The calendar has once again flipped to another year. It stands before us as a blank canvas, offering new mercies, new challenges, and new adventures. It’s a fresh start just waiting for us to ink it up with our one, beautiful life. We are expectant as we gaze out over 2014. God-willing this will be the year that our life changes forever, as we move our family of six to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We are breathless with the anticipation of serving Jesus in the place our hearts call home, and being able to begin our mission of rehabilitating street kids and sharing life and the mercy of Jesus with them through intense discipleship. We are not naive to the hardships that we will no doubt face, the mistakes we are bound to make, and the reality that living in a third world country with four children will not be a dream vacation. Even now, through challenges we are currently facing, we can see God’s gracious hand artfully and specifically preparing our family for what is to come.
We are striving to be thoughtful and intentional as we plunge into this new year, taking with us the life lessons that we learned in 2013 and always keeping our eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of this life we are given – Jesus. We feel such a sense of urgency to get to Africa and begin our lives there, but for now, we are still here. We are not ready, God is not finished preparing us. It is a balance to be present here when our hearts are longing for there. So we continue to embrace the days before us and plan for the future ahead of us. God has only given us a numbered amount of days here on this earth, and with this knowledge we fully embrace this new year, desperate to follow Jesus – here and there.
One big thing that we took away from 2013 is how much collaboration there is in building the Kingdom. Our family is being called to serve in Ethiopia, but Mercy Branch Inc. is so much bigger than just our family. We tend to be pretty independent people, and we like to do things on our own, but God is gently tearing down this area of pride and showing us our need for community and for help from our brothers and sisters. Kingdom building is not a competition (we will be one of many missionaries living in Addis, and we pray that each of us is successful in building our specific piece of the Kingdom), and it is not something set aside for the most spiritual and put-together (we certainly would not qualify if that were the case), neither is it something that can be done in isolation. We desperately need you. We desire a community of fellow Kingdom builders who will join the others who have stepped up, become passionate about, and thrown themselves into this adventure with us. Our hands are extended, and we are inviting you in. Please consider investing in the Kingdom with us. One area of investment that we are so desperate for support in is prayer. We absolutely need people going to the throne with us and covering Mercy Branch Inc in prayer. This is vital to Kingdom building. Here are some specifics that we need you to pray with us about as we enter this new year:
- Monthly Supporters. This is a vital piece of our financial needs, as it is what will ultimately sustain us upon moving to Africa. We need more people to step up and commit to supporting our family on a monthly basis. This money will be used for our ministry and travel expenses in country and provide the necessary finances for our family to live in Addis until the Guest House becomes sustainable. Currently we are 28.4% of our goal, and are in need for more people to become burdened with this need.
- One Time Donations. Another important piece to our financial needs is the one time donations. The monies that come in for this area will provide for our moving expenses, necessary immunizations, passports, visas, airplane tickets, etc. We are in need of people to designate giving to this area. Currently we have received 42% of our needed amount.
- Moving Goal. We have spent much time in prayer and have sought the wisdom of our board members regarding the timing of our move to Ethiopia. Several factors have caused us to push the initial goal of January 2014 off (a big one being Habi’s impending adoption). After much discussion, and prayer we all feel at peace about a June 2014 move date. Please pray with us as we press forward toward this goal. This will take intentional planning, and God’s hand in seeing this come to fruition.
- Habi’s Adoption. As we have previously stated, we are currently trying to finalize the adoption of our oldest son, Habi. This has been a long and arduous process, but one that we are committed to. We have filled out and notarized the necessary paperwork for our lawyer to petition the court regarding his case. This was completed prior to Christmas, and we have yet to hear anything. The next few steps will most likely be fingerprinting clearances, and a homestudy. We are praying to be able to update an older homestudy, and we would appreciate your prayer to this end. Accomplishing a new homestudy may be tricky, as we are currently living with Jim’s parents because we sold our home. Please pray for Habi’s heart as this has been a long process for him, and one that we all long to see completed.
- Our Family. Our children have been through a lot this year. We have uprooted them from their home, changed schools, churches, and communities. That in itself is a lot to deal with. We are also not living in our own place, and are planing this big move to Africa. The children have been amazing and resilient, but we would appreciate prayer for their hearts. Please pray that we would not become so focused on the mission before us that we forget these precious souls living with us. Pray that we would be intentionally focused on their needs – both here and in Ethiopia. We ask for prayer that God would continue to unify our family and grow our hearts closer to each other during this process. Please pray for our marriage, that Satan would not get a foot-hold when the stress of what we are trying to accomplish become great.
- Employment for Jim. – As many of you know, Jim has been without full-time employment since last June. This has been a huge financial hardship. He is currently working part time at 30 hours a week for $9.00/hour. While we truly are thankful for this employment, it is not ideal, because of the distance he travels. Please pray with us that a full-time job in this area, with health benefits would open up for him to have until we move. This will greatly help with our goal of moving by June, and it will help with all of the upcoming medical expenses that we will need to take on with the impending move.
- Upcoming Fundraising Opportunities. We are in the process of getting ready to launch some large fundraisers, as well as another t-shirt sale. Details regarding these will be forth-coming. Please pray that people would become excited about these fundraisers, and get behind them with us.
Thank you so much for your continued support of Mercy Branch Inc. We are so thankful for the people God has brought to us. You are invaluable to this work and to our family. Please continue to share our ministry using social media and word-of-mouth. We cannot do this without you.
Here’s to a new year living sold out for our King!