Sunday, February 5, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (3) A Response to "Why"

A significant Moment from our First Trip, 2010

My grandfather, Carmel Mathis was a pastor in the Church of God and my childhood was deeply embedded into the Christian culture and faith. I can remember giving my life to God as a small child in the basement of Camden Church of God at the alter during Super-Church (a Sunday service for children while the adults worshipped in the main sanctuary). However, I can also point to significant moments during my walk as I grew. 

I can point to a night in the hearth-room at Towne Boulevard Church of God when I was a youth that a felt a strong commitment and purpose from God. I have powerful memories of while I was in college at Anderson University as I searched for that purpose that just seemed to elude me. I remember walking in the rain one night, crying out to God as I read scriptures (thoroughly saturating a Bible). And most recently, two years ago on a snowy day in February, I remember pulling my car over alongside the road and weeping when I realized that God was telling me that I had taken my focus off Him and my life needed to change. I knew I needed to be a better father, a better husband, and a better man.

That summer we went for the first time to work with C.R.I. in Guatemala. I came home broken, recognizing the vast poverty that existed in my own soul, and convicted by the power of faith that I had encountered in the people there whose lives intersected with mine. I can point to a moment while building a cinder-block house that God reached into my being and seized my attention. While on my knees in the mud, I can tell you with certainty that God entered my life again at an even deeper level.

This has been a life-long quest for me. At a young age I was told by my grandfather that, “God has a plan for you big boy.” As I grew up in the church, I would hear this message from likely sources such as pastors and mentors, but what really gripped my soul was when I would hear it from unlikely sources. I remember being stopped by a little lady in a nursing home during a youth group trip. She gripped both my hands and looked into my eyes and told me, “I know you, and God has placed a silver platter in your hands. He is gonna use you.” To this day, the fierce memory of that moment makes me tremble.

I think that was the first time I started to believe that maybe God could use me? I have always hoped that he could, but I could never find how. I tried a few times. I volunteered in college with a church as Minister of Music and Youth (alongside my girlfriend who later became my wife). I pursued ministry in the church during my first 2 years of college, but it just wasn’t right. I struggled with the realization that my path was not the path that I believed it to be.

Looking back now, I can see how all the pieces of my experiences have made me who I am today. I see that I have gained skills and knowledge that I could never have learned otherwise. I am now strengthened to see that indeed God knew what plans he had for me, even when I doubted and feared.

Specifically, the moment I felt my calling to be a missionary alongside the Guatemalan people was a very tangible moment the summer of 2010. I had already been to Guatemala  on my first trip. However, even then, I had not fully comprehended... and indeed, I was not fully prepared to receive the vision God was to provide. The full power of the moment happened at the home of a friend, Larry Renner. Larry had been on that trip with us, and served on the board of Catalyst. Larry invited us to his home to meet Fontaine and Paula, the directors of the ministry. They were on furlough when Kellie and I served, and so this was our first opportunity to see them. We were thrilled. Although we didn’t know them, we already loved them because we had seen evidence of their love.

Larry and I conquering a massive root on my first day in Guate 2010.
Larry and I have worked together on 3 separate trips now!
After hearing what Fontaine and Paula had to say about Guatemala, Kellie and I were driving down the road, heading home . I felt powerfully convicted that my life was about to forever change... and dramatically so. But, I was fearful of how in the world could I speak of this to my wife? And so, I took a deep breath and began to tell her of my convictions. I wanted to move to Guatemala and serve alongside them. As I tried to explain myself, Kellie interrupted me, and to my shock, she perfectly articulated the desires of my heart. You see, God had been speaking to her as well. We both found ourselves excited as we realized the incredible confirmation of our vision.

Since that day, we have been working towards reaching our calling. Finally, I realize what God has prepared me for. I understand that He wants to use this vessel. I am humbled, and thankful.

Our Calling~
Our passion is adoption. Our calling is adoption. Our belief is based on adoption. We are all adopted sons and daughters of God. Born of blood, born of water, and made His children by the miracle of His adoption.

Our daughter, of our first moments together.
Orekhovo-Zuevo Orphanage, Moscow, Russia 2004
Even as a child, I knew I wanted someday to be able to adopt a child. By the grace of God, I married a woman who had the same desire. Caleb was natural born to us, and then our hearts turned towards adopting our first daughter, Aleksandra. We found her in Russia. She has blessed us immeasurably. Through the relationship with her, we better understood our own relationship with God. And so now we complete our second adoption. Sterling is from China. She was born on January 2nd, 2011 and was abandoned in a hedge at an intersection. She was born premature, and she was born female in a country that values males. And yet, she beat the odds. She was found, saved, and now awaits our arrival in the final week of February.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

New International Version (NIV)

Adoption continues to drive our passion. 
We plan to live alongside the Greene family in San Cristobal, Guatemala and learn what they do, learn the culture, and learn the language. We will continue to develop so that we can be a help to them and provide them some relief. The girls they provide a home to are forever changed. They are given love, a new family, belief, hope, and a path provided by education and goals. We want to be a part of this miracle, this true religion... and then we want to duplicate that setting as we step out on our own.

It is our belief that the adoption laws will again change in Guatemala. We desire and envision that we are to be a home where girls can come to stay while we find them their forever families. International adoption is our legacy, and we desire to facilitate this so that others can experience this incredible testimony of the redemption of God.

Provision of The God~

Convergence. Provision. Simple words that sum it all up. Bits and pieces of unrelated chaos that have come together in the most remarkable ways. The timing of our adoption, the question of what to do with our home, our work histories and even our education.

Kellie has also always felt a deep calling to teach English as a second language in a foreign nation. In fact, several years ago she received a grant from The Ohio State University to learn how to do just that. At the time, we had no idea of our convergent calling to Guatemala! As part of our transition to the country, Kellie will teach for 1-2 years at one of the local American schools in Guatemala City. 

I will begin full time work with C.R.I. as soon as we transition, the summer of 2013, devoting my time to learning the day to day operations, and immersion in the culture. Kellie’s teaching will help give us a financial base to springboard our goal of setting up an additional location to serve the children of Guatemala. 

James 1:27

New International Version (NIV)
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Currently we are speaking to friends, family, and congregations in order to build financial support. We anticipate that it will require about $35,000 per year to support a family of 5 in Guatemala. We now have a funding agent, Commission To Every Nation (CTEN) who will be the storehouse of the donations of those who support us. We have a list of 100 friends & family, as well as a list of 10 churches who we will seek out and ask. 

So, if you share our passion and our belief... stay tuned to my Guatemala 2013 posts and as soon as CTEN is operational, I will share the links for donations!  

For now... your daily prayers that keep eyes on the vision and feet on the path!

No comments:

Post a Comment