Thank you for believing in us. It is crazy at times to sit back and realize how many people really do believe in us. We are working really hard to do everything ethically, transparently, and legally. We are trying to maximize our experience, grow from our mistakes, and make the most of our successes. And yet, in all of this, we need people who believe in us.

We recently got our “favorite” kind of feedback: anonymous. I love the people who have just enough courage to type a few words with just too little courage to sign their name to it. However, I have often found that the question they raise may be on the minds of others. So, while I really don’t enjoy recognizing anonymous’ feeble attempt at bullying or discouraging, I honestly do hope this addresses real questions some people may have.

So here is the comment: What experience do you have in running a guest house or training men to be fathers? Should we just support you because you believe god wants you to do something but yet you give no record of success or training in any of these areas.

In regards to experience:

Guest House: I have worked and succeeded in several settings that require management capabilities. Specifically, I believe that my six years as assistant director at a youth camp will be invaluable experience for our future ministry in Ethiopia. It is clear now, looking back, that God was refining and preparing our experiences for His purposes in running and managing a guest house. I have hired, trained and managed employee groups of as few as 15 people and as many as 50. I have not owned a guest home, but I have booked guests, and managed accommodations, meal planning, and program direction for rental groups. I have worked through several inspections and legal requirements in many different venues, been a key part in budget management for non-profit organizations, and cultivated relationships with key individuals to ensure repeat customers and customer growth. Having said this, we do understand that there will certainly be a learning curve to this whole thing, and we are sure there will be growing pains to the process.

Training Men: I, along with my wife, have been for years and are currently in mentoring relationships with men. I have had the opportunity to mentor men from their teens, men much older than me, and men near my age and encourage these men to be courageous leaders in their homes and loving fathers to their children. In my past ministries, as a camp director and pastor, I have effectively counseled men addicted to drugs, pornography, and alcohol to turn from their addiction to Jesus. I have helped impressionable teens work through the challenges they face as teens becoming men, and have helped them navigate these challenges to become the godly fathers the Bible asks them to be. This is an area that in which I am very passionate, and have been for many years. We have also worked very hard at discipling and mentoring our own children – including our oldest, who is a teenage boy from the streets of Addis. Having said this, I recognize that I will be entering an entirely different culture, one that represents an entirely different set of challenges. I do, however, feel as if I have the advantage of having lived the last 18 months with my son, a teenage boy who is working through these same struggles. God has been preparing us for this ministry for many years.

My Training: I have a bachelor’s degree from Baptist Bible College. I graduated with highest honors. My wife has a bachelor’s degree from Baptist Bible College and graduated with high honors. We were then mentored by godly men and women with years of experience in managing and mentoring people.

The Biggest Question: Should we just support you because you believe god wants you to do something but yet you give no record of success or training in any of these areas?


First, because I believe that anyone who partners with us should do so because they believe God (capital G) wants them to be a part of what He has planned in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Yes, I do have a record of success and training that will be valuable tools for me in Ethiopia-but apart from God and His hand in this thing, it will fail. None of this can be accomplished in my strength – or our strength. It must all come from God and His Spirit leading us daily. When I look at men in the Bible, like Moses, it is very clear that he was not trained to cross the Red Sea and lead his people out of captivity. Most would say he was not even qualified, and that my friends, is where God shows up and excels. He makes the weak His tool, and accomplishes His work, getting all of the glory, because without Him it would have been impossible. The same rings true for Joseph in the Old Testament, as he was second in command over Egypt – no training there, and Joseph in the New Testament, as he became the adopted Daddy of the SON OF GOD – no training there, or Joshua who fought the battle of Jericho – no training there either. God uses simple people to accomplish amazing things. I have to trust that, and believe that He desires to do the same with our simple family.

So, no, don’t support Mercy Branch Inc. because of the Darlings and their leading from God, training, or experience… Do it if the Spirit leads you, do it for the King and His Kingdom. Do it only because He has called you to be a part of His story!


  1. Comment by Trey Perrott

    Trey Perrott September 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Jim – I have not followed your current ministry focus in detail, but I wanted to be an encouragement to you in a public arena. Thank-you for discipling me at camp. Thank-you for your relationship with me. Thank-you for your patience with my stubbornness. Thank-you for modeling a passion to help people.

    • Comment by Jim

      Jim September 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Trey. It’s humbling to realize the way God uses broken messes (like me) to showcase His glory. It’s all to His fame.

  2. Comment by Dawn Kicklighter

    Dawn Kicklighter September 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for such a bold response to “anonymous”. You answered the question very well. We are praying for you and will support your family through this process. To God be the glory.

    • Comment by Jim

      Jim September 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you for your support Dawn. God does deserve the glory!

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