Eleven years ago this month, Karen and I took two suitcases, $8,000, and a whole lot of faith and left family, friends, and everything we had ever owned behind us and flew one-way from Dallas to London to Tanzania—where we have lived ever since. We had no denomination or missionary organization supporting us, we had a few friends, a couple of small churches, our Social Security payments, and our retirement income to live on with which to establish a mission, build a home, build a mission, dig a well, build guest cottages, and whatever else we needed. My retirement wouldn’t kick in for another three years and my Social Security wouldn’t become active for another year, so our income was fairly sparse at first. We had no real agenda except to help the church, expand the Kingdom of God, and to help and teach whomever we could wherever we could. There were some strong souls who believed and had faith in us (Martha McCandless was a blessing) and supplied us with the money we needed for a well, an assembly hall, and half of the house (we paid for the other half) in which we still live, adding John to our little family in 2006. He came for a one week visit and is still here helping with solar projects, free computers for schools, deep-water wells, soccer fields for our churches, teaching sanitation and hygiene, and helping almost all the other missionaries with their computers (not to mention some local companies as well). We rented a house for the first six months while ours was being built then moved in and discovered how much we had been cheated by the builder and had to spend another $5,000 fixing sub-standard electric work, doors, and windows. We later had to do the same with the Assembly Hall we call Martha’s Place for the builder cheated us on materials and poor work. Several years later, we would have another builder (one we trusted) steal several thousand dollars and run away leaving the building unfinished. In every single case, when we needed money to fix things (or ourselves), individuals and churches in the United States came through and covered what we needed. In eleven years here, we have never had all we wanted, but we have always had all we needed and then some.
Our faith in God and His children is as strong now as it was in 2005 having never faltered. Karen and I both faced life-ending medical emergencies that required being flown to Nairobi, Kenya, and, with no insurance, having family and friends provide all the thousands of dollars we needed for our medical bills. We live on a fixed income in a society that does not have fixed prices—everything goes up. Still, we have that faith that starts up the stairs when we can’t even see the whole staircase. It’s not faith if you keep one foot on the ground and will only put one up on the ladder. Faith is when you put both feet on the ladder and start climbing because that’s what God has asked of you. We’ve done a lot of climbing, a lot of teaching, a lot of healing, a lot of loving, a lot of forgiving, and we’ve been feeding orphans every day for over seven years and operating one school for eleven years and another for seven right here on our grounds. We’ve been persecuted by other Christians, by Methodists from other countries, and by medical problems, but have conquered them all because we just put all our problems in God’s hands—and He delivers. We still don’t know what lies ahead, but we know as long we keep our faith in Him, He will provide whatever we need to continue to serve His children here. We do without a ton of stuff the first world thinks of as givens, but we are surrounded by love and prayers from family, friends, Christians from all over the world, some select United Methodist Churches in Arkansas, and churches from other denominations in other states. We, personally, do not deserve all the blessings we have been given, but then who does? We simply said, “Here we are, send us.” God does not abandon those who love and serve Him, and we are safe in His arms, no matter what. We still need help from others in other parts of the world on an almost monthly basis, but those people who know our hearts have always been there for us. God puts the right people in the right places—always. We have suffered here, and we have rejoiced here, and through it all, our faith in God has never wavered, nor will it.
And you can take that to the bank.