When I meet people who don’t know my family very well and I tell them we’re moving to Kenya, I get a variety of reactions. Questions like, “how long will you be there” and “How many of you are going” are common and met with my reply, “about a year and…. all of us.” After they pick themselves up off of the floor, their next question is always, “Why?”
Good question! What would motivate my wife Lisa and I to move all eight of our children to Kenya for nearly a year and then return to the United States for a life that will be focused on ministry? The easy, short answer is God. The longer, more detailed answer is still God; it just takes a bit longer to get there.
Since the age of 16, Lisa knew she wanted to be a missionary in Africa. That desire came from the Holy Spirit working in her and Godly adult influences in her life that gave her a passion to serve. After she graduated college, she was sidetracked from her dream by a husband (me!) and eight little blessings that came one at a time over 14 years. I on the other hand, missed (or should I say, ignored?) any communication that God was sending my way about serving overseas. Even though Lisa and I, before marriage and after starting our own family, had huge hearts for kids and helping them, we weren’t doing much to be doers of His word when it came to serving His children. In 2007 we decided that our comfy life in suburbia needed re-prioritizing. Lisa and I purposed to find a way to take our children overseas and until we found that way, we would work to help children and more specifically orphans and the impoverished, while we stayed in little old Oakdale waiting for our turn.
God blessed us with a family verse, James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” From this verse we created the first Riverbend Ranch Charity Carnival and with the help of our family and friends raised over $8,000 for Acres of Hope, an orphanage based in Liberia. Since 2007 we have raised over $65,000 that has been given to worthy ministries serving orphans and widows.
One of the ministries we supported in 2009 was Agape Children’s Ministry based in Modesto, California. The Directors, Blake and Esther Gibbs were kind, encouraging, enthusiastic, had a mentoring spirit and the joy of the Lord in their lives. We were drawn to what God was doing with this ministry and the street children of Kisumu, Kenya. After a few meals and visits with the Gibbs and over a year of time, we journeyed with our oldest daughter in September 2010 to Kenya and called the Gibbs on their invite to come and see what God was building in Kenya. What happened? We fell in love with Kenya, the children, the ministry and what God is doing there and decided that we wanted to be part of it!
I’ll admit, I left for Kenya feeling a bit more like I was going there to help Lisa fulfill her dream, but God blessed me with a vision of my own while there. A vision that a family of ten could travel around the world and serve God by loving children that know poverty and hardship like no other children I know. Our tools will be our love for the Lord, God’s commands to love the orphans and the poor, our own children filled with hope that each of them will have a way to personally minister to the street children of Kisumu and one another where Lisa and I will work together as a team glorifying God and loving those who think that they can never be truly loved.
Simply, a family being doers of the Word, living and sharing the gospel not only in word but also in action. We invite you to join us while we discover more fully how God is moving in Kenya and in the lives of our family of ten.