Monday, January 27, 2014

Be a part of something bigger part 1

A year and a half ago I wrote this post that is so near and dear to my heart for you for casting vision and living on purpose as a family.  Please read that as the back story for this post.  

God has been stirring in our family for a few years now through that exercise how to live on mission and on purpose as a family.  We were giving to our church, sacrificially, and writing that check each month, but our kids rarely saw us write it, give it, or understand the magnitude of that as a family.  We decided we had to move from check-writing to life-living. God had given us these values (generosity/stewardship, gratitude, humility, faith, and relationships). We were teaching them in our home, conversing about them at dinner, praying for them and through them, using them in discipline. But there was still something missing. We had prayed through our 3 buckets of shared passion that would guide our giving and service (the orphan crisis, the unreached, marriage) but they seemed like these three isolated passions that a check would go to each category at random. We started to pray together that God would fuse all of these together, our values, our shared passions, our check writing and our life-living into something we could all get behind as a family. We prayed for a ministry that we could come behind as a family and give to with our money, pray for with our words, serve with our hands, and engage others with our influence.  This is no small task. We were asking something big of God. We were begging for a new chapter in the story of our families to live on purpose and on mission for God while living in suburban america. Adoption was a part of this but not the fulfillment. God had put adoption on the story of our lives and it was a joy to walk forward in that, but it was not the completion of our purpose and mission here. We saw how praying for Maran and Levi, praying for orphans, praying for people with no access to the Bible changed our kids, our perspectives and our hearts. We didn't want to stop there.
So through several "God" moments and connections we were connected to Care For Aids back in 2012 (You can search my Kenya tab on my blog for stories about our experiences with them). We researched, we leaned in hard, we moved slowly, we prayed, we went with our kids, twice. We got to see both sides of this ministry both here and abroad. 
And then this past year God lined it all up for me in my heart after returning from Kenya with our daughter and friends. This was hitting the orphan crisis right in the face, preventing orphans before their family is torn apart by not only the disease of AIDS but the stigma of it, literally keeping parents alive so they can care for their kids, teaching them hygiene, nutrition, and spiritual strength that they could live and leave a God sized legacy for their children. Care for Aids is ministering to the unreached, the untouchables of their communities, the lepers of their society. They are bringing Jesus where there was once no hope, they are showing Christ where there was once witchcraft or superstition, they are infusing the gospel into families that had given up on God. In addition, this was revolutionizing marriages in kenya. Marriage is even more temporary there than it is here. Men are not equipped to be leaders of their home, faithful to their wives, or committed to their children. Throw in the stigma of AIDS and it is an instant death sentence to a marriage. It turns it into a blame game of who gave it to who, I'm done with you, and ostracizes a spouse not only from the family but a community. I got to personally witness the Kenyan staff meet a major marital dispute right in the middle of abuse and address it with love and grace and truth in a way I have never witnessed before. It was beautiful. 
Now I had perspective, I could see what God had been weaving together all along. Our three shared passions, and given us a way to live those out under the umbrella of our family values in a way our kids could wrap their heads around. It was not words around the dinner table anymore for our kids, it was a relationship, an experience, a connection, a memory. 
Our kids were now giving to a mission, a part of a bigger purpose and story, and putting themselves out there to love others well. They even raised almost 1000$ for the ministry themselves. We moved from check-writing to experiencing God in a different way through being a part of a ministry as a family. This wasn't just "John and I's thing" anymore. Our kids' hearts were in it. Reese cries about wanting to go back. Wheeler asks monthly when he will get to go see his friends in Africa again. Maran asks when it will be her turn to go love on the people of Africa. 
It's not an item on our to do list, it is a joy and a privilege to love and serve God with our family in this way. 
And it is also my hope for you. Not that you just follow me and get on board with Care for Aids, although I would love that! But to really seek out what God wants uniquely of your family. To find something to do with your kids, grandkids, friends, whatever. To not only give but eventually go. It may be Care for Aids, and I would love to facilitate that, it may not be, and thats ok. Or it may be this in the in between time until you find your thing...

But I do have a big God sized dream, and you and your family or small group just may be a part of it. We need each other, I need a community to come around this God sized dream. Pray if God is asking you to be involved, and come back tomorrow for part 2, where the rubber meets the road.... lets do this thing.

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