We know what, now 'whom'? (Stephen)

First of all, I want to thank everyone who committed in praying with and for Kari and me as we partook in this fast these past 10 days! This was the second time that Kari and I did this type of fast, but this time seemed much harder, and this one was shorter than our first one! These 10 days were challenging in every aspect. The toughest part wasn’t the hunger or what I couldn’t eat, for some reason that wasn’t the hard part last time either. The hardest part was the waiting! Waiting on what God was going to reveal to us. Needless to say, God answered our prayers and revealed direction as well as opened doors for ministry opportunities and connections to further His Kingdom.

As you may now know, our direction in ministry has changed from serving with Open Arm Foundation and working with the street kids at the Boys’ Farm in San Pedro, to holding sports camps for the local kids to have fun and be kids and organizing community events as an opportunity to connect families with local churches. Now that we had the “What”, we were waiting for the “With Whom”. As Kari and I were fasting, praying, and seeking God to reveal to us “With Whom”, He began to show us, once again, just how Awesome He truly is!

A few days into our fast, Kari had received an email from a friend stating that she had a family friend who lives here in Colombia, and just resigned to be here another two years. Our first thoughts were, Wow, what are the odds that a friend from back home knowing someone else who lives here in Colombia! That was just the beginning.

The following morning, I received an email from a gentleman in McKenzie, TN who was looking for an opportunity for a coaching ministry, he also happens to the Chaplin of Athletics for Bethel University, TN. In his email he mentioned that he had got my information from one of our partner ministries in the States, SkillzDr, and wanted to if I knew of any openings available. I responded and told him about our ministry here and how we’re holding a sports camp in January. He thought it was a great idea and now he’s promoting it to the athletic teams at Bethel University! Isn’t God great?! But, it doesn’t end there. It just gets better!

The very SAME day, I went out to Bello, the barrio where we’ve partnered with an existing sports ministry, to run through some SAQ (Speed, Agility, and Quickness) drills with the coaching staff. As I was getting ready to set up, this guy comes up to me and says “Hey, did you go to Liberty (University)?” I wasn’t sure if I was more surprised that he spoke English or that he knew of Liberty. I started talking with him and found out that he’s an American from Dallas (Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is Colombian here, because even if they’re white, they still could be a local) who just graduated from Texas Tech and came to Colombia to help with this sports ministry in Bello for the next month. He had saw my Liberty gym bag and knew of Liberty because the company that he had interned with his last semester, a sports agency, represents two former Liberty alumni who are now in the NFL. Also, come to find out that one of his brothers is in the NFL and plays for the Detroit Lions and another one sells sports equipment, particularly SAQ equipment! We exchanged information and he said that he’ll tell his brothers about our ministry and see what they can do to help us out.

Later on that week, our Missionary friends just came back from the States and we had them over for dinner. We started talking to them about our new direction in ministry and asked them if we could possibly partner up when teams come to visit and be interpreters or be apart as much or as little as they wanted. They both agreed that it was a great idea and that it would be beneficial for their ministry as well. Two days later, I meet a girl from West Virginia who is volunteering with Open Arms Foundation. As we talked, I learned that she goes to North Greenville University, the same school that both my brothers and my sister-in-law graduated from, small world! Also, she’s on the soccer team and I told her about our sports camp in January and she said that She would definitely come back for that as well as bringing a few teammates and her coached along with her!

It is just so amazing how God knows our needs and how He knows just when to provide for our needs. With that said, since coming to Colombia, Kari and I have found it very difficult and challenging to get work done efficiently, especially when we don’t speak Spanish. We kept throwing out the idea that we need to find someone who is bilingual and has a heart for missions and Colombia. During a conversation with Bill recently, he mentioned to me that he had received and email from a young woman, who once worked with Open Arms Foundation a few years back, who was wanting to move back to Colombia and work for the ministry in November. Since Open Arms no longer having the type of ministry that they once did when she was here last, Bill told her about our ministry and is looking forward in meeting with us to see where we can have her help. She attached her resume with her email and come to find out that she’s from Greenville, SC and went to a Christian University. She’s bilingual and has experience as an administrative assistant.

Coincidence? Absolutely NOT! I believe that each one of these encounters were specifically orchestrated to demonstrate God’s perfect timing. In a city of more than 3.8 million people, God knew that we only needed a select few to connect with, to send a ripple effect for His glory.

Through this fast, I was constantly reminded of Matthew 6:33. This is a verse that most know by heart and almost all of us overlook the importance of what is being said. Prior to this verse, Jesus is acknowledging that we have needs and He’s telling us that God knows every single one of them. Then Jesus goes on and flat out tells us what we need to do in order for our needs to be met. We need to SEEK God and He will provide for ALL of our needs, not wants! This fast was a great reminder that God knows exactly what we need and wants to provide for us through our obedience. What is God trying to reveal through you? Seek Him and find out!

Fast, Pray, and Seek (Stephen)

For the past 38 days, even though we are in new surroundings, God never fails to be the constant in our lives.  I’m going to be honest, not every day has been a joy, but it’s the little victories that come about, almost out of nowhere, that keep pushing us forward.

For the past couple weeks, Kari and I have been praying about the ministry that God has sent us here for.  When we had first got here, we met with the founder of Open Arms Foundation, Bill, he told us that the direction of their foundation was about to change.  For the most part, the reason why we thought we were coming here; to work with the street kids/boys at the farm, was not going to be a possibility.  The foundation had underwent a restructuring in the programs, and due to lack of funding they were forced to close the boys farm.

This left a huge opening of uncertainties. Trusting that God has called us here for a specific reason, we looked at the possibility of allowing our ministry to take form.  Bill offered his assistance in focusing on ONE Ministry Foundation- Uniting the communities and engaging youth AND their families, through the platform of sports.

Bill gave us a contact in an outlying city, Bello.  A man named Mark has already established a sports ministry there.  Kari and I were able to meet with Mark, at his facility.  He told us the story/history of his ministry and we were able to see what it has become. God had turned an empty lot into a top caliber sports facility.  Where more than 3000 kids, from across 26 sectors, come to play soccer!  The outcome of our meeting was that he is willing (and excited) to partner with us for future events and ministry opportunities!

Last night, I was reminded of why we are here. Kari and I both were awaken around 2:30AM. We both felt very uneasy and felt a very dark presence that seemed to be lurking around. I started to pray over the both of us and for our children. That’s when we both realized that we have stepped onto a battlefield and we have engaged in WAR with the enemy! This is very real proof and confirmation that God is moving here in Medellin, in the ministry, and through us!

Today, Kari and I were reading through one of our devotions and God just spoke Loud and Clear. This is what it said:

Draw near to ME with a thankful heart, aware that your cup is overflowing with blessings. Gratitude enables you to perceive ME more clearly and rejoice in our Love-relationship. Nothing can separate you from My loving Presence! That is the basis of your security. Whenever you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your security rests in ME alone, and I am totally trustworthy.

           You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust in My control. Instead of striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle, seek to know Me in greater depth and breadth. I long to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must stop clinging to old ways. I am always doing something new within My beloved ones. Be on the lookout for all that I have prepared for you.”

So refreshing, reassuring, and convicting all at the same time! My constant prayer is that I will get out and stay out of the way of what God is doing.

With all that is going on, especially with spiritual warfare, Kari and I believe that God is calling us to fast, pray, and seek Him for 10 daysstarting Wednesday, July 8th. We are not asking for anyone to do the actual fast with us, unless you want to, but to engage and commit to praying with us and for us during the 10 days. We are asking that you commit to a specific time to pray for;

  • To seek God’s will for ONE Ministry Foundation.
  • For discernment when meeting with people for possible partnerships.
  • For the youth, and their families, that we will encounter in this ministry.
  • For our FIRST EVER incoming Mission Trip/Strive Sports Camp, which will be January 2-9, 2016. (More details to come).

Our goal is to have these 10 days to be completely covered in prayer.  Please let us know the time you will commit to, and for how long (specific hours, days or each day).  We know God is going to do BIG things here in Medellin.  Thank you for being a part of it, too.