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Our team's mission.

We are continually grateful for all of our Journey interns, who have tirelessly served in many different communities, schools, and homes all to help us transform  lives, empower generations, and restore communities back to God. While all of our interns participate in similar travel plans, God has each of them on a personal and intimate journey in their own walks with The Lord. Here are some thoughts from Antonio on his Journey. Enjoy! https://vimeo.com/100426513/

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For the past two months I have had the opportunity to serve alongside some of the most amazing warriors of Christ I have ever met. One of the things that I love about our team is that we are constantly offering grace to one another. God gives us his grace daily so that we may live a life that is freely surrendered to his will. When our team gives grace to each other, it is a reminder of how much God loves each of us and how he continually offers his free grace to us. Even more, I love that we do not press each other forward in ways that meet our own desires, but we press one another towards the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God that lives in each and every one of us. So, to sum up in words all that God has been doing in our hearts is not an easy thing, however it has been simply amazing. Yes God called us to come here and share his Gospel, serve, love, and care for his people in this country. But, he has also called us here to draw closer to him daily, called us to dive deep into a secret place with him.

As I said earlier, I am apart of a remarkable team of interns that are pressing each other towards the cross of Christ, but we have also been able to receive this from the community leaders. I received the awesome privilege of getting close to one of the leaders in one of the communities that we served in. His name is Peter and he is on fire for Jesus Christ. Countless nights we would sit by the campfire and discuss God’s Holy Spirit and his mighty works. Every night I would see Peter speaking with someone on our team about God.

Our team has also been able to go to many different churches. On many different accounts God has called me to preach at the church, which truly amazed me. I struggled so many times trying to figure out why God would use me to speak, especially since I have never been placed by God in that kind of setting. I asked myself, “Why would he dare to use someone so insufficient for the job?” But then it hit me! It was never about me, and it is still not about me, but it has always been about God the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. It has always been about God, and although things are impossible for man, nothing is impossible for God. So yes, I am insufficient, but the God that I serve is not. It is him that does the work in and through us, and because of that truth all the Glory belongs to him. So, it does not matter how prepared I am to speak and how much I wrote down in my journal. I believe that if we are willing to be used by God and have surrendered our heart to him, then he can use us for anything that he wills. I love that this has been the posture of our entire team. We have continually placed ourselves in a position that it able to be used by God regardless of our own abilities or inabilities. I have also seen this in the team I was placed on for the Rejoice Project camps our team hosted this summer. Hannah, Jordan, Camie, Anna, and I have constantly prayed before teaching - asking that God’s Holy Spirit would come in and do the work through us. We knew that in and of ourselves we can do nothing but through Christ who gives us strength we can do all things. I am truly grateful to be a part of a team that, day after day, is becoming more and more selfless, a team that focuses not on themselves and our own will, but totally and completely on God’s will. Our mission is to live out His will on this earth; the place he has placed each and everyone of us in.

-Antonio

Looking for Him

At the beginning of the summer, we visited community number one here in Africa.  This past week, we had the awesome opportunity of going back for one last visit.  Between those two times, God drastically flipped my world upside down. DSC_0792

So here we go!  During our first stay in this community, I had no clue what to expect, or why I was even here this summer.  Why was I chosen for this? A young college student, who definitely didn’t have his priorities straight—why would God choose someone like that to serve Him and further His Kingdom for an entire summer in Africa?  But at about this point, after a few long days and long nights, God began to reveal Himself to me in crazy ways.  Sick of dealing with these lies in my head, I sought out a staff member who gave me Ephesians 1:1-13.  God revealed to me that I am chosen, holy, blameless, and loved.  These small pieces of truth played out well in my head, but I absolutely did not believe them in my heart as I walked with God.

I prayed and prayed that God would help me believe these truths in my heart. So as I constantly reminded myself of these truths, and studied more of God’s word about my true identity in Him, head knowledge gradually transferred to heart knowledge.  And that’s when God spoke to me in a way He never has before.  We were having a night of worship, and we began to sing a song that I had been thinking about earlier that day.  Immediately God flooded my mind with an image of Him reaching out His righteous right hand towards me and then I saw myself in pure white clothes, and I took His hand, and we walked into a green pasture.  So needless to say, God absolutely ROCKED my world in that moment.  My prayers had been answered and God showed me that He heard me.  He heard my cries out to Him and He showed me that I am chosen, holy, blameless, and loved by Him.  No matter what sinful nature I possess, no matter what I might think of myself and no matter where I’ve been placing my identity, The Lord has chosen me for such a time as this.  He sees me as chosen, holy, and blameless, and He loves me more than I can ever understand.  And that’s when I realized what God was going to do with my summer.  I kept receiving more and more truth about myself, and my identity in Christ.  He taught me how to walk, but more importantly He taught me how to walk in perfect truth throughout the rest of my time in the communities.

After wrestling so intensely in our first community, I was very interested to see what God was going to do with my time visiting that community again this past week.  But once again (as always) God rocked my world.  The word ‘abide’ constantly came up in my day to day quiet time with The Lord.  It became clear that God was trying to get my attention.  So I began to study it.  What does abiding look like in my life? Or on a more real note, what does that even mean?  I went to God in prayer, and He has gradually revealed what that looks like for me.  As I have been abiding in Him daily, I’ve been able to see God’s faithfulness so clearly.  I went from believing lies that didn’t belong in my life at all, to believing and walking in truth that The Creator of the universe has thought about me all along.  Have I perfected the act of fully believing that truth every day?  Definitely not.  But through abiding in Him, I have been able to conquer so much, and discover how God really sees me as His SON.

You know, it’s funny.  All summer I’ve been teaching kids through various arts and crafts how they are unique and special, and how God has chosen them to be His son or daughter.  But do I even believe that about myself?  At this point in the summer, I won’t be able to teach the virtue of uniqueness again in anymore classrooms.  I won’t be able to look absolutely ridiculous in front of a classroom anymore, with God’s children smiling at Kate, Hannah, Jay and me as we tell them they’re unique and special.  But as I look back at God’s incredible faithfulness, I keep seeing how God has used those moments in the classroom to shape me, and to reveal to me how He sees me, too.  Walking through the classroom in one of our teaching sessions, a child wrote on his paper that he is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’  God planned for me to see what that little boy was writing on his paper.  Sometimes, God works in the little details.  And if we just look for them, and if we just look for Him in everything we do, He will rock our worlds in the craziest ways.

-Jared

The FREEDOM.

Days are made up of time; time is made up of moments; moments are made up of minutes; minutes are made up of seconds; and so on… This has been Journey thus far. 45 days that feel like a million. Plenty of God moments, as well as flesh moments. Smiles, tears, laughter, mourning, and everything in between. Lots of revelation, and lots of freedom. It would be impossible to write down exactly what’s happening and how things are, because it changes with every moment. Some moments I feel like I am on top of the world; for example when I was outside laying under the stars last week praying God would just reveal himself to me, show me a shooting star, something. When I waited an hour and got nothing, I stood in the tall uncut grass and walked toward the tent, where I would settle in for the night. As I walked, I looked up once more. There, right in the center of the sky, was a star, twinkling as hard and bright as it possibly could. It was in that moment that the Lord spoke, “Every single one of these stars I’ve put in the sky to scream my glory, what more could I possibly give you?” Also, the night I danced wildly, to “Don’t Ever Stop” from the new Passion album, through a field just celebrating. Even moments where I sat alone strumming a guitar and song writing. Each of these were mountain top experiences, but something I have learned is: You can’t have mountains without valleys, just like you can’t have joy without pain. I remind myself often, joy is not the opposite of sorrow, but the fulfillment of sorrow. “There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Encounters in the valley certainly haven’t been fun, but have absolutely been necessary. Words that have been spoken haven’t always been kind, having African children climbing all over you and pulling your hair isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, being with the same 21 people all day every day isn’t always the greatest thing ever, but each of these moments have radically transformed me. I do not want to underestimate the work God is doing, because it is extraordinary. He is using our team to do a great work and moving in and through each and every person daily. Over 50 people have received salvation, sick have been healed, seeds have been planted; the harvest here is plentiful.

I want to wrap up by sharing a story. Truly, I believe God is the greatest story-teller of all time. The one thing story tellers continuously do, is instill hope in their audience, again and again. This is a story God wrote, a story God planned from the beginning. This story revolves around a red swing set. An old rusty red swing outside at the place we camped.

I know, strange.

As I sat swinging back and forth, I remembered the moments I had on a swing set as a child, and my ridiculous (maybe not so ridiculous) fascination with flying. When I was younger, I would swing, get really high, and then let go. Often times this would mean I fell off and got hurt, but as a child I believed that if I let go, I would fly. I quickly learned that was not the case; reality set in with a hard painful punch in the face.

C.S. Lewis once said, “We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle, and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the center: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork one must make a decision. I do not think that all who go on the wrong roads perish, but I do think there rescue consist of being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right, but only by going back, finding the error, and working it afresh from there; never simply by just going on.”

This is what God is doing in my life. He is taking me back to the red swing set. The reckless abandon. The child-like faith. The FREEDOM. God knew that if I was ever going to get put back on the right road, we would have to travel back to where the error occurred; in my life it was my childhood. He is taking me back and we are working the problem afresh. Back to the beginning when I thought I could fly, but this time, He is my “wings.” This time I don’t fall because I’m not trusting in a red swing set, but rather in a Father whose love never runs out. It never fails. It’s constant. Christ didn’t set me free so I could swing on a red swing set, but so when I got really high, I could let go, jump off, and fly. So I could run and not grow weary; walk and not be faint.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1.

- Jordan M.

Baba Asante! Thank you Dad.

“Okay, I want you to clap your hands on the count of three.”  

One. Many of the children pondered over the foreign, pink object in their hands. It was solid, and yet it needed the protection of clasped hands to keep it from being carried away by the sometimes gusty wind.

Two. Eyes begin to lift upwards, awaiting the final second. The hands, once clasped closed for safekeeping, now began to open in preparation for the big finale.

Three! Amongst the now thunderous applause, pink snow showers everything. Mixes of laugher and shouts now ring out over the school yard as the kids run after the floating pink that now covers them like a canopy.

 

Though I’d seen this same event take place two times prior to the one just described, this third time easily surpassed the others. I’d never seen such a crowd of kids so happy in such an instant. If I could have captured the laughter and huge grins I would have, but it was one of those moments that was meant to be enjoyed and not witnessed from behind a lens. This Rejoice Project camp brings our Journey team half-way through the camps that will be hosted during their travel in East Africa. This is just another example of the significance of such camps and I can only anticipate all that God has for the final three camps. We are all just asking for more: more joy, more children discovering their uniqueness in Christ, and more of Jesus’ name being made great throughout rural communities in East Africa.

 

Today is a special day for our Journey team, a day we all get to celebrate our fathers from abroad. Much like the school children holding the pink object in their hands, fathers, you, too, have sheltered us from the winds of life that could so easily carry us away. You’ve carried us close to you and your constant encouragement, advice, and basketball-going, little-league coaching self has set each of us up for the best of lives. In true Father-like character, you’ve sacrificed more so that we could have the best this world had to offer. And then, as the time came, you carefully opened your hands, releasing us into the world. As we navigated the long-stretching roads of life, you were our coach again, giving us the advise we needed for the way, building us up for the time when we, too, would fly in a glorious display of all your dedication to our success in everything. You’ve done nothing less than illustrate the love of our Heavenly Father in living, breathing, there-for-you fashion - an exemplary servant of the Most High.

 

For such a day as this, there is no better way to honor our fathers than giving thanks and continuing the good work prepared for us in East Africa. We’ve already taken care of the work God had for us today, so now it is time for thanks:

 

Anna Bailey - Daddy!!!! I wish with all my heart that I could call you and hear your voice. I miss you so much!!! Tell Mom that I miss her so much too!! I can barely write this without crying tears of sadness as well as tears of joy. You are such an amazing father who is a wonderful example of a man after God’s heart. You are patient, kind, loving, an awesome listener, goofy, a provider, talented, and my best friend. I look up to you and you have truly set an amazing example of what I want my husband to be like. Jesus radiates through you and that is the most beautiful quality you possess. Thank you for supporting my dreams!!!! I’m praying for you daily. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!

 

Anna Matheny - Hey sweet daddy!!!! I wish I could hear your voice today, but at least I get to write to you! The fact that I get to write to you on Father’s Day is just proof that my Journey leaders are caring for us and loving us well. Thank you for being my main man. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and loving me more than any other man on earth ever could. You have been and still are my biggest fan, my best coach, my voice of reason and wisdom, my perfect example of a Godly leader. You have been patient with me and only loved me more and more through life. I can’t tell you how much I love you and miss you. Africa is filling me with so much joy as always, so I hope you are filled with joy today knowing that I’m doing great and God is drawing me closer to His heart every day :) xoxoxoxo

 

Antonio Gayton - Dad!!! You are awesome! I thank you for everything that you have done for me in my life; for taking me in as your son, not as your step son. You are all I know to be a father to me. Africa is great and I can’t wait to tell you and mom all about it. I just want to remind you of Gods saving Grace that he has placed upon us. One of the best days of my life was when you got saved on new years eve, thank you for allowing me to experience that with you.  I will see you soon love Tony, Happy Fathers Day!! ( :

 

Camie Stevens - DAD! Don’t worry I haven’t gotten eaten by a lion, yet. I am so thankful for your support and love on everything in my life. I love the way we joke around. I love the way I can talk to you about anything. The Lord has given me the most amazing earthly father. I can’t wait to see you so soon and celebrate your birthday and make up for lost time, I love you dad!!! Happy dad’s day, you receive the best dad award.

 

Hannah House - Billy boy. Happy Father’s Day!!! Unfortunately I cannot rap you a cool rhyme today, but just know if I could I would. I am missing you so much and am especially missing you today! I wanted to thank you for showing me what a true man of God looks like and for always supporting me no matter what. I’m sad that I cannot be there today, but I know you guys will still have the funnest day regardless. I am so thankful for you and wanted you to know that I am thinking and praying for you all daily. I love you so so so much and cannot wait to see you! Stay cool.

 

Hannah Illges - DAD!!!! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! I wish so badly i could be with you and the rest of the family. I wanted to say how thankful I am for having a father that daily and even hourly walks with the Lord. You love mom, lucy and I so well, and you are the glue that holds our family together.  I This has set such an example of what I want my future husband to look like. I love you so much and I wish you were here with me. Thanks for loving me unconditionally! Miss you SO SO much but I already cant wait to see you!!! Love you and enjoy your day!!!

 

Jared Roach - Dad, Happy Father’s Day! I’m missing you so much today, more than you even know. It’s such a blessing to have a father that honors The Lord in everything he does. Thanks for modeling how a TRUE man of God should be, and for teaching me everything I know. I’m so sad I can’t be there with you, but I know your day will be fantastic. I love you so much, and I can’t wait to see you!

 

Jay Brantley - Happy Father’s Day! Dad, I truly could not ask for a better earthly father. You are the best role model and I thank you for everything you have done for me. I still remember that letter you wrote me in like fifth grade about my faith. You have done a fantastic job of raising me in the faith and I would not be the person I am in Christ if it was not for your leadership and your dependence on the Lord. Thank you for the letters and the prayers. I hope y’all are doing great and are drawing closer to the Lord each and everyday. I cannot wait to see y’all and hear about everything that has happened in y’all’s lives. I love you so much and these words that I’m typing do not do justice to how much I appreciate you as a father. P.S. - Sumter, I love you!

 

Jordan Morris - Man, there aren’t enough words in the english dictionary to describe how much I love you and what an incredible man you are, let alone a few sentences. Daddy-o, you are the strongest man I have ever met; you face opposition daily, but continue to stay positive, knowing God has purpose in every moment. You inspire me more than you will ever know. I miss you so much, especially today. I pray for you everyday and have learned a supernatural trust, allowing my heavenly father to care for my earthly father while i’m gone. Here’s to you, the man who taught me how to dream. The man who has loved me at my worst, and at my best. The one who held my hand when I was afraid, and gave me a piggy back ride when I was tired. The man who taught me right from wrong. The man who believes in me more than anyone else on this earth. I have no idea where I would be without you. You are the strongest, most talented, humble man I have ever met. I love you Daddy. You are my hero. My rock. My best friend. Here’s to you; Happy Father’s Day!

 

Jordan Simpson- Daddy! Where to even begin? For starters I miss you so incredibly much. I’m so happy and content knowing I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be; I just wish I could have you and momma watching or at least be able to let you know personally what’s been going on. Wishing I could be with you on this Father’s Day, but I know you are being loved and served well because you so deserve it Dad. Thank you for being a constant encourager, confidant, and friend. You make me laugh so hard, serve me unconditionally, and just set the bar so high on what a father is suppose to be like. Love you so much, miss everyone, and can’t wait for a big hug from you when I get back. Eat crab legs for me!! (if the beach has passed- whoops, hope it was fun!)

 

Kate McMordie - Daddio! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! Thank you for just being the best. I am really really thankful for a dad like you that is so after God’s own heart and want that more than anything for me too. I CANNOT wait to see you guys soon and tell you all about Africa. I promise I will get you the coolest belated Father’s Day gift from the Massai market (so I know it’ll be cooler than anything Reid or Bennett get you or ‘make for you from the heart’). Love you so so much - see you soon!!

 

Sam Byrnes- Daddddddyyyyy!!! Happy Father’s Day and Happy Birthday in a few days!!! How are you?!? I miss you so much and wish that I could be with you today. Just know that I have been thinking about you a lot and been praying for you and Mom. Make sure to write down all the God moments you have experienced because I have been doing the same. I can’t wait to see you and discuss all that God did this summer in both of our lives. I know more than anything, this is a summer of healing for our family. Jesus has been changing and shaping my heart and I know that I will leave this trip a changed person. I am continually seeking to feel the Holy Spirit in my life and I pray that you feel Him as well. Love you soo much and thank you for your constant love, encouragement, and prayers!! Tell Mama I love her too!

 

Simon Dobbins - Dad, to the greatest role model a son could ask for, I cannot thank you enough for all of the support and opportunity you have blessed me with throughout my life. Hope all is well and you had a great day, love and miss you happy Father’s Day        -Ol’ Man

 

William Schmid - Dear Dad Schmid, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! They only gave me two sentences but I love you so much I’ll go over and everyone else is doing it… I love you and I miss you so much! I can’t put into words how thankful I am that you were/are so supportive about Africa and everything! I'm so blessed. Send everyone my love! I cannot wait to see you guys again but until then I'm praying for you guys like crazy. Also Sarah I love you ;)

 

Ben Pertl - Dad. You rock. You might have more hair on your upper lip than the top of your head, but it’s the heart that makes a man, not the placement of his hair. Lucky you. Seriously, I wouldn’t be who I am if not for you, and I’m thankful every day for your guidance and wisdom. Have a great Father’s Day, we’ll have a steak when I get back. Love you.

 

Brantley Bell - My favorite man in the world!! Thanks so much for all that you have done and continue to do for me. I hope that this Fathers Day is the best one in a long time. Papa Danny would want you to enjoy it! Enjoy your day off, and tell Mom I said that you deserve to go wherever you want for dinner and to have a great night with the woman of your dreams! I love you and could not have even dreamed of a better Dad!!!!

 

Margot Osborne - Daaaad. Happy Fathers Day! I hope you’re enjoying a day full of cheese blinces with blueberry sauce. Know that I’m thinking of and praying for you! I am so grateful for everything you do for us.

 

Shirley Speckerman - Hi Did! I started taking my malaria medicine today, just for you! Happy Father’s Day! I’m thinking of you today, and I know you’re thinking of me too. I’ll see you soon. I miss you lots and lots!

 

Trey Hayman - Dad! Where to start? First off, I’m incredibly excited to sport our Hawaiian shirts together at the end of the summer. But, in all seriousness, thanks for being such an incredible representation of our heavenly Father and modeling for me what it means to be a man after God’s own heart. I look up to you so much more than you know, and I admire your wisdom and perspective. Thanks for being such an incredible role model for me. I love you so much, and I hope this Father’s Day is peaceful and relaxing for you. Miss you!

 

Cody Goshert - Dad, you’re the best example I have of a man devotedly following after his Heavenly Father. Though I have been known to say that I am vastly different from my father, I am proud to say that as each year passes I become more like you. Thank you for giving me your best, showing me God’s best, and for giving me the best footsteps to follow in. I couldn’t be more proud to be a Goshert!

 

 

 

A girl named Den.

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My time in the first community was rocked by a 7 year old girl named Den. - At least, that’s what I called her for two days while teaching in her school - Den. The last day at the school, we were passing out their art folders and I called out the name “Jane” which was written on the folder in my hand. Den came running up and grabbed the folder out of my hand, giggling.

 

Note to Kate: The name “Jane” sounds scarily like the word “Den” when spoken in an African accent.

 

Regardless, Jane has two of the biggest, brownest, and most beautiful eyes God ever made. Her smile is one of those that is sheepish but insanely joyful at the same time.The next day, we ventured into African churches throughout the community, and as God and His kindness would have it, Jane and her little sister came skipping through those church doors. The entire service, Jane would look over at me and flash her sheepish grin. Her parents weren’t with her so she paid the tithe by herself and kept tabs on her 3 year old sister throughout the service.

 

After church, we all met up at the open street crusade, which happen frequently here in Africa. They are essentially an open church service with a couple of speakers, loads of dancing and a lot of “hallelujah’s”. Jane and I just played like good friends the entire time. At one point, a handful of girls and I were sitting and Jane stood relentlessly, for 30 minutes, shading me from the hot, hot, hot, African sun with her coat. Despite my protests, Jane just kept standing, kept smiling and shaded me the entire afternoon. When it was time to leave, a meek “I wish you safe travels” was whispered into my ear, and she and her little sister took off walking home.

 

It is so easy to stand in front of a classroom full of African children and pour every ounce of love you have onto them. To drill into them that they are immeasurably loved by a Creator that made them special. It is so easy to romanticize the concept of missions. I surely came in thinking that everyday would be a good day, that I would be surrounded by African children 24/7 and I wouldn’t ever be tired because of the energy of Jesus and that I would pick up Swahili in no time. I came in believing in my own strength as a believer of Jesus.

 

The truth is that I didn’t shower for 12 days.

The truth is that most days I woke up exhausted, with an aching back because my mattress was the ground.

The truth is that some days weren’t good days.

The truth is that I didn’t know what I was doing. And I still don’t.

The truth is I can’t do this.

 

But.

 

The truth is that some of the past 12 days were some of the best I’ve ever had.

The truth is that I got to tell countless children about a Savior that changed my life for good.

The truth is that I can’t do this - but by God’s grace He’s letting me.

The truth is that I am an utterly broken child of God, thirsty for the love of Jesus Christ.

The Truth is simply, Jesus.

 

Jane showered me with the love that I thought that I was supposed to be pouring into her. Through Jane, the Lord showered me with love that I didn’t even know I was thirsty for, because I thought that I had all the love that I needed.

 

Goodness, does this broken vessel need the love of my Jesus, daily. And goodness, does my Jesus have boundless portions of that love to give me, and Jane, and I promise He has plenty for you, too.

 

- Kate McMordie, a Journey 2014 intern