Simply put, Mercy Branch is founded on a dream that there is something we can all believe in. Something good, something right, something just, something worth sacrifice; time, energy, and all the hurts, pains, and joys that accompany it all.
I don’t know exactly when, but at some point after I chose my career, landed my dream job, moved to my next dream job, I realized I was chasing something. I was chasing “something that matters.” I was not selling pencils door to door or trying to escape some other meaningless job that was never going to lead to a career… I was a summer camp director, impacting the lives of teens and young adults; standing as best man or officiating people’s weddings whom I had mentored. I was pastoring and discipling and leading people to Christ and from addiction and pain. But somehow, and I cannot rightly articulate how, God was calling me out of all that and inviting me into something else. It took me a little while to really come to grips with what it was God was calling me into; but ultimately, I founded, together with my wife and our amazing board, Mercy Branch.
Mercy Branch is a melting pot of a few different things, really. It is the comingling of God-sized encounters, boardroom frustrations, dreams, and an aching sense from God. Let me explain:
Most people are aware of the story of my son, Habi. We met him on the streets of Ethiopia while buying some kitsch in the tourist section of the city. It was surreal and frenetic. It was a God-thing. A boy we had not known, but somehow knew was ours. I pledged to him that I would be his father, a promise I neither took lightly, nor understood fully. It was in pursuit of Habi that we gained many relationships and connections in and out of Ethiopia that would allow for Mercy Branch to exist. It was in praying and aching and researching and staying up late and rising early to seek him that we fell in love, not just with him, but with all street boys. It was a question he asked shortly after we thought the fight may be settling down, shortly after he arrived home: “Is it just about me being in this family or is it about my brothers and sisters from the street too?” that helped press the seed of Mercy Branch deeper into our souls. It was this and so much more.
It was our new found love for missions and my agreeing to head up the missions committee. It was a great time of learning and trying to connect with people. It was realizing missions was complex. And… it was seeing people who were doing great things. It was that, and a deep realization that the missions world was shifting. The digital age has come and it has impacted missions in a really great way. There is more opportunity to be connected and together on mission than ever. In addition, the new landscape of missions allows for working together and making connections that were previously only available to the most seasoned and well-connected people, who often found themselves on boards of sending agencies. That is the bright side. The frustrating side was that, in my experience, the missionaries we had worked with did not love the new “invasive” system. A monthly letter was all they wanted, and all they felt they should be responsible to give. While, in their system, they may have been right, it left me wondering what it might look like to set out on international mission with a team of people. What might it look like if some stayed here, and some went there? What might it look like if our supporters knew our struggles and prayed with us? What if the person in a living room stateside knew what we were wrestling with and fasting toward so much that they entered into the fast with us? What if at your office you jumped on Facebook and started crying or jumping for joy because God is good and you know it; because of what you are a part of—Mercy Branch—saw a huge victory!? What if that spilled into sharing with your colleagues about your faith, your God, and this thing with which you are partnered?
It was this, and our dreams, dreams of family for everyone. Dreams that humanity would place an equal value on humanity. That little girls and little boys would be seen and heard, that they would be able to experience childhood. The wild dream that a kid from nowhere would shape the lives of people from everywhere. The dream that everyone is entitled to dignity, a roof over their head, clean water, food, education, joy, peace, and happiness. A dream that others would believe the same dream and give to see that happen.
It was this, and an aching sense from God. A sense that God was calling us into something new, something that would take every life lesson, every personal experience, every gifting, every relationship God gave us to see happen. Something that will take deep sacrifices; but will afford the kind of peace, fulfillment, and joy that we have longed for all our lives.
Mercy Branch is the culmination of more than 30 years of God’s handcrafting souls to come together for such a time as this. I believe with everything that I am that God will use Mercy Branch mightily in this generation. I also believe that Mercy Branch is not just me and my family. It is us: You, me, your family and mine, all invested together for the King and His Kingdom. Perhaps God has been inviting you into this just as He has invited me, my family, our board, and supporters.