The Struggle is Real.

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Fundraising!!!!!! For those that have been involved in any sort of fundraising you know how challenging it can be. It can even been down right awkward. I have been through many challenging times in my life including Marine Corp boot camp and I have to say that raising money to go out as missionaries to Guatemala is hands down the toughest thing that I have ever had to do. One of the hardest struggles to overcome in fundraising is not that people don’t want to give, it’s that we don’t want to ask.

As a man, asking for any sort of help is hard. The stereotype of men driving around lost thinking the directions will come to us rather then asking for help is real life! Asking for help is a tough thing for our egos to do.

Asking for financial support is even harder, and often while raising support I am limited by my own weakness to overcome the awkwardness I feel in asking for financial donations. It has also been one of the most rewarding and humbling times of my life. I’ve learned that God doesn’t always call the equipped, but he always equips the called. I know that my family is called to Guatemala to make a difference for His kingdom and I trust that God will provide the means necessary to get there. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to work for it, but through our work we have seen people’s hearts open up with generosity and it has been truly an amazing experience to be apart of. The relationships that have been formed and strengthened through the experience of raising financial support are incredible and we know that we are not in this alone.

 We have an army of support behind us and in addition to their finances, they are covering us in prayer and encouragement that will be a vital part in our time as missionaries.

Along the way, I’ve had to overcome my fear of asking for financial donations. One instance that I needed to do this yielded quite an incredible story of the way God can work through any type of connection. While I was fundraising for my first week-long mission trip in 2013, I was struggling to send my fundraising e-mail to a business connection that kept coming to my mind. I didn’t know how appropriate it would be, considering the business aspect, but I just couldn’t get out of my mind the words “who am I to say no for someone?” Finally, I worked up the nerve to send the e-mail, and I received a reply that could have only been the work of God connecting the pieces.

As it turned out, Guatemala holds a special place in this woman’s heart, as she had adopted her son from there! That trip, and each subsequent trip after, she has been a very generous contributor and continues help support our calling in Guatemala! Now that we are moving there, she plans to come visit with her son! It will be his first time to see his birth country, and we look forward to showing them around the City of Hope.

It is in the incredible connections like these that I hear God whispering in my ear Matthew 6:26:

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

I know that God has a big story to write in Guatemala, I know that he wants to use in this story and through partnerships with people like YOU, He will make that happen!

It’s only fitting that this blog post about generosity comes the day after God gave his most generous gift to us! The resurrection story is the most important chapter in the good news of the Gospel. Was this generosity expensive? Of course it was. It cost Jesus everything to make it happen. Now my family has a part to play as God is writing our chapter in the story. Raising financial support is allowing us to help carry the Gospel across country lines as commanded in the great commission and we are asking for you to join us in this!

Next Steps:

There are many ways that you can join our financial support team.

Our biggest need is monthly donations. Our family is leaving our jobs and security in Alpharetta, GA and taking volunteer positions at Hope for Guatemala. We need monthly donations to for basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, and food. We have a budget that we would love to share with you if you would like that shows where 100% of our monthly donations will be going. One time donations are also always appreciated. This money will go towards up front expenses from travel, securing a home, and a car in Guatemala!

From now until April 15th you can purchase an awesome t-shirt we designed ourselves!  100% of the profits from these shirts will help fund our trip. They come in both unisex and women’s fit styles and in various colors. Please click HERE to purchase one of these shirts.

Finally, we’re excited to announce we will be holding a Cornhole Tournament on Saturday April 30th starting at 2 pm at Stonecreek Church. We will offer prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place along with having raffle drawings throughout the day for amazing prizes. The cost is $25 per person, or $50 per team. We also need some volunteer help to make this event a success. Please click HERE to sign up as a player (either individual or team of 2) or volunteer. We will have more information on this event available in the coming weeks.

Thank you!

Brad

 

Jose Armas-Director of Hope for Guatemala

 

We would love for you to take a little time out of your day and check out this 5 minute video from Jose Armas. For those that don’t know Jose is the director of Hope for Guatemala, the ministry that our family will be serving while in Guatemala.  Jose has an amazing vision and is very passionate for following the calling that God has placed on him to help break cycles and make the Guatemala of tomorrow a better place.

 

We are currently selling tshirts under the menu button there is a link to take you to the site.  If you purchase one in the remainder of this month we will enter your name into a raffle to win a cool prize. (comment on this post once the purchase is made to be entered)  100% of the profits from the tshirt sales will be going to our fundraising campaign.

We are also still in need of monthly supporters willing to commit to the next 18 months and as always your one time donations are always appreciated.

Thank you

Brad

Fathers.

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“Some people don’t believe in Superheros, but they never met my dad.”

In writing some thoughts about a father, or not having a father, I feel as though I’m writing about a superhero. For me, a father was nothing more than a character in a fairy tale. Unlike Superheros in comic books, I know fathers actually exist. I have seen them on television and sliding their arms around their wives in grocery stores, and I have seen them in the malls and in the coffee shops, but these were characters in other people’s stories, not mine.

My father was a good man, but a bad father. My father was absent for as much of my life that I can remember. His body was present but I never received his attention, praise, or affection.  My father wasn’t abusive, he wasn’t even mean he was actually a very pleasant and charming man, he was just bad at family! He was so introverted that he disconnected himself from everything enjoying things that he could do in solitude like fishing and hunting.  The average day in my early childhood involved my dad coming home and sitting in his chair or him retreated to his backroom only to come out for dinner and to go to bed.

This eventually lead to my parents’ broken marriage that ended in divorce and the time I spent with my dad continued to dwindle through the years. He never came to the events that mattered to me.  I remember I use to see fathers playing catch with their sons in the front yard and it would bring me to tears as that is what I yearned for.  I also made a promise to not follow the footsteps of my own father and to be the father that I always wanted. I want to be a Superhero to my children.  I believe that God allowed me this experience with my own father to gain a heart of compassion for other fatherless children!

In Guatemala, where my family will be serving, the fatherless are many and the ones that do have adult male influences in their life are not positive ones.  Personally I believe this is the main contributor to the poverty, alcohol use, physical abuse, and the continually repeated cycle of fatherless children. During my third trip to Hope For Guatemala I had the opportunity to give my testimony to a group of the teenagers and this experience is when God spoke to me through my own story, forever changing how I look at the fatherless.

The night before I gave my testimony, I was preparing what I was going to say. I planned to relate to the children on the connection of having a father that was not there for me. The next morning I was awoke to an almost audible message from God, a simple but powerful message of Romans 8 was circling in my head. I grabbed my Bible and headed to a private area and opened to read. It was here my mindset changed as I read Romans 8:15:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’

It hit me hard that God did not want me to find common ground with these kids through our lost earthly fathers. He wanted me to find common ground with these kids through having the same father, a perfect father in Heaven. When I told my story through this mindset I found myself growing closer to my perfect father and in turn it gave me a greater passion to show others without a father that they in fact have an amazing, perfect father.

It was during this trip that I got to pray for a woman during a home visit who was struggling to leave her abusive husband.  When she found out who I was her face lit up and she said her daughter looked up to me like a father. These were powerful words that brought me to tears, know that all the kids served by the ministry want is to be loved. Through God putting his spirit in me to love these kids, this little girl saw me like a dad!

Last week on my visit to Hope For Guatemala, I was reminded of God’s truth again. When thinking through what this blog post was going to be about, I was drawing blanks. But it hit me as I looked back through some photos from the week. I had the opportunity to go on this trip with some amazing fathers to their own children, but when I looked at some of the images that I captured I saw something. It was in the way that these kids looked at these amazing men of God, they had a look of love, a look of admiration, they looked onto these men as if they were looking at Superheros!

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I am truly blessed to have served with this amazing group of Superheros. Through God’s love we were able to love these kids as they were our own. I personally was refreshed to know and to be affirmed that one of my purposes as my family steps into the mission field is to not only be a father figure to these kids, but also point them in the direction of the father that we all have and share and show them his perfect love.  In doing this, God will produce fruits that will change generations and break cycles of fatherlessness in Guatemala.

Brad

 

Fear fighting.

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So there’s those nights. You know the ones. The ones where worry and fear put you in a chokehold and keep you penned. Enjoying control the way I do, I fight. I fight back against fear and worry, but the more I fight the tighter fear grips me. It’s in those moments where God is so patient with me. He waits off to the side carefully watching my fight, asking me to give up, to give it over to him. In these moments God is teaching me how to tap out in the fight with fear.

Through the process of getting ready to move to Guatemala, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some wicked fights with fear. I have moments where I lay awake at night.

What if the passports don’t come in time? What if we don’t raise enough support to even go? What if when we get there we don’t have enough support each month? What if I get lonely in a country away from my friends? What if my kids cry and ask to come home? What will we do when we miss our family? What if I’m a hot mess all the time? (which won’t actually be a change for me) 

The more I allow the “what if’s” to circle in my head, the tighter the chokehold fear has on me. But I love the way the Lord waits for me to come to Him. I love the words of Moses in Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Oooo how I hate to be still, God. Let ME win this battle! 

Somehow I realize that fighting back only acknowledges fear’s power over me. I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power and love and self-control” and I remember that fear has no power over a spirit-filled child of God.

I think of Philippians where Paul tells the church not to be anxious but give thanks in everything, making all of your needs made known to God. I’m overwhelmed with joy when I remember that our God is a loving father who wants the best for us. He brings to mind Romans 8:28, and promises me over and over again that he works all things for my good.

He promises me that he’s got a grip on my family, a hug of safety. Ever more gentle and loving than the chokehold I allowed fear to take. And when I remember His grip, I reach out my hand to God’s embrace that has been waiting for me ring-side. Fear slowly loosens, and I’m granted that peace. You know the peace I’m talking about. The peace you have when you’re not supposed to have peace. That peace when everything around screams for you to be afraid, yet all you can hear is the quiet reassurance of your Father. Even this, my child, I will work for your good. Yeah that peace.

I met a friend for coffee last week, and we talked about how good God is in our lives, and I asked her to support us in our journey to Guatemala. As we talked, she recalled a situation in which all the pieces fit together and we both agreed that it had to be the Lord at work. She told me “Becca, for a split second I thought maybe it was a coincidence, but it was just too much like God.” That phrase really stuck with me this week in my moments of doubt. I looked back all of my battles with fear, the times where I lost the fight, and the times when I set my pride aside and finally tapped out. There was one night in particular a couple of weeks ago that I woke up in fear at 3 am and was overcome. I asked God to remind me of His calling, and the next day FOUR more families joined our support team. That’s just too much like God. 

We’ve had too many of these moments not to trust His faithfulness. We’ve had too many instances of seeing Him peek through and feeling Him wink to doubt his goodness. Are you fighting with fear today? I urge you to tap out. Together let’s step into that spirit of power we’re promised and strip fear of its chokehold by reaching for our Father’s gentle grip. Let’s stand on each other’s behalf to proclaim Gods truth and watch as fear runs in defeat!

Becca

 

God gives me my purpose.

Tomorrow I leave to go on my 5th short term mission trip to Hope for Guatemala. I have the honor of co-leading an adult/medical trip and I am excited to visit what will soon be my new home – Zone 18 of Guatemala City! Every trip is different and every one brings about different emotions. As I prepare to go back this week, I’ve been reflecting on my first time in Guatemala, a trip that really changed my life. It was the first time in my walk with God that I heard so clearly what my purpose was.

In fall of 2013, I was asked by one of my great friends and mentors Chris Crutchley to join him and a great group of men on an October trip to Hope for Guatemala. When I agreed, I was excited to get to travel abroad with a group of extraordinary men build some stuff, and play with kids. Looking back, I see that God had bigger things in store for me! On this trip I gained a new nickname, formed some unforgettable relationships, and experienced many eye opening things.

As the week progressed, many of the guys on the trip started calling me Oso Blanco (white bear), the nickname of an Atlanta Braves baseball player. The kids picked up on the nickname and adopted it. To this day I am known as Oso at Hope for Guatemala. Most of the kids and teenagers don’t even know that my name is Brad! When Becca visits, they even call her Esposa de Oso (Oso’s wife).

On the second day of that trip, my heart was totally captured in a way that I never thought was possible. I completely fell in love with a tiny girl who could barely hold a broom but fervently swept the dining area. At not even 2 years old, Dulce had such determination and spirit. Every time I tried to call her over she would smile and run away from me, teasing me! After a couple hours of this back and forth game, she finally jumped into my arms, and each day I held her until she had to go home. God worked through this little girl to soften my heart in a way that I had never experienced before. The way she loved me unconditionally, without even understanding my words or knowing my name was truly an incredible experience that only compares to the love of my own family. On my last trip, after several years of seeing each other occasionally, she actually cried as we parted ways at the end of the week. I can’t wait to see Dulce in a couple of days, and once again hold her in my arms!

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Another special relationship I formed that week was with Don Ricardo, an older volunteer of the ministry. I worked alongside him most of the week and even though we couldn’t understand each other’s language, we communicated in a way that only God could have perpetrated. Together we worked on construction at the newly acquired City of Hope, a large farm property in the middle of Zone 18. We laughed at each other’s jokes, and we built a special bond that week, much like that of a father and son.

 

Towards the end of the week, I got the chance to play a part in a story that changed the trajectory of the ministry for years to come. God used me in a way I had never experienced before. Up until October 2013, I’m sure God was at work in me, but I hadn’t ever really seen myself involved in the middle of a story He was orchestrating.

On Wednesday of that week, Don Ricardo took 3 of us guys out into the fields at City of Hope to pick about 50 pounds of the amazingly delicious fruit that grows on the property. It was quite an adventure cutting down bananas with a machete!

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The security guard on the property at the time worked for the landowners, not the Hope for Guatemala ministry, and Hope for Guatemala was only allowed to use a small amount of the land. When we returned from collecting the fruit, that security guard decided to contact the landowner and report that we had “stolen” fruit from them. The landowners immediately contacted Jose and they agreed to meet at City to discuss the matter. One of the landowners arrived and Jose walked her through what had been her childhood home to show her all of the work the ministry was doing. On their tour, they came to the room our team had worked diligently at remodeling that week, and as it turned out, this very room was this particular landowner’s childhood bedroom! Through seeing the use of her room to bless the children of Guatemala, and in talking with Jose, her heart was softened and she extended grace to the ministry. She investigated the security guard and found that HE was the one who had been stealing. Through this experience, she decided to give Jose and Hope for Guatemala access and use of the rest of the 50 acres as he saw fit!! 2 years later, the ministry is celebrating as they are becoming a self-sufficient farm!!

 

In a situation that could have been devastating to the ministry, God aligned details perfectly to carry out His plan. I was completely humbled to see God allow a broken sinner like myself to be a part of this story. We never would have known that us “stealing” fruit would play such a large part in the story of City of Hope. I learned a lot about the way God works through this story, and it opened my eyes to how God could continue to use me in this place.

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This first trip was the beginning of this crazy idea of moving my family to Guatemala City. God planted this seed in my heart in October 2013, and the harvest will come in June of this year.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and allowing me to share with you the love I have for Hope for Guatemala.

Brad

Spirit lead me.

In the fall of 2013 Brad took his first mission trip to Zone 18 of Guatemala City, Guatemala. He witnessed poverty-stricken families who, only through God’s grace, maintained a sense of joy unlike anything he had ever seen. He fell in love with children who didn’t speak his language but somehow could feel that he loved them. He returned with 3 important things- a broken heart, a new name (more about that later), and a new calling on his life. Brad came back from Guatemala as an international missionary.

To call us international missionaries almost seems laughable. Me? Travel to a foreign place, leave my children (or take them!) for an extended period of time? Ha! Several months after Brad’s first trip, he told me God wanted us to go to serve in Guatemala as a family, for an extended period. I heard that and I thought he had lost his mind!

Over the next months, God did a work in my heart. One morning in church, my dear friend Jacqi led our congregation in one of my favorite worship songs. We sang a reference to the story in the Bible of Peter walking on the water. Singing that song that day had a new meaning to me. I was already tearing up when the chorus came.

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As I sang those lines, I heard God’s voice questioning me. “Do you really desire for me to lead you where your trust is without borders? Will you walk on any waters I lead you to? Do you desire to go deeper with me? Will you let your feet wander?” In that moment, my heart was broken. I recalled a verse from Psalm 51: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me”. I went back to the day I dedicated my life to the Lord, and I reminisced about the moments I promised Him I would do anything for Him. It was then, I realized that for years the borders of my trust had laid hand in hand with the borders of my comfort zone- the borders of Alpharetta, GA. I realized that God was calling me to break those borders, fly across waters, and let my feet wander down a new and, to be honest, frightening path. As the song says “there I find You in the mystery”. I now know that God is bringing my family on a journey to meet him in Guatemala and get to know a new side of Him we wouldn’t be able to see if we didn’t answer His call.

In July of 2015 this call was made clear after months of prayer and very very wise counsel. Now we’re preparing for the journey of a lifetime. In just 3 short months we will resign from our positions, sell or pack up everything we own, and fly away from our comfort zone to a foreign land. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. God has been faithful to remind us of His promises and we know he has quite the adventure ahead of us. We’re honored God has allowed us to participate in His work, and we feel very blessed to know YOU are along for the ride too!

Becca