Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Karl and Debbie

Debbie and I are writing this from Edmonton, Canada where we are here to celebrate Christmas with Karl's parents. As you can see we are "enjoying" the -18C (0F) temperatures, the beautiful snow and the crisp, cold air. Having lived in Phoenix the last 10 years, we are no longer used to real Canadian winters. We fear we have become "winter wimps".

In order to toughen up, Karl went on a 2km (1.2 mile) walk in the Mill Creek Ravine with his Dad this afternoon. He figured there is nothing like a long, refreshing, brisk walk in the snow to make one feel like you are in the middle of winter! Debbie, decided that the best way to remember winter is to stay inside! You can decide who made the best decision!

We are glad to be able to be with Karl's parents for this Christmas. Donovan and Hyesun are spending their first Christmas as a married couple in Korea. We are looking forward to spending some time with on Christmas Eve via that wonderful thing called "Skype". Those of you with friends and family scattered around the globe know what I am talking about.

Debbie and I want to wish you a wonderful Christmas and a blessed 2010. We are so grateful for our friends and family around the world and for your prayer, support and partnership in the adventure that we have embarked on this past year. These past 12 months have not only been encouraging and filled with tremendous opportunities, but have also challenged our faith. We are so glad that we can do this as husband and wife -- but also with so many of you who have told us your are praying for us and standing with us.

May God richly bless you during this time where we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!


Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blessed to Be A Blessing -- Burkina Faso, Sacrifice and Dessert

Whenever I come back from Africa I am so very strongly reminded that we are blessed to be a blessing, that sacrifice can change the world, and that desserts can be a good thing. Let me explain.

Burkina Faso


During the last week of October I had the privilege of joining Steve Bowler, the Visionledd Africa Representative in the small west African nation of Burkina Faso. The purpose of our trip was to meet with the leadership of Vigilance (an HIV/AIDS ministry in this nation of 13 million), see what God is doing, and discern whether or not Visionledd should join Vigilance in partnership.

Burkina Faso is French speaking and about 45% of the people are Muslim. One could see the Islamic influence everywhere -- from hotels and gas stations funded by Libya, to brand new mosques and boreholes/wells in almost every village and community -- all funded by "petro-dollars". The Christian population numbers about 25% and despite being in the minority, we were privileged to see signs of God is at work throughout the country.

I was privileged to attend a baptism in a village just outside the capital city where 11 people were baptized in a small pond. I spoke to a group of over 100 young leaders who were all committed to abstinence and to seeing God use them to change their nation. Steve spoke to a group of more than 100 people living with AIDS. The story of his 22 year struggle with MS and how this disease is a "gift from God" encouraged those who too were struggling with a fatal illness.

Steve and I, along with Pastor Kouliga Nikiema (the founder and director of Vigilance), traveled to meet Vigilance partners in two communities that have a high HIV infection rate. Meeting with pastors and leaders and listening to how they are ministering to those who are HIV+ regardless of religious background was inspiring. In the town of Bousse, all but two members of the leadership team were HIV+, but they were committed to helping the 57 churches in 90 villages be the hands and feet of Jesus to their communities.

There are many stories that could be told -- but Steve and I both left Burkina Faso and Pastor Kouliga with a profound sense of gratefulness. Grateful that we had the opportunity to inte
ract with heroes of the faith. Encouraged that God is at work, and challenged by the sacrifice of so many who have so little.

I trust this will not be my last trip to Burkina (though I would like to choose a time when the temperature is less than 112F for my next visit). God is at work in this nation and He is using Pastor Kouliga and Vigilance to make a difference!

Blessing and Sacrifice

In the past couple of weeks Debbie and I have been especially blessed by two families, and we would like to briefly tell their stories. About 10 days ago we received an email from a friend who told us that they were celebrating their daughter's birthday. AND, instead of of gifts, they were asking their young daughter's friends to bring money to be given to the ministry of Visionledd in Africa. Whatever the children brought, the parents would match! We were so blessed and hum
bled to hear this story. Truly, this family knows what it means to be blessed and then be a blessing.

In the last
couple of days I spoke to another family that had heard about the WOW Children's Christmas through a friend on Facebook and decided that they wanted to help orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. I spoke with the mother, and was again humbled by the sacrifice that this family is making in order to bless over 200 children with not only a Christmas celebration but school uniforms and school supplies. The family was on the verge of bankruptcy and then a close family member passed away and left them some money. They have been determined to not only pay off their debts, but to tithe from this inheritance -- even if it meant not being totally debt free -- or buying the new car they need. As the mom and I talked on the phone, I was once again humbled, inspired and encouraged by the commitment of this family to be a blessing.

If you'd like to help an orphan and vulnerable child in Africa hear the Christmas story, enjoy a real party and supply them with what they need for school in the coming year, EMAIL KARL
. You can actually do all that for only $20!

Dessert Meeting With Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares Malawi

What is God doing in Malawi? Theresa Malila, the founder of Somebody Cares, will be with us to talk about what the Holy Spirit is doing in Malawi. Join us for some great dessert and the chance to renew old friendships and make new ones as we hear from Theresa and pray together. There will also be an opportunity to support the work of Somebody Cares as they battle against HIV/AIDS and for transformed communities.

Date: Friday, November 20, 2009 Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm Location: 2843 N Whiting Circle, Mesa, AZ 85213

Click HERE for the location on Google Maps.

Please RSVP by sending an email to KARL so we can be sure we have enough dessert (and not too much).

We'll see you there!

Dessert Meeting About Vigilance and Burkina Faso

What is God doing in Burkina Faso through the ministry of Vigilance? Join us for a dessert to hear Karl share about his trip, the ministry of Vigilance and for a time of prayer.

Date: Saturday, December 5, 2009 Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm Location: 1140 E Loyola Drive, Tempe, AZ 85282

Click HERE for the location on Google Maps.

Please RSVP by sending an email to KARL so we can be sure we have enough dessert (and not too much).

Thank you again for all your prayer and support. We really appreciate it.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Zambia, Malawi, A WOW Children's Christmas, Ouagadougou & Capetown 2010


What do Zambia, Malawi, A WOW Children's Christmas, Ouagadougou and Capetown 2010 all have in common? One thing -- they have all been the focus of much of our attention over the last few weeks (in addition to many other things).

Zambia and Malawi

Since I was in Zambia in April, Pastor Eric Mwambelo the leader of Kabwe Home-Based Care and I have been working on beginning a leadership training program for rural pastors around the city of Kabwe. Well, after months of work -- the dream has become a reality. As I write this, Jack Tesch and Micah Brechtel are in Zambia conducting 3 days of training in 3 different locations! Pastor Eric is expecting about 150 pastors to participate!

After two weeks in Zambia Jack is going to Malawi to continue working with rural pastors in the Somebody Cares network. He'll be there for a month, along with another couple from Alabama.

One of the things Visionledd does is help build the capacity of the local church, and these rural pastors will benefit greatly from the teaching and training they will receive.

A WOW Children's Christmas


Another project we have been involved with is the WOW Children's Christmas. WOW (Women for Orphans and Widows) is a ministry of Visionledd. This year we are encouraging churches, families and individuals to consider making a one-time donation of $20 to WOW so that, along with our African partners, we can throw an orphan or vulnerable child a Christmas party they will never forget.
Our goal is for at least 1,500 children to experience Christmas. In so many of the communities in which we work, AIDS has brought pain and suffering, and joy is a gift many children can't imagine.

The WOW Children's Christmas brings the love of Jesus Christ and the celebration of Christmas to an orphan or vulnerable child along with the story of Jesus, a school uniform, school supplies and a special Christmas dinner.

If you want to know more about a WOW Children's Christmas, check out this VIDEO. If you would like to give a child a great Christmas, check out the info at the end of this post.

Ouagadougou

On October 22 Karl is heading back to Africa -- but will not land in Malawi -- rather in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is a small country in Western Africa that has over 400,000 orphans and vulnerable children. Karl will be joined by Steve Bowler, the Visionledd African Representative and together they will spend a week on-the-ground with Pastor Kouliga Nikiema and the staff and leadership of Vigilance. Vigilance has been a Christian voice on HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso since 1996, and Karl and Steve are going to see whether a partnership with Visionledd is something that God would be leading us to. Pray for safety in travel and wisdom as the two of them attempt to discern God's will for Visionledd and Vigilance.

Capetown 2010

Today Karl was notified that he has been selected to be one of the USA participants in the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Capetown, South Africa scheduled for October 16-25, 2010 (this congress is in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance). It is an honour to be selected as a participant, and a great opportunity for me. I will be one of 4,000 delegates from 200 nations attending. I will be participating in discussions and forums on:

  • Children at Risk
  • HIV/AIDS in Africa
  • Church and ministry partnerships between the Global North and the Global South

Karl was surprised to have been selected since much of the focus has been on bringing younger leaders to this 10 day event, and unfortunately he doesn't fit into that category anymore. Karl had the privilege of participating in the 2nd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Manila, the Philippines in 1989. He was a Canadian delegate at that time. It was an incredible time of networking, building relationships, learning, and discovering what God is doing in the world. I know this time in Capetown will be very profitable for him personally, but also for Visionledd International. Needless to say, Karl is excited about the opportunity!

How to Give!

If you live in the USA and would like to contribute to our ministry or to the WOW Children's Christmas you can do that in one of 3 ways.

1. Write a check to Visionledd and mail it to:

Visionledd
PO Box 20158
Mesa, AZ 85277

2. You can use the "Bill Pay" feature your bank offers.

3. You can give via credit card through Network for Good.

If you live in Canada, you can give by going to the Visionledd website.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Malawi, A Miracle and Money


MALAWI


Debbie returned from a four week ministry trip to Malawi on August 7 (just in time for our 28th wedding anniversary on August 8). She wanted to share the following experiences with you from her trip.

Somebody Cares Staff
Prayer in the Mornings

Each weekday morning at 7:30 am I could count on hearing the lovely sound of Chichewan worship on the grounds of the Somebody Cares (SC) offices. I am so impressed with the commitment of the SC staff. Leaving as early as 5:30 am, the staff walk, ride their bike, or take jam-packed shuttle vans so they can pray and worship together before working long, often emotionally draining days -- only to make the 1 or 2 hour trip home again in the evening.

As I slipped into the circle each morning, the staff greeted me with warm smiles, nudges, high hand slaps and Muli Bwanji (how are you?). I then hummed and did my best to fake singing the words to the songs and move to the beat - in hopes that somehow God would perform a miracle so that I could dance like them. I’m still waiting for that miracle.

I loved being part of that worship. Africans seem to get lost in praising God. I can still hear their wonderful harmonies when I’m alone and close my eyes. They are a part of my heart now. My heart is in two places. When I’m home, I miss my African family. When I’m in Malawi, I miss my American family.

They Sowed and I Got to Reap

A few days after I arrived in Malawi my short-term missions team joined me. One of our "jobs" was to interview literally hundreds of volunteers who work with Somebody Cares doing Home-Based Care (HBC).

One day, in Mgwangwa, a community about 30 minutes outside of Lilongwe, Georgia, one of my team members, came to me and asked, “Can you come pray with us?” Georgia and I were working together with Theresa Changalusa, our translator to interview scores of HBC volunteers about what it takes to be a volunteer, their needs and challenges, their hopes and dreams and their prayer needs.

While Georgia was interviewing, I was busy taking each volunteer's picture - using my limited knowledge of Chichewa, to entertain them by asking them to smile, showing them their picture, etc. That is always a hoot! They rarely see pictures of themselves - for some it is their first time. Every picture turns into a group event as I show the person their picture, and then show the picture to each group of people sitting on the floor. When they see the picture, they cover their mouths, laugh and point at the picture and pat the person who’s picture was taken, on the back. Quite the process! But what fun and a good time building friendships.

One of the questions we ask each volunteer is "Do you know Jesus"? That day two men said "no", but asked to pray so they could. So that’s when Georgia came and got me. Along with Theresa, we talked to the men individually about what it meant to follow Christ, and then led them in prayer. Two men began their walk with God that day!

This is a direct result of Somebody Cares "tilling the soil and the sowing the seed" through Home-Based Care. Many of the people now volunteering and serving the sick and dying, were at one time patients who were sick and near death. But a HBC volunteer came to be the hands and feet of Jesus -- and now they are well enough to serve others!

I count it a high privilege to come alongside SC for brief moments in time to assist them and be part of the harvest. They "sow" day in and day out, working, visiting and praying. We have the opportunity to come alongside them, encourage them and "lift their arms" in the battle.

A MIRACLE IN FLORIDA

While Debbie was in Malawi, Karl got an envelope in the mail with a card, a note and a check for $335.87. It was from the children's ministry of a church in the St Petersburg area called Warehouse 727. Their story was so encouraging, that I called Charlene Iskra, the pastors wife, and thanked her for the gift and asked her if I could share their story with you. She said yes, so here it is!

Warehouse 727 is a two year old church plant that ministers in a poorer neighborhood in the St. Petersburg area. This year they sponsored a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children in their community. Each night 25-30 children came -- many of them hungry -- so they fed them. Charlene, who led the VBS, wanted the kids to raise $100 towards the Visionledd God Rocks program in Zambia -- a program raising funds to expand a school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Kabwe. When she announced the goal of raising $100 -- many of the children and adults said -- "this can't be done -- we'll never reach $100". Afterall, many of the families in the church were unemployed, and some of the kids that came to the VBS came from families who didn't even have hot water in their homes. It was impossible.

BUT GOD! Two of the best words you can ever hear! By Wednesday evening, the children had raised $75! By Friday night, they had raised $335.87 for the children of Zambia! As Charlene told me -- "It was a great ending to a great week".

I am always amazed by how God works. Debbie and I are excited about continuing to partner with Warehouse 727 in the future. If you are in the St. Petersburg area, check out Warehouse 727. Visit their website by clicking HERE.

MONEY

Okay, I know you are tempted to stop reading now, but we rarely say anything about money in these updates. The truth is that August has been a tough month for Visionledd both in Canada and the USA. We could really use your help as we move into the fall. If you would like to contribute to our ministry as we walk alongside our African friends in the battle against AIDS and for transformed communities, you can do that in the following tax-deductible ways.

US Residents

1. You can write a check to "Visionledd" and mail it to:

Visionledd
PO Box 20158
Mesa, AZ 85277

2. You can give via credit card through our partner Network for Good. Just click HERE and follow the directions. 96% of your gift comes to us.

3. You can give through the "Bill Pay" program of your bank. Just email me if you need more information.

Canadian Residents

You can give via check or credit card by clicking HERE and following the directions.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support. We REALLY appreciate it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Debbie's Malawian Adventures

Visiting the sick and dying in Mgona. Interviewing literally hundreds of Home-Based Care volunteers and HIV/AIDS Support Group participants. Speaking at a Women's Conference. Networking and building relationships with other ministries. Living without electricity. Short-term missions team leader. Cross-cultural advisor, pastor, counselor, friend. Experiencing African worship in villages and churches.

These are all words and sentences that describe what Debbie has been doing and experiencing in Malawi since July 6.

Short-Term Mission Team


Debbie arriv
ed in Malawi on July 8, and a few days later a small team of women joined her for almost two weeks of ministry. The team ministered to the sick and dying in Mgona -- a large slum area in Lilongwe where 25,000 of the 50,000 residents are orphans or vulnerable children. Somebody Cares has an extensive ministry here that includes Home-Based Care, HIV/AIDS Support Groups, a feeding program for orphans and vulnerable children and some early childhood education. The team also spent a significant amount of time interviewing and praying for Home-Based Care volunteers (the people on the frontlines of the frontlines in the battle against HIV/AIDS) and members of HIV/AIDS support groups in several of the communities that Somebody Cares works in. They literally spent time with hundreds of dedicated volunteers who work alongside Somebody Cares. One of the highlights of the first couple of weeks was the first Women's Conference sponsored by Somebody Cares.

Women's Conference


On July 15 Somebody C
ares hosted their first-ever conference for women in the peri-urban and rural communities that they work in. About 300 women came to the one-day event which focused on relationship with God, marriage, the role of women in the home and community and on issues related to HIV/AIDS. Debbie was one of the speakers, along with Linda Rinzel from City of Grace Church in Mesa, AZ, and Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares. At the end of the day more than 50 women came for prayer and ministry.

The event was so successful, that this coming week another conference will be held in another community to enable more women to come. Debbie will be speaking at the event as well.

The Story of Roseta

Many of your were touched by the story of Roseta that we included in our last post. Shortly after I posted the story, Roseta passed away. You can read about Roseta's passing here. Many of you have asked about Roseta's five children now that their mother has died.

At this point
in time, Roseta's sister is caring for the children with the help of Somebody Cares. Keeping the children with family is the best option for them as they grieve the loss of their mother and begin to move forward.

Debbie was
able to see Roseta's children. Here is a picture of her holding Sherif, who is only two months old. Please continue to pray not only for Roseta's children, but the millions of other children in Sub-Saharan Africa who have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS and now face an even more difficult future. The numbers of such children are staggering -- about 1.8 million in Malawi, and over 12 million in Africa. Those of you who support a Home-Based Care worker through Visionledd are part of the solution to this challenge -- since it is your funds that are helping to provide hope to children like Roseta's. If you would like to learn more about how you can support the work of Home-Based Care click here.

Continue to pray for Debbie, that God would give her the spiritual, emotional and physical strength that she needs. Also pray that she would continue to be led by the Holy Spirit and have those Divine Appointments with the staff and volunteers of Somebody Cares, the people in the villages and others who she meets during her time there. She is in Malawi until August 6. I'm looking forward to having her home in time to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary on August 8.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Roseta - The Epitome of Injustice

Jim Cantelon, the founder of Visionledd has called for "every church to be a Mother Teresa". Visionledd, who Debbie and I are working with, believes in a world where local churches are the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities, ministering to orphans, widows and those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Earlier this week, Theresa Malila, the founder of Somebody Cares, our primary ministry partner in Malawi sent me this story, and asked me to pass it on to others. The story is sad, yet filled with hope. Please read it, and then pray for Roseta, her children and the millions of others who Roseta and her family represent. Roseta's story is repeated everyday in tens of thousands of villages and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Pray also for African churches to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities -- and for North American churches willing to walk alongside their African brothers and sisters in the battle against HIV/AIDS and for transformed communities.

Please click HERE to read Roseta's story.

Debbie Leaves for Malawi

Debbie leaves for Malawi tomorrow (July 7) for 4 weeks. For two of those weeks she will be joined by a small team of women who will be going to Mgona (where Roseta lives) and other peri-urban and rural communities around the capital city of Lilongwe. Debbie and her team will be spending time encouraging the staff and volunteers of Somebody Cares and ministering to women and children. Pray for their safety, health and effectiveness in ministry.

Karl Stays At Home!

While Debbie is in Malawi Karl will continue to work with churches across the US, encouraging them to walk alongside Africans on the frontlines of ministry. He will also be working on a 30 Days Global AIDS Prayer Guide which we trust will become an important tool in mobilizing individuals, small groups, churches and business to pray for and get involved in HIV/AIDS ministry. Our desire is to have it published in time for World AIDS Day on December 1. Karl will also spend a week up in Edmonton, Canada to visit my parents and some friends.

Thank you for your prayer and support. If you would like to know how to support the ministry of Home-Based Care workers in Africa, or want to support us in our work, email Karl.

Grace and Peace

Karl and Debbie Mueller

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Quite the Summer -- South Korea, the USA, Canada and Malawi

I am writing this from Atlanta where I have a brief layover on my way to Indianapolis. June is turning out to be quite the month, and the rest of the summer is shaping up to be one with lots of ministry, travel and adventure.

Donovan Mueller and Hyesun Cho Get Married!

After 5 years and 4 days from their first meeting in Kona, Hawaii, our son Donovan was married in Suwon, Korea to Hyesun Cho! As you can tell from the picture, Donovan is the most handsome guy in the world, and Hyesun was probably the most beautiful bride ever! It was a beautiful wedding that included both Korean and North American traditions. We are so happy for Donovan and Hyesun, and believe God has something special in mind for them. They will live in Incheon, Korea until Hyesun has completed her immigration process to the USA. We are hoping that they will be back in the US by Christmas, but it may take longer than that. We of course have lots of pictures online of the wedding -- so feel free to take a look on our photoblog and Donovan's as well.

Our Travel and Ministry Schedule

The next six weeks are very busy ones for us in terms of travel and ministry, and we would appreciate your prayer.

June 20-22 Karl is in Indianapolis meeting with several individuals interested in involvement with Visionledd and our ministry in Malawi and Zambia.

June 23-25 Karl is in Toronto for the annual strategy and planning meeting of Visionledd International. These three days together are very important. Visionledd is standing at the door of some incredible opportunities (especially in Malawi and Zambia), and we really need the Lord to clearly direct us as we move into His preferred future for us. We need your prayer!

June 28-30 Karl is in Austin, Texas for the meeting of the core leadership team for two networks who are working on behalf of the more than 12 million orphans and vulnerable children in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Better Care Network and the Faith to Action Initiative
bring together Christian organizations, churches, and individuals seeking to promote approaches to orphan care that uphold the value of family and community in the life of a child. Visionledd's role in these networks is to help connect North American churches to African churches and ministries doing community-based HIV/AIDS and orphan ministry.

July 7 - August 6 Debbie will be in Malawi! She will be joined for two weeks by a team of women who will focus on ministry to widows, Home-Based Care workers and HIV/AIDS support groups.

July 22-29 Karl will be in Edmonton, Canada visiting his parents. Both his parents are over 80, and have some recent health issues, so the time spent with them will be valuable.

While Debbie is in Malawi Karl will continue working on connecting churches in North America to Africa. Right now we are looking for 35 new churches to join us in our ministry in Africa. He will also be working on the development of the City AIDS Summits, and working on a global prayer guide on AIDS. It will be a busy summer. Karl will also be working on possible ministry trips in the fall to Malawi, Zambia and Burkina Faso. Debbie will be leading a ministry team to Malawi or Zambia September 7-18, and we would love for you to join her.

Two Websites to Checkout

Visionledd has just launched our new website. While it isn't totally complete, you'll find a much improved site with lots of information. Check it out at by clicking here.

Also, check out the updated Home-Based Care Africa website here. There is a new story on the "Updates" and "Get Involved" pages.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support. We appreciate it so much.

Karl and Debbie

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Cloud As Small As a Man's Hand

It was the first day of the Pastors Conference in Kabwe, Zambia -- a city of about 300,000 people, a 2 hour drive northwest of the capital city of Lusaka. Pastor Eric Mwambelo, the Founder and Director of Kabwe Home-Based Care was speaking to the 2,700 pastors and Christian leaders from 250 churches attending this two day event that focused on the role and responsiblity of the church in dealing with HIV/AIDS. About 14% of Zambia's 11 million people are HIV positive and in urban areas the infection rate is over 20%.

Pastor Eric was talking about the need for new wineskins -- that in order for God's kingdom to come and His will to be done in the 21st century, the church needed to be different and do things differently. New wineskins were needed before God could do everything He wanted to do.

The Lord had also been showing Eric a picture of a small cloud that He wanted to turn into a huge outpouring of God. This picture relates to the story of Elijah in I Kings 18:44 – where God told Ahab to get ready because heavy rains were coming. Elijah went to look for the rain clouds – but saw nothing. It was only after the 7th time that he saw “a cloud as small as a man’s hand coming up from the sea”. Through Elijah, God told Ahab to take his chariot so the heavy rainstorm was not going to overtake him. In other words, God is about to do something quite remarkable -- He is going to pour out His blessing – and we have to get ready for it – even if it seems right now that there is only a small cloud the size of a man’s hand on the horizon.

As I reflect on my recent trip to Malawi and Zambia, these words by Pastor Eric are one of the things that are burned into my heart and memory. They confirm some of the things that I have sensed from God over the past two years. We are in a time of preparation and we need new containers and wineskins that will enable us to be part of what God is wanting to do.

My second memory of this trip occured in Malawi. I was asked to speak at Resurrection Life Church in Matanda -- a church and community that City of Grace has been partnering with for three years. The church meets in the "almost finished" Community Center that is being constructed by the people of Matanda, Somebody Cares and City of Grace. As I was preparing for the service the Lord spoke to me out of Judges 6 and 7. In these two chapters God was speaking to Gideon about delivering Israel. Gideon's response was a question - "How shall I deliver Israel when my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am in the youngest in my father's house?" In other words, Gideon was asking God how He could use someone who was among the "least of these". God's answer was simple -- I use the least of these because then people will know that I am God -- and that deliverance comes from God!

As I shared this message with the people of Matanda -- many of whom are non-literate, subsistence farmers struggling with malaria, TB, AIDS and just being able to survive from day-to-day -- I sensed that God wanted to encourage them, and tell them that He has great plans for them. That what God is doing in this small village, would be heard around the world and that He was going to do great things in and through them -- even though they were among " the least of these". I saw and heard, that they received this "word from the Lord".

A couple of days later, we participated in a two day event for 800 pastors, church leaders and traditional leaders and 300 youth leaders. On the second day of the event we went to the youth leaders conference. As I watched what was happening, I began to pray and God clearly said to me that the hope of Malawi was among these rural youth. That God wanted to use "the least of these" to change the nation. That there were Gideons in the crowd who He would use in powerful ways.

Friends, the hope of the world is not in politicians, in the highly educated, in the wealthy, but among His people who understand the words of God through the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 9:22-23.

Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts, boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for I delight in these things.

Personal News

The next few weeks are life-changing for us as a family. On May 13 Donovan leaves for Korea to get married. Debbie and I are thrilled that he is marrying Hyesun, a wonderful young woman we love. The big day is June 6. Donovan and Hyesun will be living in the Seoul area for the next 8-12 months while Hyesun go through the US immigration process. Hyesun will continue to work with BlogCocktail (a Korean blogging company) and Donovan will be doing freelance web programming for clients here in the US - and learning Korean.

Debbie and I will be back home on June 7. The summer will begin with a fair amount of travel. I'll be in Toronto, Austin and most likely the west African nation of Burkina Faso in June and July. Debbie plans on spending much of July in Malawi (if you want to join her, let us know).

If you would like to see and read more about what we are doing, feel free to click on:

Our Flickr Photoblog

Home-Based Care Africa

Thank you so much for your prayer and support. We really appreciate it.

Karl and Debbie

Friday, April 17, 2009

Encountering God Once Again in Mgona

Once again I met God in Mgona. Mgona is the perhaps the poorest community in Malawi. 50,000 people call this area home. 25,000 of them are orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15. Mgona used to be a place without hope -- but times have changed.

Today Mgona has hope! Why? Because God has come to Mgona through His people who have become the hands and feet of Jesus to the sick, the dying, and the widow and the orphan. Through Home-Based care workers, the 110 members of the HIV/AIDS support group, the pastors of churches, the ministry of WOW (Women for Orphans and Widows) and the staff of Somebody Cares Jesus is bringing hope and healing. Where once people asked if God was in Mgona -- today there is no doubt. He is there and He is not silent -- He is speaking loud and clear!

Today a small group of us joined a group of Home-Based Care workers and an HIV/AIDS Support Group in worship. As our Malawian friends sang and danced and as we joined them, I was once again overcome by a sense of God's love for the people of this community and for me. I once again met God among the poorest of the poor -- it seems that often happens -- at least to me.

Tomorrow (April 18) we head out to Salima, about 2 hours from Lilongwe. Brent Stockwell and I will join Jim and Kathy Cantelon to spend time with the leadership of Lifeline Malawi to determine whether a partnership is something God would want us to do.

On Sunday (April 19) I will be speaking in the community of Matanda -- one that I have visited often. The church meets in an open-air feeding shelter used during the week to provide meals to 350 orphans and vulnerable children. Pray that God would speak through me.

On April 20 & 21 Brent and I will be meeting with Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares as well as Visionledd leaders -- planning for future ministry together. Brent and I will also be meeting with Stella Kasiyre, the African Director of Willowcreek Community Church and Dr. Perry Jansen of Partners in Malawi.

We will also be participating with 800 pastors, youth leaders and other Christian leaders in a pastors conference. Pray that God would move in the lives of these pastors as they are encouraged and challenged to be God's hands and feet in the battle against AIDS and for community transformation.

We leave for Zambia on April 22.

Pray for us over these next few days. We need wisdom, insight and direction.

Thank you for your prayer and support.

Karl


Monday, April 13, 2009

Riding the Crest of the Wave

In the fall of 2006 when Karl was in Malawi, God gave him a dream. In that dream He challenged Karl to begin "building containers" designed to hold His blessing (if that is possible) and to prepare for what is to come. Karl clearly understood that God wanted to pour out His blessing on what we were doing in Malawi and throughout Africa, but that He couldn't do that unless we had large enough containers to hold that blessing.

Since that time we have been focusing more and more on building containers -- containers of relationships, structure, and ministry. We have been trying to prepare for what God wants to do.

In recent months God has been speaking to us again. This time, not in a dream, but rather in a growing sense that a tsunami is coming -- not a tsunami that brings death -- but one that brings life!. We feel like we are standing on a beach looking out on the water. In the distance we see a small wave coming at us. As the wave comes closer, it gets bigger and bigger, and as we jump in the water, we know that what God is calling us to do is hang on with all our might and ride that wave - because that wave is a wave of hope and transformation for individuals
, families and communities who live in fear and despair all around the world.

God is up to something. In the words of the famous song from the 60's - somethings happening here, what it is, ain't exactly clear". We don't know what the future holds, but it is clear that God is up to something REALLY BIG. In the past few months God has led us to people from all walks of life who have the sense that now, as never before, He is going to change the world and reveal His glory through the widow, the orphan, the poor, the sick, the dying -- and through those committed to seeing His Kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

What does that tsunami look like? Let me give you some tsunami like numbers just from Malawi.
  • In 2006 about 120 pastors worked alongside Somebody Cares. Today, it is about 1,200 pastors.
  • In 2006 Somebody Cares had 75 Home-Based Care workers taking care of about 350 patients. Today, there are 218 Home-Based Care workers touching the lives of over 3,500 patients and their families.
  • In 2006 Somebody Cares was impacting the lives of 1,200 orphans and vulnerable children -- today that number is over 6,500.
Can you see the tsunami of impact? Can you see the need for containers to hold the blessings and challenges of ministry? AND, we've only just begun to see what God wants to do! What is happening now is only a small drop in the proverbial bucket. We ain't seen nothing yet!

So, we would ask you to pray for us. Over the next few weeks please pray for:
  • Karl's trip to Malawi and Zambia April 14-27. He has several key meetings with African leaders and potential ministry partners that could result in major impact. He needs wisdom, direction and guidance -- as well as physical and spiritual protection.
  • In May and June Karl has several meetings with pastors and Christian leaders who are committed to seeing the Church become the hands and feet of Jesus around the world. Pray that God would bless these meetings and that new partnerships would result that would make an impact.
  • Pray for the planning process of the first City AIDS Summit which will probably be held in Baltimore early in 2010. Pray for God's direction in the planning process. This is the first of what we believe will be over 50 Summits across North America.
  • Pray that God would continue to bring us into relationship with the right people and would continue to give us "divine appointments".
  • Pray for wisdom to understand which projects we are to move forward with. We have numerous opportunities -- we can't do them all -- we need to do what is best -- not just what is good.
  • Pray for the financial resources needed to get the job done.
Also, check out our website called Home-Based Care Africa. You'll find some great stories about how God is using ordinary Africans to make a difference on the frontlines of the battle against HIV/AIDS and for community transformation.

You will be able to keep track of Karl via Facebook and also through Flickr -- where you'll find lots of pictures.

Many of you have asked us if we need financial support. The answer is yes! If you would like to find out how you can support us, please send an email to Karl.

Thank you for your prayer and support. We REALLY appreciate it.

Finally, here is a picture of Debbie with Theresa Malila the Executive Director of Somebody Cares Malawi (they are much better looking than Karl, so we thought we should end with a picture you will appreciate!).


Karl and Debbie
Riding the Crest of the Wave


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dessert Evening with A President and a Chief!

Shortly after his election, President Obama met with the remaining 4 living Presidents. It was an exclusive meeting behind closed doors. Well, while we can't match 4 Presidents, on March 30, you'll have the opportunity to meet with 2 Presidents (one who is also an African Chief)! AND, it will be open to the public!

Who may these presidents be? The first is Theresa Malila, the Founder and President of Somebody Cares in Malawi. Somebody Cares is one of our strategic partners in Malawi. This will be a great opportunity to say hello to Theresa, hear more about what God is doing in Malawi, ask questions and find out more about how you can get involved.

Our second president is Jim Cantelon, the Founder and President of Visionledd. He and his wife Kathy will join us for this casual evening and you'll learn about what God is doing through the church throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

So join us for food, friends (both old and new) and lots of information about what God is doing on the continent that many of us love.

So, here is the important information:

When: March 30 at 7:00 pm

Where: 3769 E Morrison Ranch Parkway, Gilbert, AZ 85296

How Do I RSVP?

We would really appreciate it if let us know you are coming -- so we have enough dessert (but not too much). You can RSVP by:
  • Sending an email to Karl.
  • Via Facebook . Please remember you need to be logged in to RSVP.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Karl and Debbie

Please RSVP to karl@visionledd.com .

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

An Update on Karl and Debbie and an African Pastors Conference

Here we are -- and it is already the middle of February! Can you believe it? It seems that the first 6 weeks of 2009 have just flown by.

Tomorrow morning (February 8) Debbie and I are leaving for the campus of Baylor University for meetings with leaders involved in HIV/AIDS ministry in Africa. Several key people will be there
, and we would ask that you would pray for:
  • A safe trip there and back. We are driving the 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) from Phoenix to Waco, Texas.
  • That God would enable us to connect with the right people and that we would have those "divine appointments".
A few days after we return from Texas, Karl will be flying to Edmonton, Canada to celebrate his father's 80th birthday as well as meet with some pastors and mission leaders from local churches. He will also be attending the Missionfest Conference and connecting with several key leaders doing work in Africa. Pray that this will be a fruitful trip.

Once February is over, we'll be home for a while -- but there is much to do. Here are some of t
he things on our calendar you can pray for:
  • Plans are taking shape for the first City AIDS Summit. The Summit will be held in Baltimore sometime between the end of February/beginning of March. We'll begin laying the groundwork for the Summit with a group of churches there.
  • Theresa Malila, the Founder of Somebody Cares (our partner ministry in Malawi) will be in Baltimore and Phoenix March 18 - April 7. We are helping to organize the trip and will be hosting Theresa while she is in Phoenix. Pray that God will anoint her and bless her time of speaking in churches, schools, with government officials, etc. If you would like to know when Theresa is speaking, feel free to contact us.
  • Karl will continue to meet with pastors and Christian leaders about ministry partnerships Africa. Pray that God will bless those meetings and that partnerships will develop with the right churches, people and organizations.
Pastors Conferences in Malawi and Zambia

In April Karl will be going to Malawi and Zambia to participate in two pastors conferences, meet with potential ministry partners and see how some of our ongoing projects are developing.

The confer
ence in Malawi will bring together more than 800 pastors -- most who are from the peri-urban and rural areas surrounding Lilongwe. While we do on-going pastoral training with many of these pastors, this conference will be a unique opportunity for them to be together, learn and deepen their relationship with God. What these pastors learn at the conference will be taught in their churches for the next several weeks!

Most of these pastors live on less than $1 a day. They can't afford to come to an event like this without help. For $20 you can help a pastor attend this two day event by paying for his or her transportation, food and teaching materials. If you can donate $40, then we can send a pastor and their spouse.

If you would like to help Malawian pastors attend this conference, you can make your check out to "Visionledd" and put "Malawi - Pastors" in the memo line. We would like to see all 800 pastors sponsored by March 31. If you would like to help, send your checks to the following address:

In the USA
Visionledd
PO Box 20158
Mesa, AZ 85277

In Canada
Visionledd
PO Box 460
Burlington, ON L7R 3Y3

Thank you so much for your help.

Thank you as well for your encouragement, prayer and support. We are deeply grateful for all of you.

Karl and Debbie

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Malawian Mother Passed Away

This past week while I was in Colorado Springs, Debbie received a phone call from Malawi. Theresa Malila, the Founder and Director of Somebody Cares (a Visionledd partner ministry) called to let us know that Harriet, our Malawian mother, had passed away.

I clearly remember the day I first met Harriet. We were coming back from a village we had visited and stopped on the side of the dirt road. Suddenly a short, stocky woman came running across the field towards us. She was excited to see Theresa Malila, and as we got out of the van she looked at me and said "you are my first-born son". For some reason God gave us a connection, and from that day forward, she was my Malawian mother. Debbie met her a few months later, and became her daughter-in-law.

The day Harriet died
she was working in her garden. She began to feel ill, was taken to her small home, and died there later that day. We were really sad when we heard the news, because even though we had only known Harriet for about two years, she had a special place in our heart.

Harriet was a "go-go", a grandmother who took care of 16 children. She was 70+ years old (having lived almost twice as long as the average Malawian) when she passed away. Harriet took care of her grandchildren in a small group of one room houses near a community called Mvunguti. Like the great majority of Malawians, Harriet lived on less than US$1 a day. She worked hard in her garden to grow maize and other vegetables. She raised a few chickens for food. Harriet's home had no electricity, and the nearest well was more than 1/2 mile from her home.

Harriet loved God. She believed in His faithfulness and goodness. She worshiped Him when
life was hard and when she experienced His blessing. Debbie and I last saw Harriet last October. We spent about an hour with her and it was a wonderful time. As we left, Harriet gave us a chicken to say thank you for visiting her again. We told her we would visit again the next time we were in Malawi. But now, we'll see Harriet again in heaven.

We are telling you about Harriet because her life tells the story of literally millions of "go-go's" throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Everywhere we go we find grandmothers and widows struggling to take care of five, ten, fifteen or more children who have been orphaned by AIDS. All go-go's like Harriet need is a bit of help -- help learning a skill so they can become involved in an income-generating activity like making soap, raising chickens or pigs, or sewing school uniforms. Help with some fertilizer and seed for their gardens. Or help with some clothes or shoes for them and the children they are taking care of.

Debbie and I are committed to helping go-go's like Harriet. If you would like to join us, send us an email. We can help you make a big difference in the lives of go-go's and orphans.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support.

Karl and Debbie


Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Is Starting Out With A Bang


HAPPY NEW YEAR!


We hope you had a wonderful Christmas season. Our Christmas this year was a bit different. Our son Donovan's future in-laws from Korea started their visit with us on December 22. In the two weeks they were with us, we celebrated Christmas and logged more than 2,000 miles around Arizona and Southern California. I think we were all tired at the end of our time together. The picture to the left is the group of us at the Grand Canyon on December 27.

Despite the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Cho couldn't speak English, and we can't speak Korean, we managed to build the beginnings of a good relationship. As we dropped
the Cho's off at Los Angeles International Airport on January 3, we knew that despite our cultural and language differences we had begun the process of becoming a family. That process will deepen as Donovan and Hyesun get married in Korea in June! We are excited about what God has done! I think the picture on the left gives you an indication that Donovan and Hyesun are a happy couple!

On The Ministry Front

The first few weeks of our launch into our new ministry has been very encouraging. God has blessed in so many ways -- words of encouragement, divine appointments and financial blessing. We have been amazed by how God has brought old and new friends to us who have have already given over $30,000 to provide wells in Malawi, support the work of Home-Based care volunteers in Malawian communities and provide for the ministry needs of Visionledd and Somebody Cares in Malawi and here in the USA.

We are so very grateful for God's blessing and encouragement. But, we've only just begun!

Coming Up!

The next few weeks are busy and we need your prayer. Here are some of the things you can pray for:
  • January 13-16 Karl is in Toronto for strategic prayer and planning meetings with the leadership of Visionledd.
  • January 19-22 Karl is in Colorado Springs to meet with potential ministry partners as well as attend meetings in his role as the Chairman of the Board of Youth With A Mission's International Communications Network.
  • February 8-12 We are driving to Baylor University in Waco, Texas to participate in workshops and meetings dealing with church and ministry partnerships between North Americans and Africans and how that together we can do an increasingly effective job of caring for the more than 25 million orphans and vulnerable children in Africa.
  • Church Relationships. In the next few weeks we will be in contact with churches in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Maryland and North Carolina about becoming part of a movement to walk alongside African churches doing HIV/AIDS ministry. Pray for wisdom and favor.
  • Finances. Pray that God will continue to provide the financial resources for the work of Somebody Cares and Visionledd in Africa and in North America.
Thank you so very much for standing with us. We appreciate your prayer, encouragement and support. Feel free to send an email to Karl if you want more information about how to walk with us on this excellent adventure.