Let’s play some Corn Hole!

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Join us April 30th at 2 pm at Stonecreek Church Side Lawn for a Corn-hole Tournament!

All proceeds go towards our fundraising efforts! We are less than 2 months away from flying out to Guatemala to serve with our partnership organization, Hope for Guatemala, and we need your help to get there!

Registration is $25 per team. At the tournament you can expect cash prizes for the top teams, a raffle drawing for some awesome prizes, food, music, and a very special guest – Jose Armas (founder of Hope for Guatemala)! Come join us for a fun afternoon!

How can you help? Our greatest need at this time is for teams to play! Players can be any age, gender, and ability – this is family friendly fun for all ages! In order to create a tournament bracket, we need you to register ASAP! More details on how you can help are on the registration form.

To register to play and get more details, please fill out the form here!

THANK YOU!!!

Brad and Becca

 

Looking in the Mirror.

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As we approach the 50 day mark until my family embarks on this life changing journey, I have been spending some time processing through the question of “why?” Why did God choose us to do this? Why me? What is it about this country, this city, that totally grasped my heart and has not let go? As an introvert I process everything internally, and it usually takes time. I have been processing these questions over the past several months through the busyness of preparing to move a family out of the country.

When I think about it, I am completely humbled and sometimes even confused at how God can use someone like me for His glory. The conclusion I’ve reached through my thought process is that when I look at Guatemala City I see a reflection of myself, or better yet the person I was before I began to follow Jesus. When most people think of Guatemala City (especially Zone 18), they see chaotic, dirty streets and angry, dangerous people. I think the same adjectives could be used to describe me before Jesus became the light in my dark life. Before I met my bride-to-be, I lived life very selfishly, and I was reckless – with my body, my mind, and my heart.

Looking back I see that in times that I thought I was flying, I was actually falling. Sometimes the only way to tell the difference is when you hit the ground.

Luckily I never had to go that far down to realize that my life was going in the wrong direction. I was looking for approval, acceptance, and love in places that could never truly give me any of these things. I drank too much, played around with drugs, and viewed women as conquests. I can say these things without fear knowing that I have been redeemed from sin’s hold on my life. I am unashamed of my story because it’s the story of God at work.

I am reminded of Romans 1:16: “I want to preach it because I’m not ashamed of the good news. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes.” I was a wreck and headed for destruction. There is no way my story could have ended well as long as I was in control. Luckily God had other plans to use my story for his good.

I met Becca in 2006 and the next year we had our son Bryce. Our relationship at the beginning was focused solely on ourselves and our selfish desires. Even though our son was created through a sinful act outside of God’s will, God showed me that He can turn all things for His good and that is truly what He did.

The birth of my son was the event that really started to turn my life around. I was not perfect by any means. I struggled with my past, and will always struggle with certain things. But if I had to mark a moment that my life changed it was when I became a father.

During Bryce’s early years, we explored some churches and nothing really fit until we happened into the doors of Stonecreek Church in Milton, GA. Something was different about this place. It was one of the few places we spent time at that we never felt like people were looking at us in judgement, but instead we were welcomed with hugs and love. A short time after we starting attending regularly, the senior pastor, Steven Gibbs, talked through a marriage series and through his message he really set the ground work for the spouse that I wanted to be. I began to discover that this place was truly different and I wanted more of what they had! In the coming days, weeks, years, this place has become our home.

At Stonecreek I learned that being a Christian man does not mean I become weak, but rather that Christian men are warriors with strength and purpose!

It was through Stonecreek that I went on my first mission trip to Guatemala in 2013, with a group of mostly men, then through this trip God sparked a fire that is now leading us to Guatemala full time! What I saw in Guatemala was really a lot of what I saw in myself. On the surface there is a lot of scars left from fatherless children, abuse, drug use, alcohol abuse, poverty, violence, and death. But in the midst of all of this, I saw beauty, charm, hard work, joy, faith, and most importantly HOPE. Not just any hope, but the hope that only the love of Jesus brings, the hope that brought living water to the woman at the well. The hope that rescued me from my life of darkness and destruction. The hope that brings purpose to my story.

God has called me to Guatemala to fulfill this purpose. When I see Guatemala I see a lot of myself – dirty, broken, and dark. But I also see a light in Guatemala, and in myself, that is bright. The light of God’s truth is shining in darkness – repairing the brokenness, cleansing the dirty, and bringing everlasting hope.

Through my time serving at Hope for Guatemala, I have seen how God’s love has worked through this organization to produce little lights that are being sent out on mission in Zone 18. The kids and young adults served by the ministry are shedding the light of Jesus in their city. I see this same light in myself now when I look in the mirror and it is because of Jesus. To quote the Gospel poet Lecrae, “In what other story does the hero die so the villains can live?” This is exactly what we experience with the grace that Jesus provides. I believe that God’s plan is perfect and everything that has happened in my life has been to prepare me for this adventure He is leading my family on. God has a purpose for all of our lives and he works all things for our good (Romans 8:28), sometimes you just have to take some time to reflect. You just have to look in a mirror to see it.

Brad

 

Danger zone.

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We talk to a lot of people about Guatemala. The subject of moving to another country on mission comes up in almost all of my conversations recently. People ask me if I’m nervous or excited. They ask how Bryce (my 8-year-old) is feeling about the move. People truly care how we’re doing and it’s nice when people ask. But there’s one question that I get from time to time that makes me squirm a little – the question of safety. Although we will be living in a safer area, Guatemala City’s Zone 18 (where we will be working) is not a safe place. I often have people ask me how I could take my children there.

Aren’t you scared? What if something happens? Why would you do that?

One person even said to me “You live in one of most well-respected, safest, most comfortable cities in Georgia, why would you want to leave?” It’s true. The area we live in is one of the highest ranked for safety and enjoyment in the southeastern United States. It’s very comfortable. My home is comfortable. Bryce’s school is comfortable. Our lifestyle of baseball games on weekends, nights out with friends, date nights, TV shows, unlimited wifi, home cooked meals, and as much clean water as our hearts desire – it’s all really dang comfortable and, honestly, sometimes I want to stay. Some moments I think about the fact that all we would have to do is say “never mind we’re not going”, and I could stay home. I’m not going to lie to you, there are fleeting moments where that thought is tempting. I’ll miss my home, my friends, my ease of life.

But I’ve realized something quite significant over the past season of walking this journey. God has taught me (or at least tried to teach me) that the most dangerous place is not Zone 18 of Guatemala City – the most dangerous place I could be is trapped in the middle of my comfort zone.

Recently I watched a video where a professor was explaining how a lobster has to slough off it’s shell and grow a new one in order to thrive and grow. The same thing is true with snails, snakes, and many other creatures. When a lobster has to go hide under a rock and rip it’s shell from it’s naked body and put itself in that moment of complete vulnerability, with no safety net, it certainly can’t be comfortable. But this is a natural progression of it’s life cycle. Without taking off that shell and growing a new one, the lobster will begin to suffocate, shrivel up and die. I know this is a pretty morbid picture to explain my point. But, friends, are we not the same as the lobster? Without some sort of stretching, a challenge to the spirit, our souls will shrivel up. God has created us for more than settling into a valley of comfort surrounded by mountainous walls that keep out any view of new opportunities. God has created us to GO. To DO. To love and to serve and to put our own self-interest out of the way for his mission to be accomplished.

26…anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. 27 And anyone who wants to be first must be your slave.28 Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”

-Matthew 20:26-28 (NIRV)

Of course, quitting your job and moving your family to another country may not be the way God is asking you to step out. For my family it IS, but it may be something different for you. It may be as simple as opening your home to a child in need of one. It won’t be comfortable. They will eat all of your food, and run up your water bill, and not understand all of your rules. But you could give them the type of love no one else ever has. For you it may be taking what feels like a demotion at work. You may make less money, and have to cut back on shopping or hobbies, but maybe you’ll have more hours at home with your family. It may be waking up earlier in the morning to start your day with scripture, or budgeting a financial giving plan with your spouse, or maybe just going to church every once in a while. Whatever the shell is that you have outgrown, don’t be afraid to put yourself in those moments of vulnerability so that your soul can stretch, thrive, and learn to serve. All God asks is for us to take that next step into that new shell and continue to grow. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, but it’s so worth it.

My dear friend Erin Armas (the wife of Hope for Guatemala’s founder) once said to me, through the sounds of both of us crying, “Becca there is no better place to be than the center of God’s will for your life.” For this next season of our lives, Zone 18 of Guatemala City is the center of God’s will for my family. There’s no better place for us to be.

Becca