools, helped out in an orphanage, ministered to the Missionary Kids in that area, and performed dance in some schools and churches. Since this trip to Africa, I’ve had a heart to go back there. After getting married in 2005, Michael and I went to Costa Rica a few times on short term trips. While short term trips are wonderful and absolutely necessary, I kept sensing that God might call the two of us into missions on a more full-time basis…..at some point.
Notes from Michael…I grew up in a Christian home and was saved at the age of 5. My dad and mom worked at Wilmington Christian Academy and our family attended Grace Baptist Church. I have participated in several missions trips. I have been to Honduras, Nicaragua, China, Brazil and Costa Rica over a dozen times. I was perfectly happy going on my short term trips and in 2005, when Amy and I got married, she got to see firsthand what I had been participating in for all these years, and I thought for sure this was the beginning of a long-term venture for our family. You see, I had plans and those plans were working out marvelously.
Since I was 12 I have wanted to be a teacher and coach and, at some point, I hoped to be the Athletic Director at Wilmington Christian Academy. I also had the normal plans that guys have. I wanted to marry an attractive wife (check) and have awesome kids (check). I had an occupation picked out (check). Low and behold everything was lining up just how I had planned it. All the boxes that I had for my life were getting checked off. I was getting to do what I wanted, where I wanted to do it. That doesn’t happen very often, but hey, I’m a good planner. I was even going to be able to move into the Athletic Director position next year. High fives all around. Once again my plan and God’s plan were running side by side. My plan and God’s plan were running seamlessly together……..and then.
Friends of ours had been called to the mission field and they were going to be headed to Kijabe, Kenya to work in a hospital. Their daughter would be going to a school called Rift Valley Academy (RVA). They thought it would be a great idea for me to teach at the school. Not a chance, I thought. I had the short term missions thing working and all my boxes were getting checked off. I took the courteous look at the website and it was obvious I wasn’t called there. My position wasn’t even listed under the staffing needs. They encouraged the RVA thing for a while, but then kind of left it alone. I continued to follow their journey and was very excited about seeing what the Lord was doing through them. Then on December 9th, 2014, I made a mistake. I got a little nosey and looked at the RVA website unprovoked. There it was in staffing needs, in big letters, “Physical Education Teacher.” Well maybe not big letters, but it got my attention. I shared this with my friend who was already headed to Kijabe, and he asked if I knew anyone who wanted to go…….. Crickets from me.
It was at this time I felt the Holy Spirit begin to work, and over the course of the next few months, I began to see the desires of my heart change. It says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” As our family moved through the process, the desires of my heart changed from wanting to teach, coach and be the Athletic Director to moving my family to Kijabe, Kenya to begin working in the ministry at Rift Valley Academy. The plan is that on October 8th, the wheels will be up on a plane to Kenya and our family will be on it. Based on this picture, Kenya better watch out!