Sunday, December 19, 2010

How Can You Measure Hope?

As you know, this fall we were both in Africa for an extended period of time. We were actually together in Malawi for 10 days! That doesn't happen a lot -- so it was a special blessing!

As we reflect on our time in Africa, there are a couple of experiences we would like to share with you. We hope they will be a blessing to you.

Home-Based Care in Malawi

On our first day in Malawi, our team went into Mgona – the poorest area of the capital city of Lilongwe. Mgona is home to over 50,000 people – almost half of whom are orphans and vulnerable children. The HIV infection rate in this community is estimated to be about 35%. It is here that Home-Based Care volunteers from Somebody Cares work tirelessly to bring hope to the sick, the dying, the elderly and to orphans and vulnerable children. As we visited homes we encountered those who could truly be counted among the poorest of the poor.

In every home we read the Scriptures with the patients, prayed with them, and the Somebody Cares volunteers made sure they had enough medication and food until they could visit again. In many ways we felt helpless – but when
we saw the hope that these visits bring to the patients, we realized it wasn’t so much about what we can do – it was simply the fact that we were there. Somehow, our visit brought hope.

During the time in Mgona I was once again struck by the incredible service that Home Based Care volunteers provide. With little of their own to begin with, these men and women sometimes travel long distances every day to visit those who are house-bound by AIDS and other diseases. One of the HBC volunteers we spent the day with was obviously very tired. She talked to us about her life and then said this – “Whenever I get tired from all the walking, I just remember that Jesus walked everywhere to minister to people. If Jesus walked – so can I. The fact that He walked, encourages me to continue to walk and minister to my patients.”

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a small country in West Africa that is about 50% Muslim, and 17% Christian. Visionledd partners with Vigilance Ministries in this nation of about 14 million people.

One day our team attended the HIV/AIDS Support Group that Pastor Kouliga Nikiema and his team lead every week in the capital city of Ouagadougou. What an amazing group! The 100 or so men and women in attendance came from a variety of backgrounds – Evangelical, Catholic, Muslim and Animist (followers of traditional religions). During the meeting Pastor Kouliga asked those in attendance to share what God has been doing in their life through this group. Person after person stood up and shared about how the group had blessed them. Some told of coming to know Jesus. Others talked about the emotional and physical support they received. Still others said they didn't know if they would be alive had it not been for this group. At one time, the diagnosis of AIDS left them without any hope. Now, by the grace of God – they see a hope and future for them, and their children. What a blessing to be there. Our team walked away encouraged and amazed at how God works to change lives.

Both the Home-Based Care volunteers in Malawi and the HIV/AIDS Support Group in Burkina Faso are providing hope to the hopeless. Recently, when a western visitor asked one of our partners whether or not they could measure the results of the gifts they had received from donors, our partner said this: "I can show you the wells we have drilled. I can show you the buildings we have built, and the orphans we have fed. But how can you measure hope?"

How can you measure hope? You see it in the eyes of children who once were hopeless. You see it in the response of men and women – who were once on their deathbed – but now see a future for them and their families. You see it, as those who once were being ministered to – now reach out and help others in their community. But hope can’t be measured with statistics and numbers. Hope is something that springs forth in the heart.

Christmas is a time of hope for all the world. When we were hopeless, Christ came to give us hope!

During this Christmas season we want to thank you so much for your part in bringing hope to the people of Africa. Your prayer, friendship and support is helping us and our African partners bring hope to those who need hope the most -- the orphan and vulnerable child, the widow and those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cape Town 2010 - God Is On The Move

It’s the song of the redeemed Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise about the four winds Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground
Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

And all the powers of darkness Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God’s people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

In so many ways the words of this song by the Newsboys sums up Cape Town 2010. What an amazing experience! 4,500 people from 198 countries worshiping God, listening to the voice of God, being the Church and praying together about what God is doing in the world. It was an amazing privilege to be part of this, the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.

Over the past 3 weeks, since the end of the Congress I have been processing what I learned and experienced. I know, that in the weeks to come, there will be more that I will be able to say, but for now, here are my thoughts.

God Is On The Move - I walked away with a greater sense of the fact that God is doing amazing things around the world. There are 1 million believers in Iran. An Imam in West Africa became a Christian about 10 years ago. Since then he has led about 1,000 other Muslim clerics to the Lord and churches are springing up across that part of the world as a result of his ministry. Palestinian believers and Jewish believers are being reconciled and are working together for peace. As the old song says "what a mighty God we serve"!

From Everywhere to Everywhere - The task of world evangelization is no longer from the north to the south -- it is now the task of the whole global church. That means missionaries are being sent from every nation to every nation. Latin Americans are going to the Middle East and Africa. Asians are going to Asia, Africa and Latin America. Africans are going to Europe. It is the whole body of Christ working together for Kingdom Purposes.

Partnership - The time for lone wolves is over. God is working in partnerships and networks where everyone has something to contribute and where everyone -- no matter the color of one's skin, one's gender, wealth or power -- has the opportunity to lead and fulfill God's call and vision for their lives and ministries. This new paradigm is a challenge for those of us who are in the West -- we are used to leading the charge. The call of God for us is now to partner as equals, to contribute to the vision of others, to listen, to learn, and to serve.

It Is About the Whole Church - It is not about the American Church, or the African Church, or the Asian Church or the Latin Church -- it is about the Global Church. It is about releasing the gifts of each church, of every culture, every language, of men and of women to use their spiritual gifts, natural abilities and skills. It about children, youth, men, women and those who are "old" being empowered to contribute to God's global redemptive purposes.

It is About Integrity, Humility and Servic
e - One of the things I appreciated so much about the Congress was the fact that everyone -- whether famous or unknown, whether leading a large organization or a small one -- was identified only by their name and country of ministry. No titles. No lofty introductions. No celebrities. The focus was on humility. The call was for leaders to be people of integrity in every aspect of their life. The challenge was to serve. Perhaps Paul Borthwick of Development Associates International summed it up the best when he said the following:

"As I looked across the 4000+ persons in the assembly hall, I could see Anglican Bishops from Uganda, Australia, Rwanda, and Nigeria. The Presidents of World Vision USA and World Vision Canada were there. The Presidents of Biola University, Gordon College, Asbury Seminary, Asbury College, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary sat at various tables with associates they were just meeting. Best-selling authors and well-known Bible teachers, hugely successful business people and heads of mission agencies were all sitting with people who knew or cared little of their accomplishments. Seated at these same tables, there were village pastors from India, an unknown pioneer planting churches from Laos, campus workers from Colombia, Bible teachers from the Sudan, and church leaders from Albania. It was an amazing image of that statement, "At the foot of the Cross, the ground is level."

There is much more I could say -- and I'm sure you'll eventually hear more from me about the Congress in the days ahead. What I do ask, is that you pray for me and the team I am leading as we leave for Burkina Faso on November 19 to work alongside Pastor Kouliga Nikiema and Vigilance Ministries.

Thank you so much for all your prayer and support.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Divine Appointments Lead to Kingdom Connections

A couple of weeks ago Debbie and I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Dr. Hugo Gomez. Dr. Hugo is one of the foremost practitioners of CHE (Community Health Evangelism) in the world. He has been working with the rural poor in Guatemala and throughout Latin America for about 30 years, and has seen villages and communities transformed by the grace of God. Debbie and I have been friends and ministry partners with Dr. Hugo and his wife Miriam for about 10 years. You can read all about Dr. Hugo's ministry HERE.

One of the things we talked about was how God gives us "divine appointments" with those He wants us to have relationship with -- and partner with. We were amazed at the tapestry of relationships that God has woven into our lives over the past two years. One of the best examples is of how the Lord knit Debbie and Diane B. from Round Rock, Texas together. They met in
Malawi in the summer of 2009, and when Debbie and I went to Minneapolis in April along with Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares to speak at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit, Diane joined us. There we discovered that Diane's daughter (a student at Baylor University) had a heart for Latin America. We encouraged her to get in touch with Dr. Hugo. and go to Guatemala for the summer. She did -- and as a result, this coming March, 20 Baylor medical students will be going to Guatemala to minister with Dr. Hugo. Not only that, but it turns out that one of Dr. Hugo's long-term supporters lives less than a 1/2 mile from Diane -- and they are friends! In the meantime, a partnership formed between Visionledd and Drops of Grace, the ministry that Diane and her husband lead. This past weekend, Debbie and I spoke at a banquet in Round Rock, Texas that was raising funds for Somebody Cares Malawi! Isn't God amazing!?

But that is only one example of several "divine appointments" that have formed the basis for our ministry this fall. In September Karl was in Washington DC for a meeting of the leadership team of the Faith to Action Initiative. Karl being on the leadership team was the result of a "divine appointm
ent" at Baylor University in February of 2009. Next year a publication funded largely by UNICEF will be coming out highlighting the partnership between Visionledd, Somebody Cares and Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ. UNICEF personnel have said this is perhaps the best faith-based partnership they have ever seen!

In January of of this year, when Karl was in Dallas for a m
eeting of the US delegates to Capetown 2010, when he "accidentally" met Karole E. who is one of the leaders of the missions ministry of a large African-American church in the Washington DC area. At the end of October, Karole and a friend who is involved in a Hispanic church in New York City are traveling to Malawi with us to see if their churches should partner with Somebody Cares! Karole's friend Martha is also looking for wholistic ministry opportunites for her church in Latin America. Do you think we should tell her about Dr. Hugo?

Another "chance" meeting on a plane between Edmonton, Ca
nada and Salt Lake City in the summer of 2009 has led to Merle S. a Christian leader and pastor in the Atlanta area going to Burkina Faso with Karl in November!

Isn't God amazing? Only He could weave together such a web of relationships and partnerships. The Kingdom of God really does grow organically!

SO, we ask you to pray for us this fall as we spend a significant amount of time in Africa. Pray that God would bring across our path, t
hose He wants us to partner with and build relationship with as we seek to see "His Kingdom come and His will be done" on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for safety in travel, and for effective ministry.

Here is our schedule:

October 15 - 25 - Karl is in Cape Town, South Africa as a US delegate to the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town 2010). About 4,500 invited delegates from over 200 nations will meet to
understand what God is doing in the world, pray and strategize together.

October 19 - November 13 - Debbie is in Malawi to work with Somebody Cares leaders, staff and volunteers doing ministry in the 17 communities Somebody Cares serves.

October 25 - November 5 - Karl will be in Malawi leading a Vision Trip with the two churches from Washington DC and New York City. PLUS -- he gets to be with Debbie!

November 19 - 30 - Karl is leading a team to Burkina Faso to be with Pastor Kouliga Nikiema and Vigilance Ministries.

We are excited about all that is possible this fall.

We are also grateful for God's provision in our daily life. One of the big answers to prayer is that our son Donovan now has a full-time job as a web programmer that will enable him to continue university as well! It's a bit of a miracle and we are so thankful.

Karl will try and keep you posted about what is happening at Cape Town 2010. You can follow Karl by becoming a member of Facebook and adding him as a friend. Or you can follow the work of Visionledd on Facebook. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to read the Visionledd updates. Just go to:

Visionledd Facebook Page

Thank you again for your friendship, prayer and support.

Karl and Debbie

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Malawian Reflections

As you know, Debbie returned from Malawi at the end of July. She led a Visionledd team to work alongside Somebody Cares. The team was involved in speaking and ministering to literally hundreds of women, working with children, and being pastors to the staff and volunteers who work with Somebody Cares.

When Debbie is in Malawi, she is not just a team leader - she also serves as a "cultural translator" and a liaison between Somebody Cares and the other teams that come from Canada and the USA. Somebody Cares considers Debbie part of their family, and so some of her time is spent helping North American teams understand what good relationships and effective ministry look like in rural Malawi. Sometimes it is the "little things" she knows and shares that can make a big difference and help a team be effective.

Here are some thoughts from Debbie after being home from Malawi for almost a week.

Here I am again sitting at my desk in my quiet, comfortable home and yet in my head and heart I am still in far away Malawi, with the requisite short term mission team uniform on – my jeans, t-shirt and a beautiful, African print cloth wrapped around my waist, and worn like a skirt. I’m riding in a van over very pitted, pot-hole filled, bumpy, dusty dirt roads, packed in with my Malawian friends who have become very dear to me.

One of them is Mary who leaves home while it is still dark, taking her daily, many miles long, bicycle ride so she can be on-time for the 7:30 am staff devotions and work at the office of Somebody Cares. She calls me “my Debbie” and I call her “my Mary”.

There’s Miss Theresa who has been a school teacher for over 20 years to local children in Malawi and has now retired and works for Somebody Cares. Theresa recently lost her dear husband Felix, also a dear friend of ours, who died last year, in a matter of a few days, because of Cerebral Malaria. Both women are very capable, loving and patient but are quite able to “give it back” when the teasing and joking begins.

There are 17 staff on the Somebody Cares team, and every one of them has a story filled with sorrow and sacrifice. Yet despite their "trials and tribulations" they find joy in serving orphans and vulnerable children, widows, the elderly and those infected and affected by the scourge of AIDS. The time we have travelling in the vans, give us opportunities to get to know these precious people. It takes some gentle prodding but they will share with you if you ask them and they sense you are genuinely interested and care for them.

Over my past six visits I have come to think of the leaders and staff of Somebody Cares as my second family. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to seeing them each time I make the journey to the other side of the world. Once I get arrive there’s a lot of hugs and hand slapping which is a version of "high fiving" and saying a long drawn out aaaaayyy in that Malawian/African way.

Some people have admired me for the "sacrifice" I am making by going to Africa. The truth is -- it's not a sacrifice. It's a privilege to walk and work alongside my African family in caring for the poor, the widow and the orphan.

I can't wait to go back!

The Fall

The fall is going to be a very busy time for us with a lot of travel. Between September 1 and November 30 one or both of us will be in Washington DC; Austin, Texas; Capetown, South Africa; Malawi and Burkina Faso. All of these trips relate to our work with Visionledd. In our next update, we'll give you some details.

Karl will also continuing working at his new part-time job as the Director of Justice Ministries at Mission Community Church in Gilbert. We've been friends of Mission Church for 3 years. Karl introduced them to Somebody Cares in 2007, and as Mission and Somebody Cares have formed a partnership, we've served as advisors and consultants along the way. Our ministry with Mission Church doesn't change what we are doing with Visionledd, Somebody Cares, Vigilance or our church and ministry partners here in North America -- in fact we see lots of opportunities to create synergy between Visionledd and Mission Church -- in Africa and perhaps even beyond.

We are also thrilled that Donovan and Hyesun are back with us after a year of living in Korea. Hyesun will be studying at Mesa Community College this fall, while Donovan continues working part-time as a web-programmer and begins the "home-stretch" on his degree in Software Engineering. It's simply great to have them back with us!

Thank you so much for your continued friendship, prayer and support. We are so grateful for the fact that you are standing with us in helping North American churches walk alongside those in Africa who are ministering to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, widows, orphans and vulnerable children.

We would encourage you to check out the Visionledd Facebook page. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to see the updates, photos and videos. Just click Here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Transformation -- It Can Really Happen!

As our 4-Wheel Drive vehicle pulled off the dusty, rutted road we had been traveling on for the last half hour it was immediately clear that Chikudzulire was not your average Malawian village. It wasn’t the large, newly constructed Community Center that was just a few feet away that made this a different place. It was what we saw happening all around us – and what we sensed as we
got out of the vehicle.

This was a community in the process of transformation!

Everywhere we looked there were children running, playing and just being happy! We immediately saw several groups of people sitting in circles on the ground and under trees. Theresa Malila, the Executive Director of Somebody Cares told us who these groups of people were:

Over there, is an HIV/AIDS Support Group!
• There, under the tree – the youth leaders are meeting!
• Over there – on the benches – the pastors of this community are getting together to pray!
• In the Community Center – the women’s group is meeting and learning about bead-making.
• In the classroom – about 80 children are in the Early Childhood Education program.
• In the covered kitchen we saw a group of women preparing the fortified porridge for the children’s daily feeding.

What a difference from just a few years ago! I remember Mr. Makena coming to the offices of Somebody Cares in November 2006 – asking for help on behalf of his community. The traditional leaders and the pastors of Chikudzulire had heard that Somebody Cares helped communities with their orphans and vulnerable children and helped them “develop” – and they wanted to change the way life was in their community.

In May 2007 I visited Chikudzulire along with Theresa and a group of 15 pastors that I had organized from Arizona, Wisconsin and Maryland for a Vision Trip. Mr. Makena was there to welcome us – as were the traditional leaders and pastors of the community – along with over 1,000 orphans and vulnerable children, widows and families. They came to meet us with hope and expectancy – but it was not very hard to see the hopelessness in their eyes and their hearts.

Life has always been difficult in Chikudzulire. This community composed of about 48 villages and around 50,000 people is far from the beaten path. It is in the “African bush”. The great majority of people were living on less than $1 a day. There were literally thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in the community and hundreds of widows – all barely surviving. One meal a day was seen as a blessing. The scourge of AIDS had taken its toll on this community.

Today, after three years of partnership between Mission Community Church (Gilbert, AZ), Visionledd, Somebody Cares and the people of Chikudzulire, transformation is underway. The community has two wells that provide clean drinking water to thousands of people. A feeding center for children and a Community Center have been built – and the children have a playground – perhaps the only one in rural Malawi!

But, it isn’t the physical buildings that have caused the transformation. As I greeted Mr. Makena, the man sent by the community to visit Somebody Cares almost 4 years ago – he made that clear to me. I told him I was “blown away” by what I saw – and the difference three years of partnership has made. He immediately said the following to me:

While we are very grateful for the boreholes and the buildings – but the real transformation in Chikudzulire is spiritual. We have hope! Traditional leaders are coming to know the Lord! Churches are working together! Orphans are being cared for! Widows are learning how to make an income! God is transforming our community! We are looking forward to the day when we can help other communities, just like Somebody Cares helped us!

As Mr. Makena and I talked some more, it was clear that he was convinced that God is doing a new thing in Chikudzulire. I introduced Mr. Makena to Amanda Cox of the Faith to Action Initiative. We were in Chikudzulire to complete a UNICEF
research project on partnerships between North American and African churches ministries that do community-based care for orphans and vulnerable children. The result of the research is a publication coming out this fall highlighting effective partnership models. What was happening in Chikudzulire was clear to Amanda. At the end of the two days we spent in the community she told us that this was one of the best partnerships she has ever seen in Africa!

Debbie and I just want to tell you how much we appreciate your partnership with us. In the same way that Aaron and Hur held up Moses hands in battle (Exodus 17), your prayer and support is holding up our hands -- as we hold up the hands of ministries like Somebody Cares, who in-turn hold up the hands of African communities infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Each of us cannot do what we are doing without the other. You are helping to bring hope and change to Africa even though you are here in North America.

Looking Forward to July

July is an exciting month! On July 6 Donovan and Hyesun come home, after being in Korea for 13 months. We are looking forward to seeing them in-person rather than just on Skype.

Then, on July 13 Debbie is taking a short-term missions team to Malawi. Pray for her and our team members that God would prepare them and that they would have a fruitful time of ministry.

Thank you so much for your partnership with us.

Karl and Debbie

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Minneapolis, Malawi and New Frontiers?

I can see clearly now -- the rain is gone! Some of you may remember those words from a song from long ago. In some ways that is how we feel -- at least about the big picture over the next couple or so months. When we last updated our blog, some things were a bit foggy - but the Lord has provided some clarity and for that we are grateful.

On April 28 we are flying to Minneapolis to join Theresa Mal
ila of Somebody Cares Malawi to participate in the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Minneapolis. Over 1,000 people from across the USA will attend this event. Theresa, Karl and Amanda Cox of the Faith to Action Initiative will be doing a presentation at the Summit. They will be speaking on how churches in North America can partner with African churches in doing community-based orphan care. It is a tremendous opportunity to share what we have learned over the past 4+ years, as well as network with people across America. Pray the Lord will enable us to communicate effectively and have those Divine appointments we have been praying for.

Malawi and New Frontiers? -- May 15-28

On May 15 Karl flies to Malawi for two weeks. During his first week he will be helping to facilitate some research being done by the Faith to Action Initiative and UNICEF on the partnership between Somebody Cares, Visionledd and Mission Community Church in the Chikudzulire, Malawi. The research will lay the foundation for the possible inclusion and featuring of our partnership in a publication that will be distributed to churches, Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian conferences throughout the USA. The first printing of the publication will be in the 20,000 range!

While in Africa, Theresa Malila, Karl and one or two others may also be going to Zimbabwe. We have been invited to visit a Zimbabwean ministry in the city of Bulawayo that is currently caring for over 2,500 orphans and vulnerable children. We are still working out the logistics and details of the trip. The purpose of the visit would be to get to know this ministry, meet key leaders in the area and discern whether a partnership with Somebody Cares and Visionledd would be a possibility. Besides the on-the-ground challenges of visiting and traveling in Zimbabwe is the expense. Frankly, if this trip is going to happen, we will probably need about $2,000 to cover the costs for Theresa and Karl (that includes airfare, food, housing, transportation & ministry expenses). The other individuals going, will cover their own costs. We believe this is a strategic opportunity to potentially begin a long-term partnership that could make an impact on this nation. Let us know if you would like to help.

Donovan and Hyesun are Coming Home!

Hyesun received her immigration papers and Donovan and Hyesun are coming back to Phoenix on July 6. We are thrilled and looking forward to having them share our house until they get settled in, and sort things out. Donovan will be looking for at least part-time work as a web programmer as well as finishing his university degree. Hyesun will also be looking for a part-time job. So, if you know anybody who needs a great web programmer and a web designer, tell them to give us a call!

Debbie Returns to Malawi - July 13-31

One short week after Donovan and Hyesun get back home, Debbie is leading a team to work with Somebody Cares Malawi. The team members are all very gifted people -- teachers, pastors, chaplains. Somebody Cares now has over 550 Home-Base Care volunteers, and in addition to working with over 7,500 orphans and vulnerable children, hundreds of widows and people in HIV/AIDS support groups, is now starting on a Rape Crises Center and ministry. Debbie's team will be involved in all of these things -- sometimes training, sometimes providing pastoral support, sometimes just going out with staff and volunteers into community. It's all about "coming alongside" -- and that is what this team will do.

Can You Partner With Us?

We really need your prayer over these next few months. Obviously, we can't share everything that is happening, but we would ask that you pray for us -- asking God for wisdom, direction, protection and everything we need to be as effective for the Kingdom as possible. We know many of you pray for us, and for that we are very grateful.

We rarely ask for financial support, but if you feel the Lord leading you to give towards the work we are doing in Africa, we would ask that you consider a gift in the next few weeks -- especially for the possible trip to Zimbabwe, and for the work we are doing in Africa. There are 3 ways in which you can give.

1. Write a check to "Visionledd", designate it for us and mail it to:

PO Box 20158
Mesa, AZ 85277

2. You can use the Bill Pay feature of your bank.

3. You can use your credit card by giving through our partner Network for Good, by clicking HERE.

Thank you so much for your friendship, prayer, and support.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Opportunities and Challenges -- Trusting God in 2010

This morning Debbie and I spent some time praying for God to lead us and provide for us in the remaining 9 months of 2010. As we talked and prayed we quickly came to a clear realization of the obvious -- we are not in control of our lives! All we can do is seize the opportunities God gives us, trust Him to overcome the challenges that come our way, and follow Jesus everyday. As you know, that is sometimes easier said than done. Frankly, we are quite overwhelmed by the opportunities that God has given us -- and the resources needed to walk through those open doors. We are, perhaps, facing the greatest faith challenge of our lives. We are totally dependent on a miracle working God.

For the past 3 months we have been involved in a whirlwind of activity and ministry. The past weeks have been filled with speaking engagements i
n churches, meeting with pastors about ministry in Africa, spending time with people who are interested in deeper involvement in Africa, preparing for upcoming events and trips, and networking with leaders from around the world. At times we have been encouraged by what God is doing through our friends and partners, discouraged by the challenges of life (finding affordable health insurance on the individual market in the USA) and amazed by the unexpected gifts that God gives us.

This morning as Karl was doing some chores around the house he was reminded of a couple of things.

1. About 20 years ago, Peter Wagner asked this question. "Do you want to build a big church/ministry, or do you want to change the world?" A simpl
e yet profound question with huge implications. Our heart is to change the world -- whether or not that results in a "big" ministry.

God reminded Karl that what we do is focused on walking alongside our African friends and partners as they minister to with those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and as they work for transformed communities. It is about them -- not about us or Visionledd. Like Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses in Exodus 17 -- so we are called to hold up the arms of men and women like Pastor Kouliga Nikiema in Burkina Faso and Theresa Malila in Malawi.

We that in mind, we would ask that you stand with us in the coming months of ministry. Here is some of what we will be doing.

1. March 29 - April 1 Karl will be in Atlanta meeting with pastors and individuals interested in partnering in Africa. Pray that God will give him favor.

2. April 8 - 15 we are hosting Theresa Malila, the Founder and Director of Somebody Cares in Malawi. Aside from a number of private meetings, Theresa will be speaking at Mission Community Church on April 11 (morning services) and April 13 (dessert evening) as well as at City of Grace on April 14 (women's event in the morning). You can contact the churches involved for dates and times.

3. April 28 - May 1 we are going to Minneapolis where Karl and Theresa Malila will be doing a presentation on partnership at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Annual Summit. Over 800 people from across the USA are expected at this event.

4. May - Karl will be in Malawi. For part of the time he will be involve
d in a UNICEF and Faith to Action Initiative project involving Somebody Cares, Mission Community Church and Visionledd. UNICEF is publishing a book about churches/ministries in North America who partner with churches/ministries in Africa doing community-based care for orphans and vulnerable children. Our partnership will most likely be highlighted in this publication -- along with that of 3-5 others. It would be good for Debbie to be in Malawi during this time as well -- but her involvement will depend on the resources God provides.

5. Summer - Donovan and Hyesun expect to return from Korea this summer. We are so excited that they will be coming back. Debbie also expects to be in Africa for anywhere from 4-6 weeks this summer. Her role in leading teams, pastoral care, building relationships and ministering to the staff and volunteers of our Africa partners is crucial for our ministry there. Karl will stay in North America, making sure all is well on the home front.

6. Fall - We will both be in Africa for some of the fall. Debbie will return to Malawi in October and November. Karl will attend the Capetown 2010 Congress on World Evangelization as a US delegate in October. Then at the end of November, he will lead a team to Burkina Faso.

It is shaping up to be quite the year. Will you pray with us as we believe God for the spiritual and physical strength to follow Him and the resources needed to do the job? Thanks so much.

We appreciate your love, friendship and support. We are so very grateful for the many incredible people God has placed in our lives. We are blessed.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Decade Brings New Opportunities


It is hard to believe that today is January 1, 2010. Where have the last 10 years gone? I can still remember all of the "kafafal" surrounding the year 2000!

We are excited about this new year and all of the opportunities that lay ahead of us. This morning we spent some time praying together and we felt the Lord reminding us of three things.

1. The Kingdom of God grows organically. What does that mean? The Kingdom grows naturally -- through the web of people and relationships that God brings into our lives. As God brings people and relationships to us, our role is to nurture and cultivate them so that they can bring the fruit that God desires.

2. Divine Appointments. We need God to give us those "divine appointments". 2009 was filled with many divine appointments. We could give you
the names of more than a dozen people God clearly directed us to. Each of the relationships have a different purpose, but we can see how God brought these people into our lives to take us further on this adventure, open doors for us, or teach us things we need to learn.

3. Champions. God will grow our ministry as He leads us to "champions" -- men and women who have a heart for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the vulnerable child. We are asking God to lead us to people in whom He has birthed a similar vision to ours -- people whose vision we can champion - and people who can champion our vision. We are looking for those we can truly work together with as a team and a family -- even if we live in different parts of North America or even the world. God has knit us together with some of those champions a
lready - but we are asking God for many more.

So, what did God remind us of this morning? Nothing more than He is the author and director of our lives, our faith and our ministry, and, that He is interested in people and relationships and that as we nurture the relationships He brings into our lives, His Kingdom will come and His will will be done.

January Opportunities

January 6 - Karl is leading a panel discussion at the East Valley Missions Consortium on mobilizing people and resources for missions in our changing world.
January 9 - Visionledd USA Board of Directors Meeting via Skype with board members here in the Phoenix area, in Atlanta, Florida and Toronto!
January 12-13- Karl is participating in the Founders Meeting of the Global CHE Network that is bringing together 22 leaders from 17 ministries who are focused on Community Health Evangelism.
January 14 - Karl is attending the Board of Directors meeting of the Alliance for Transformational Ministry.
January 16 - Karl is attending the Board of Directors meeting of Global CHE Enterprises
January 23 - We are leading a dessert meeting focusing on Visionledd USA's new partner ministry in Burkina Faso. If you'd like to attend the meeting, send an email to KARL.

January 25-27 - Karl will be in Dallas for a meeting of the American delegates to Capetown 2010.
January 31 - Karl will be speaking at Sunday services at Church of the Vine in Surprise, Arizona.

As you can see, it is a BUSY month, and we are going to need your prayer. Thank you for standing with us.

Do You Want to Experience Africa in 2010?

Now is the time to begin praying and preparing to join us in Africa! Debbie and/or Karl will be leading teams to Malawi, Zambia and Burkina Faso this year. Teams will be going in March, June, July, August and November. We would love for you to join us. We promise, you will never be the same.

There are ways for everybody to serve -- but we have some special opportunities this year for nurses and teachers in June in Zambia. If you fit the bill, or know someone who may be interested, let us know.

If you want more information, exact dates and costs, or have questions, send an email to US.

Thank you so very much for your prayer and support. We have been so blessed by our friends and partners in ministry over this past year. We hope and pray we have been a blessing to you as well and that this coming year will be one of joy, peace and fruitfulness.