Four Lessons I Have Learned From a Growing Vision~Kacey Bolin

This week’s contributor is Kacey Bolin.  Currently, Kacey is serving as a missionary in Honduras fulfilling many vital roles for ROOM’s day-to-day responsibilities as an Administrative Assistant to our Country Directors.  Her main focus is her role as a full time foster mom to Jesús, a fighter of a 7 year old boy.  Her post this week tackles the challenge of learning how to walk in the vision the Lord sets before us. 

A year-and-a-half ago, Kacey planned a short visit to Honduras.  During this visit, a dying boy fighting malnutrition, profound mental and physical disabilities and years of neglect was placed in Kacey’s arms.  In her heart, God placed a “growing vision” of His will for Jesús and the role Kacey would play in His plan.

Over the last eighteen months, the Lord has begun to unravel this plan for Kacey and Jesús’ family.  Walking through her calling, Kacey has learned a great deal about responding to a vision from the Lord.  She shares her unique perspective and wisdom below.

First things First…

  1. The vision really hasn’t grown- you’re just seeing more of it.

When I decided to follow Jesus I committed myself to His vision, His desires, and His heart. As Christians we are living for Christ’s vision. We could never fully grasp the enormity of this vision. We are committed to a vision of the Divine; it is beyond our scope of understanding. When God reveals more of His vision for us it feels like the vision has grown. However, we are just seeing more of it. God gives us bits and pieces along the way. I’m thankful for that; honestly, if he had given me all of what I see now on day one I don’t think I would have jumped in so quickly. It is important to remember whose vision this really is, especially when God reveals more to us. It is His vision, His way, His plan, His strength, just our yes.

 

When you start to see more:

  1. Keep it between you and God for a bit.

This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn. Recently, God has shown me new depths to the vision He has for my life. As soon as I really grasped what He was asking of me all I wanted to do was talk to someone and get their thoughts. But it was not the time for that. I had not yet committed to the vision. I had not yet accepted and embraced it. I was overwhelmed, a little scared, and nearly convinced everyone would think I was crazy. The last thing I needed to do in that moment was go to someone other than God. It’s like when a couple has to make a decision. The discussion time for a husband and wife is essential for making a decision together; pulling outside opinions into a personal decision would be detrimental and possibly sway them from making the correct decision for themselves. Allow yourself to have that discussion time with God. Let Him be the one that convinces you it is possible. Let Him be the one you bring your doubts and questions to.

This is essential, because the vision is His, you are His, and saying yes to Him is what matters.I needed this time because the vision seemed too big. I needed this time because I was unsure of my capabilities. This time has been invaluable to me because the deciding factor in my “yes” to this vision has been God, not any encouragement, criticism, or thoughts of man. When the vision gets bigger it must be set on a solid foundation; it is an essential place to begin. From there I have been able to begin sharing the vision without being swayed by the thoughts (good or bad) of those closest to me.

 

The advice we all love to hear (not):

  1. Wait.

Seeing the vision grow does not always mean it starts today. Take a breath and wait.

Sometimes God will show you more of the vision and He will put a strong conviction in your heart that it starts now. More often than not though He will ask you to wait on Him. This is a struggle to say the least. I am in the waiting stage. There are few times in my walk with the Lord that he has given me vision and asked me to wait. This is not the norm for me; I am used to leaping without looking, diving head first into the whispers of His will. Not this time. This time I wait, I pray this vision forth, and I prepare for the day we leap.

 

  1. Make it sustainable.

Surprisingly enough, the vision grows but the number of hours in a day do not. Sleeping less is not a viable option. Consider how a ‘bigger vision’ sits in your ‘same size day’ is a healthy thing to do; it is respectful and considerate. Going back to the first lesson, we must remember the vision is not yours, it is of the Divine. Just like parents prepare for their families to grow, this vision is a precious gift from God that deserves the utmost consideration. Make room for this vision in your life. Prepare for it, catch up on sleep, adjust your routine and be ready for the moment it arrives.

 

These are just four of the many lessons I have been learning during this season of growing vision. God has challenged me to look to Him, His promises, and His heart. I hope by sharing these with you, you will be encouraged to continue to accept the new facets of the vision God has for you. It is a humbling experience to carry the vision of the Divine; together we can do it with excellence.

 

You can read more about Kacey on her blog Seeking the Face of My Father

Please consider making a donation to Kacey’s Razoo Page

 

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I’m Not Moving to Nigeria and Neither Are You (probably) ~ Amanda Stafford

This week’s ROOM blog contributor is Amanda Stafford, ROOM’s Executive Director. Amanda carries the load of jobs that would take easily 7 other people collectively to fill.  We are so thankful to have her to lead our team with humility and confidence.  Her post is a direct reflection of  her: funny and honest with the perfect amount of challenge. 

I spent last Sunday afternoon cooking Super Bowl chili with my handsome, bearded boyfriend.  Our kitchen conversations were about Jesus and ministry and missions.  Frustrated by ROOM’s big calling and small bank account, I spoke about how children without parents are dying because people of privilege are apathetic.  I was riled up because there just aren’t enough people donating or volunteering or fostering or adopting or moving into areas of need.  He just looked into my opinionated eyes, sighed and sweetly said, “Sometimes, I worry God is going to tell you to move to Nigeria or something.”

In summer 2013 I visited San Pedro Sula, Honduras for the first time.  I had the opportunity to travel and serve with Carolina Cross Connection.  In Honduras, I fell in love with Reach Out Orphanage Ministries.  I loved the agency’s mission and values. I loved the children they helped.  I loved the people who made up this ministry.

I wanted to stay.

I wanted to stay in Honduras.  I wanted to stay with those kids.  I wanted to be like the missionaries who were working for ROOM.  I wanted to quit my job and sell my old red car and move to this very hot, very lovely place.  I wanted to spend my days visiting orphanages and holding babies.

To be honest, a lot was going on in my personal life right before this trip.  I was in the midst of a comically-awful-quarter-life-crisis moment:  I was dumped after a three-year-long relationship.  My landlord was selling his property and I had to move out of my home.  The large nonprofit ministry I worked for was making administrative changes I didn’t agree with.  My old, red car was falling apart.  Someone stole my identity and maxed-out a credit card in my name.  Most remarkably, all of these things happened in the course of just a few weeks.  So, like the logical person I am, I boarded a plane to Honduras the very next week.

I prayed for a great adventure to escape from all that bad luck.

I prayed for a great opportunity to serve with ROOM.

I met ROOM’s former Executive Director and former Honduras Country Director and asked what openings they had for someone like me.  I spoke no Spanish.  I had no relevant skills or connections.  Their existing programs were well-staffed.  I was not needed.  They gently told me ROOM had all the missionaries, mission teams and volunteers they could manage that summer; But, they said, “What we really need is someone to help ROOM with fundraising and bookkeeping.  Will you pray God sends us someone to help with that?”

I had years of work experience in fundraising and grant-writing.  I had substantial experience in nonprofit financial management.  I had a graduate degree in Public Administration:  International Nonprofit Management.  I was certainly qualified to help with fundraising and bookkeeping.

Was God sending me?

Once I traveled back home, I immediately began working for ROOM.  At first, I was a volunteer bookkeeper and fundraiser.  Then, I was given a full-time job working as the Director of Operations.  Last year, I served as the Interim Executive Director.  As of January 1, I am ROOM’s permanent, full-time Executive Director.  I manage finances and fundraisers and staff all day, every day.  I love my job.  It’s my dream job.

This is my “how God called me to ROOM” story.  I tell it often.  Others retell it better, with more exciting and exaggerated details, but the key points are always the same:  The things I thought were important fell apart.  I opened up my heart for God’s call to serve children without parents.  God called me to serve with ROOM; not as a missionary, but as an administrator.

ROOM’s ministry empowers children and communities.  We provide nutrition interventions and free day care services so parents don’t need to send their kids to orphanages.  We give abandoned infants and toddlers a special place in a loving family so they won’t be sent to overcrowded, institution-style orphanages.  We present the Gospel story to children who have never heard it.  We give kids shoes and uniforms so they can attend school.  We support orphanage caretakers who are overworked and overwhelmed.  Most importantly, we build meaningful relationships with children and the adults who care for them.  We show people how much they matter.  We love people.  This work is exciting. 

This is what people picture when I tell them I work for ROOM:

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Then, I explain that I am an administrator.  When I tell people I do fundraising and budgeting and managing, they immediately get bored imagining my job looks something like this:

In reality, my job is more exciting than I ever would have dreamed.

Some days, it looks like this:

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Other days, it looks like this:

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Sometimes, I visit Honduras and India to work with ROOM’s direct-service staff and missionaries.  During those special times, my work looks like this:

Most days, my job looks like this:

I love that paperwork.  I love those envelopes.  I love these people most of all.  I love my calling and I love my job.  I love it because I’m good at it.  I love it because this calling is mine.

All of us, every single one of us, are called to serve orphaned children.  Children identified as orphans deserve justice (Deuteronomy 10:18).  God’s people are called to deliver this justice and share His love with children without parents as a sign of pure religion (James 1:27).  I believe “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6), but He needs my hands and feet to find that family, or, perhaps, to be that family (1 Corinthians 12). 

This is my call.

This is the way I am bringing justice to children who are abused and neglected:

This is how I am feeding children who are starving:

This is how I am called to help.

How are you called to help?

Around two thousand people are directly involved in ROOM’s ministry.  Of those, only six are traditional, in-country missionaries.  What do the other 1,994 do?  Hundreds are donors.  Some donors regularly sacrifice small things like dining-out or special coffees to make a monthly, recurring donations.  Some donors sacrifice big things, like new school clothes for their own children, or upgrading their current vehicle, to make donations that are substantial for them.  Hundreds of people are prayer warriors who pray for ROOM’s staff and missionaries.  Over one thousand people follow us on social media pages; sending prayers and kind thoughts to our children and staff with every post we publish.  About thirty are foster parents in Honduras.  Six are teachers in India.  Many have adopted children who left ROOM’s care.  Three ROOM missionaries have been called out of the permanent mission field to become missionaries-in-motion, traveling back and forth between the U.S. (where the resources are) and the communities where ROOM serves (where the needs are).  This 1,994-ish number includes staff and leaders at partner orphanages.  This includes ministry partners across the world.  This includes missionaries, staff, donors, Board members, volunteers and all the people who support ROOM’s children in more ways than I can list.

Now, let’s think big.  Bigger than just ROOM.  ROOM served 559 children in 2015.  There are an estimated 153 million orphans in the world (Congressional Coalition on Adoption).  What can we do for the unserved and unconnected?

  • We can pray for orphaned children and agencies serving them daily.
  • We can volunteer with children in our communities by providing respite care for foster families and by volunteering with local agencies serving local kids.
  • We can use our vacation time to volunteer with international agencies on a short-term mission trip. We can make this an annual event, building meaningful relationships with the same children year after year.
  • We can make adoption and foster care integral parts of our family planning discussions and decisions.
  • We can donate large or small amounts of money to child welfare agencies we trust and respect.
  • We can educate ourselves about issues impacting developing nations and children without parents.
  • We can advocate for fair and just national and international child welfare policies.

We can all do something.  We must all do something.

I want to be clear that many, many people are called to move to communities of need.  Some of those people go.  Many more are needed.  This is a critical, important mission and purpose.  Without ROOM’s missionaries, our agency would not exist.  Without global missionaries, many international child welfare agencies would not exist.

My point is this:  The call to serve children who are orphaned is bigger than only those serving as in-country missionaries.

This call is yours, mine and ours.

I’m not moving to Nigeria.  You probably aren’t either.  But, together, we have an important role to play in God’s work to create a world where all children grow up in loving families.

To learn more about Reach Out Orphanage Ministries and to get involved in our work please visit: www.makeroom.org.

For a simple way to Send LOVE to children this Valentine’s Day, check out:  https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Make-Room-For-Love-This-Valentine-S-Day

 

A Picture Paints a Thousand Works ~ Kaylie Kuhn

This week’s ROOM contributor is Kaylie Kuhn. Kaylie has quickly become the voice of the heart of so many missionaries after her last post Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You.  Once again, Kaylie has found a way to bring to light the many layers of complex relationships that come together to make the moments that come across a screen possible. I pray that as this post is read, each giver (whether that gift be time, money, or a specific skill set) reflects on how their gift is brush stroke in that picture!  

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As anybody knows, pictures are incredibly powerful. People are much more likely to stop and look at a picture than read a paragraph. Pictures catch attention, move hearts, inspire, and write a story all on their own. One of ROOM’s biggest fundraising tools is pictures, with their ability to show the fruits of our labor in ways words could never quite describe. However, pictures also have their limitations. What I’d like to talk about today are the works that go behind every single picture, and how many different non-profits, Christian business owners, and missionaries work together in order to show you that cute picture of a smiling kid.

There are hundreds of orphanages and non-profits in Honduras. They all have different missions and visions, but we all share one thing in common: to show God’s love to the people of Honduras. Through our commonality we are able to unite and share advice and resources. An organization that works with street kids could help out an orphanage who just received a child who used to live on the streets, just as medical mission teams can team up with organizations who work in the slums. The possibilities and combinations are endless, and powerful.

ROOM has been blessed by many of these organizations and medical teams. Operation Blessings has provided us with strollers and play pens for our transition home children. The Children’s Cancer Foundation gave one of our transition home children chemotherapy at a near-free cost. Friends of Barnabas gave sweet Deysi, the baby girl living in our Abba Padre Transition Home, a life-changing heart surgery.

But those connections don’t just happen between organizations and missionaries, it happens between simple business owners and organizations as well. We have been blessed by random acts of kindness through many businesses. The Abba Padre Transition Home has been blessed by a store that sells baby and children’s items, gifting many necessities needed to properly take care of their many babies. A cafeteria owner gifted ROOM a special Christmas lunch for the Tia’s of Buen Samaritano at a discounted price. Many pediatricians and doctors have given us free and discounted care for both our missionaries and our foster children.

ROOM’s roots are planted in networking and connecting with others. With every picture we deliver to you, a thousand works of all different people and organizations go behind it. Next time you see a picture of a child smiling or food being delivered, thank God for all the people that have put works into that child, home, or program. Take time to look into the partners we mention in the caption, and find out how you can pray for them or support them.

Thank you to every organization, missionary, and business owner that has helped us over the years and chosen to connect with us. Without the aid of all of you, ROOM could never prosper as much as it has. They say a picture paints a thousand words, but we say it paints a thousand works. Thank you Jesus for all the people you choose to unite in order to do your works on earth as it is in heaven.

Please consider contributing to Kaylie Kuhn’s continued work in Honduras by visiting her razoo link or by sending a check to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries PO Box 5882 Concord, NC 28027 indicating Kaylie Kuhn in the memo line.