Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Moses Michael Stiver

In Case You Missed It...
We are overjoyed to announce (again) the adoption of our son Moses Michael Stiver. Moses was born on July 18th, 2007, spent his first eight years of life in an orphanage and was adopted into our family on August 27th, 2015. It has been quite the journey...

Since before we got married, we knew that one of the ways that we would build our family would be through adoption. God has preciously seared the needs of orphaned children onto our hearts. This compassion has compelled us to raise our own family in Tanzania as we seek to minister to orphans and inspire and empower nationals to care for them as their own. Knowing that adoption was in our own plans as a family, we were expectant to see how God would move in this area. 

When we were in the states over the holidays and surrounding Shepherd's birth, God began to speak to us about beginning the adoption process. We can honestly say that how quick it all took place was not in our minds a year ago (when we only had Promise and Shep was still on the way). In many ways, it all began at an adoption and orphan care conference in San Luis Obispo that Brandon held a workshop in. The keynote speaker, Johnny Carr, challenged the oft-held mindset of only adopting within birth order, hence predominantly adopting babies; a mindset that we ourselves had adopted (no pun intended). Melissa began pondering the challenge and we began discussing the chances of adopting out of birth order and considering an older child that is in need.

Once we decided that we were open to adopting an older child, God almost immediately placed Moses on Melissa's heart. In short order, she brought it up to Brandon and this profound moment of understanding came upon both of us: Moses was the one we were to pursue. 

Moses never knew his biological father and his identity is unknown by his family of origin. Moses' mother passed away of meningitis when he was only a month old. A few days after her death, he was brought to social welfare and soon thereafter Treasures of Africa Children's Home in Moshi. 

As you all know our story, you know that our first two years of ministry in Tanzania took place at Treasures of Africa and this is where we began building relationship with Moses and the other children at the orphanage. These children have always been so special to us and it was a blessing and honor to serve them there. 

When we returned to Tanzania in January 2014 after a 20-month hiatus in the states, we visited the precious children there. Moses immediately stuck out to us as we saw a significant change in him. Naturally a lively and outgoing child, Moses had become increasingly withdrawn and lonesome. The life of an orphan had worn him down and changes in his life circumstances had stolen his childish joy. Our hearts broke for him all over again.

As this picture of Moses remained impressed on our hearts, it was no wonder that God brought him to mind when we decided that we'd be willing to adopt an older child. Through continued prayer and discussion, we decided to begin the pursuit of adoption upon returning to Tanzania in February 2015. 

God was gracious enough to give us somewhat of a preview of raising a child of this age when our friend Cyrus Helbling came to live with us for nearly three months. During that time we began by submitting the idea of adopting Moses to our friends Warren and Christina Oberst, who are the directors at Treasures of Africa. They responded, "we've been praying that Moses, in particular, would find a family. If he doesn't find a family, it's not going to go well for him." Their response was overwhelmingly encouraging and confirmed what we sensed God had already begun working on. We were blessed to be the answer to those prayers. Afterward, we met with Rita Langeland (our former boss) who also gave her whole hearted approval and blessing. We are so, so grateful for the hearts of these people for Moses and adoption of orphans into families. 

From there we hired an adoption lawyer in Arusha. We are immensely thankful for his hard work to get this done in a remarkably quick fashion. We first met him at the end of March and entered into an agreement two weeks later to have him direct the legalization of our adoption. Through all the ups and downs, hiring a good lawyer saw us through the process. From our first meeting in April, we began gathering all necessary documents and working with Moses' existing relatives in the nearby village of Mabungo. Our adoption petition was submitted to the high court of Tanzania in June. 

Our first court date was set for mid July, just a few days before Moses' 8th birthday. There was a tremendous build-up for us emotionally and we felt as though we ran into a brick wall when the social welfare officer failed to show up and had not yet submitted his home study report. We re-convened for two weeks later. That second date was also unfruitful as the judge had been called away shortly before our scheduled hearing. We again adjourned for two weeks for a date in mid-August. During that time, it became evident that we had to do more work with the family of origin, specifically Moses' grandmother. Because of a misunderstanding with the family, we had to again adjourn until the end of August.

On the day of our actual hearing, Brandon got up well before dawn to pick up Moses' 80 year old grandmother in Mabungo (45 minutes away from Moshi), then drove back to Moshi to get the rest of the family and caravan to court with Warren from Treasures of Africa. We arrived at the high court at 8:30 and all the stars had aligned. The social welfare officer was there with report submitted. The grandmother, a wonderful Christian woman, had given her consent and testified to the judge. Our lawyer was on top of it and made our case well. Each of us submitted our testimony (Brandon even submitted his in Swahili for the grandmother's benefit). Towards the end of the hearing, the judge called Moses up to her and simply asked him if he gave his consent to be adopted into our family. He said yes. 

A week later, on August 27th, a text message from our lawyer told us that our petition to adopt Moses had been approved and granted.

The truth is there are so many more levels to this story across all fronts - emotionally, relationally, spiritually and so on. We'll be sharing these on our blogs in the coming weeks, months and years (Melissa's already begun). But truly, this is a story of God's grace and providence. We serve a God who sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68) and ordains adoption. This process has been, honestly, the most exhausting and difficult undertaking that we've ever gone through. In the same breath, we can tell you that this is our greatest blessing to receive another child into our family. Moses' adoption, in the same way as Promise's and Shepherd's births, is the best gift that we can receive from God. 

We are so grateful for those of you reading this that have played a role in our own lives. We couldn't have pursued God's calling on our lives for family and ministry without the love and support of our family and friends in the US and in Tanzania. If you are a family member, a friend or a supporter, this is your story too. Though at times we feel that we don't say it enough, we are grateful for you. Thank you. 

Please remember our family in prayer. This remains a big transition for all of us and many days we find ourselves tired and/or frustrated. But God's grace is sufficient and your prayers are appreciated. We look forward to sharing with you more in the coming days.

Brandon, Melissa, Moses, Promise and Shepherd
The Stivers in Tanzania

We'd love for you to follow along with our blogs too. Brandon has a series of adoption/orphan care blogs coming up soon and Melissa continues blogging about life, motherhood and ministry as well.

Brandon // Build This Kingdom

Our family at Promise's third birthday party

Friday, July 17, 2015

Expanding Foundations: July Newsletter

The Stivers in Tanzania :: Expanding Foundations

Greetings from Moshi, Tanzania! We are grateful to God for all that He is doing in our ministry and our family and somehow in the midst of busyness we let a few months go by since our last update. We are seeing the Lord do wonderful things and are excited to share what we've been up to and where we are going. We hope that your summer is off to a great start!

Kingdom Families Advocacy

Family-based orphan care is a new concept and model in Tanzania and adoption among nationals is not common. Therefore, in all that we do with Kingdom Families, it's about establishing a new culture, one that reflects the Kingdom of God and not necessarily traditional Tanzanian culture. As we go around to different churches, seminars and the like, our key scriptures are Romans 8:12-17, James 1:26-27 and Psalm 127. Our passion is to see families in Tanzania thriving and churches and Christian families caring for the orphan and the abandoned as their own.

As this is our heart, we are so grateful for recent opportunities we've had to share with churches and Christian leaders alike. Global-Effect put on a three day pastoral training conference with a partnering pastor in the village of Bonite, fifteen minutes outside of Moshi. On the second day of the conference, Brandon got to lead two sessions along with our friend and colleague Vickie Hemman, who is establishing a refuge home for abused girls. Our focus was on mercy ministries. Brandon first preached out of Luke 4 and Matthew 25 to set the stage of what restoration in Christ looks like and then Vickie and Brandon shared about their respective ministries. During the second session, our African colleague Francis Njogu helped facilitate a powerful time of discussion concerning how we care for the least of these. Most specifically we talked about orphan care and the need for kids to be in families. In all our years of living and working among orphans and churches in Tanzania, we've never had such engagement from those within the church. People wrestled with God's calling to the orphan and presented real life situations that they find themselves in within their own communities. We are finding more and more that God is really working on the hearts of people and we are on the precipice of change in Kilimanjaro.

We saw this even more so earlier this week, when we were invited by our friend Bishop Glorious Shoo to share at one of the opening sessions for the Kilimanjaro Tanzanian Assemblies of God annual meetings. There were upwards of 200 pastors, bishops and church leaders from throughout the region being engaged with true James 1:27 religion as Brandon preached (picture in header). The response after Brandon's message and the subsequent message from Bishop Shoo was remarkable as church leaders from various cities and villages committed to adopt children into their own families, something that is incredibly rare. Below you can see hands raised as people commit before God and one another to take up the cause of the orphan within their own families. 

It's such a blessing to see this important message taking root in Kilimanjaro. We are going to keep striking while the kettle is hot and are having our first ever Kingdom Families Orphan Care and Adoption Conference on July 25th. We've already had numerous sign-ups and the church leaders and families that attend are going to get a full-day hearing God's heart for the orphan. We ask that you would lift this day up in prayer. This is uncharted territory, but we continue to pursue God's heart for the orphans and for His church to be empowered.

Tanzanian Leaders engaged and committed to orphan care

Bethany Global Update

In our last update back in March, we shared about the exciting partnership that we're entering into with Bethany Global Consulting. Bethany's family-based care model is unmatched throughout world missions and we're excited to partner with them. In our last update, we shared that we had started building towards our fundraising goal of $30,000 to bring out Bethany Master Level Social Workers to assess our current work, then develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to execute it. We are blessed to say that we have raised $12,000 of that goal to date (Praise Jesus!). We are so grateful to the churches that have gotten behind us and this new venture for Kingdom Families: RockHarbor Church of Costa Mesa, The Garden Church of Long Beach and Newport-Mesa Church of Costa Mesa. Thank you all so much! We are still needing more though and would like to have a complete amount before bringing out Bethany representatives so that we can move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 seamlessly. Please consider giving towards this important ministry. You can do so online by clicking here and make the donation for "Kingdom Families Sponsorship." In the comment section, please write "Bethany" so we know how to allocate the funds. Or if you prefer to send a check, please follow the instructions at the bottom of this newsletter. We are of course looking for more church partnerships as well so please contact us if your church is interested or would like more information, 

We are hoping to have Bethany representatives come out in the fall. One of the ways that we want to continue to expand before their arrival is to hire a Tanzanian social worker part-time. We are blessed to work with our Tanzanian colleague Meshak Mrema in this ministry, but as he has myriad responsibilities within Global-Effect and we are also needing someone with a social work background, we are hoping to hire someone soon. Please pray for such decisions and the necessary funds to hire such an important person.

Together with our team at the retreat that Melissa oversaw

Family and Team Update

Last you heard from us, we had a full house as Cyrus Helbling was living with us for nearly three months. We had such a great time being his stand-in mom and dad as his parents were away. At the same time Brandon was serving at Hope International School four days a week, filling in some while Ryan was away. We are so glad to have the whole Helbling family back and Cyrus has transitioned back to his home.

Last month, during a brief period with all long-term missionaries together, we had a full-day retreat and team building time that Melissa coordinated and oversaw. It was a great time focusing on unity within Global-Effect and the whole team was blessed by her efforts.

Promise and Shepherd are doing great and growing everyday. Promise's vocabulary and sentence structure is through the roof and we're so excited for her to start school at the end of next month. Shepherd is a happy, healthy, growing boy. He has almost caught up to his older sister in weight and is learning how to sit up, roll all over the room, verbalize and any day now he'll be crawling. Our family is receiving an extra blessing next month as Melissa's sister, Rebecca will be moving here to teach at Hope International School. You can check out her website here.

Thank You!

We are so grateful for those that remember us in their prayers and with their giving. We are blown away by the generosity and love that God shows us through all of you. We promise to not leave you all hanging again on the newsletter update front. In fact, we're working on something that we anticipate sharing with you after just a couple weeks so stay tuned. Blessings and love to you from Tanzania.

Mungu akubariki,
The Stivers

*To give towards Kingdom Families by check: 
Please make the check payable to "Global-Effect" and write "Kingdom Families - Bethany" or "Kingdom Families - Social Worker" in the memo line. Send your check to: Global-Effect, PO Box 992856, Redding CA 96099.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kingdom Families Partnerships

We are so blessed to be back home in Moshi following our four month baby furlough in the states. God has added to our family and we're excited to step into this new season of life, family and ministry. Thank you to all those that remembered us, came and saw us and continue to support us. We're excited to share with all of you in this (somewhat overdue) newsletter.

Kingdom Families Partnering with Bethany Global
One of the most exciting developments coming out of our furlough is a new partnership with Bethany Global, which is the missions branch of Bethany Christian Services. We shared briefly in our last email how we had gained contact with them through Johnny Carr and an Orange County missions pastor. Since then, we've been able to be in continuous contact with Ruth Olsson who is a Strategic Partnership Consultant for Bethany and we are now entering into a formal partnership through their program Bethany Consulting.

In a nutshell, by us partnering with Bethany Global, we'll be able to learn how to best run our own program with excellence and have Bethany fill in the places that we need most. We are specifically going to receive program structuring, capacity building, training and oversight for those families, staff and pastors involved as well as other types of technical assistance. All of this begins with the Phase 1 of Assessment and then moves onto Phase 2 - Program Growth and Oversight.

We couldn't be more excited about this opportunity and hope that our support team back in the states and here in Tanzania will be as well. One of our biggest needs within this, is more financial partners specifically for the Kingdom Families project. We, personally, have a handful of very faithful and generous supporters for our family as missionaries. But we have many more in our online and California church and friends base that are not currently supporting us or Kingdom Families. If you would like to support us in our new endeavor of getting Tanzanian orphans into Christian families, please don't hesitate. Bethany Consulting has given us a project quote of $7,000 for Phase 1 and $13,000 to $20,000 for Phase 2 (the cost will depend on the findings of Phase 1). We know that $30,000 is nothing to God and the church that He has empowered. Please consider giving towards this groundbreaking project. You can do so online by clicking here and make the donation for "Kingdom Families Sponsorship." In the comment section, please write "Bethany" so we know how to allocate the funds. Or if you prefer to send a check, please follow the instructions at the bottom of this newsletter. We're also looking for church partnerships for the program, so if you think your congregation would be interested in this missions partnership, please let us know. If you'd like more info on Kingdom Families, our current families or the partnership with Bethany Global, please email us at We cannot run Kingdom Families on our own and we appreciate each person that plays a part through giving. Thank you!

Family Update
Our family has gotten back into the swing of things quite quickly around here. Our little Shepherd is almost four months old and doing great. He's already rolling over and we know he'll be mobile in no time. Promise is so happy to be home and is right back into the swing of things. Her next milestone will be getting potty-trained and we've already signed her up for preschool at Hope International School starting in September.

Our family has an extra blessing right now as we're caring for our "nephew" Cyrus. Cyrus is the adopted son of our directors and dear friends Ryan and Stacy Helbling. The Helbling family have had to travel to the states to attend to things there both for family and Global-Effect, but unfortunately weren't able to bring Cyrus along, despite countless attempts to get him a visa (the adoption process here can often be tiring and convoluted). So as they're away till the end of May, Cyrus is living with us and being a great big brother to Promise and Shep. We're so happy to have him.

Promise, Cyrus and Shepherd after church last Sunday
Would You Sponsor This Family?
One of the most important things we’re focusing on right now for Kingdom Families is getting the program more financially viable. The cost of sponsorship for having children in families is a fraction of what it costs to have them in an orphanage, however it does still cost money. 

Our largest family right now is in a district of Moshi called Pasua. The parents are Michael and Dorothia and they have four foster children through Kingdom Families: Ezekiel, Luka, Zaina and Edita. Though they’ve been taking care of the kids for sometime they’ve never been fully sponsored and even a couple of the sponsors they had in the past have since dropped off. Right now their family requires eight shares of support, though only two are taken. One share is $50 and that means we’re looking for another $300 per month to get this family fully supported. Would you be one of those $50 a month sponsors? The sponsorships help cover the rent, utilities, food and other common items, as well as school fees and medical expenses. The eldest, Ezekiel, just for his own school fees requires $550 per year, that’s one support share right there! Please consider investing in this family and let’s see them fully supported this week. 

Thank you all for following along with our family. We know that God is bringing us into deeper levels of His grace and our destiny, we appreciate those of you that have come alongside us for the journey. We have so much more that we could share but we’ll save it for our next newsletter and updates on Facebook. God bless you!

Brandon, Melissa, Promise, Shepherd (& Cyrus)

*To give towards Kingdom Families by check:
Please make the check payable to "Global-Effect" and write "Kingdom Families - Bethany" or "Kingdom Families - Michael/Dorothia" in the memo line. Send your check to: Global-Effect, PO Box 992856, Redding CA 96099.

Friday, November 21, 2014

California Furlough: Kingdom Families and Our Family

It has been a busy time in California since we arrived a month ago. We're so grateful for those that we've been able to see and connect with, both new friends and old friends. We're excited to see God moving during this season both in our family and as we continue endeavoring for Kingdom Families in Tanzania.

Kingdom Families Promo Video
We put together a little four minute video sharing our vision and passion for Kingdom Families and what God is doing through family based orphan care in Kilimanjaro. We'd love if you'd check it out and share it with others.

Kingdom Families from Brandon Stiver on Vimeo.

Connecting with Partners
We have been so grateful for several opportunities over the last month to share our vision and the passion God has given us for sustainable family-based orphan care. The most encouraging thing has been feedback from friends and supporters that voice their support of our project with Kingdom Families.

Equally so, it's been great to hear from other proponents of this model that are doing the same thing on a larger scale. This was certainly the case when we were able to learn from and converse with Johnny Carr who is a leading orphan care advocate among churches through his ministry Orphan Justice. We were able to connect with Johnny as he was the keynote speaker at the Welcoming Children Home Conference in San Luis Obispo on November 8th. Brandon enjoyed teaching one of the workshops at the conference, but our highlight was getting the conversation time with Johnny. We are hoping that it proves a fruitful connection as we've been able to connect with him through email as well and he's giving us important contact with Bethany Christian Services whom he worked for. Bethany Christian Services has a large scale program that has the same aim as ours and is in 14 different international countries, including five in Africa. We are also getting connected to Bethany through a contact we're receiving from the missions pastor at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, whom we were also blessed to meet with this last week. We are really hoping to learn from and partner with others as much as possible to see more and more orphaned children placed in Christian homes in Kilimanjaro.

Us with orphan care author and advocate Johnny Carr
We also had a great time sharing at three different churches so far and have had great feedback from people. We're really hopeful that this brief time in the states provides us with the boost that we need to propel this ministry into an exciting new season of expansion in 2015. We spent three weeks with First Baptist Church in Los Osos, two of which we were able to serve through preaching and leading worship. We also got to connect with our supporting church The Garden in Long Beach on the 9th and subsequently with their staff the following Wednesday. The church was so gracious and generous towards us and we thank God for their continued partnership. This past Sunday we were a part of Orphan Sunday at Newport Mesa Church in Costa Mesa. We were able to share during both services, connect with people in between services and enjoyed a great sermon from orphan care advocate and pastor, Mark Orphan (yes, that's his real name).

Family Update
It's been great to spend time with family and friends since being back and also prepare for our son's birth in under two weeks. One of the biggest reasons we came back at this time was to receive better health care for Melissa and the baby at a California hospital. We had also hoped that this would make Melissa having a VBAC still an option. However, now that we're back and have gotten things squared away with insurance and doctors, we have found out that with our options for physicians and hospitals, a scheduled c-section is our only realistic option. While this wasn't our original plan, we are relieved to now know what the plan is. Therefore, the c-section date for the delivery is on Monday, December 1st. Your prayers are so appreciated!

We are also grateful to have a car currently which we're borrowing from a dear pastor friend. We're also very blessed to be house-sitting for friends through the end of December. The timing couldn't be better as it lets us settle in for the two weeks before delivery and have our own space for that first month of his life. We're also happy that it's located just outside Paso Robles making it easier to visit Melissa's family in Los Osos and Brandon's family in Paso Robles.

Promise with her cousin Quinten (their grandparents on Skype on the tablet)

The next time you hear from us, our son will be among us and we look forward to sharing this blessing with all of you. We can hardly wait to see what he looks like and and tell everyone the name that we've chosen for him. We have much to be thankful for and hope that your time of thanksgiving with family is so blessed this coming week. God is good!

Brandon, Melissa, Promise and Baby Boy 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Year in Review

On Tuesday, our little family is going to board a plane and close out this season of ministry in Tanzania. As we reflect on all God has done since we returned here in January, we are so thankful for his faithfulness. This has been a year of great growth for us as a family and as a ministry team. We came back to Tanzania with lots of thoughts on life and ministry and some of them came to fruition and some didn't, but we are so grateful that God has brought His plan to pass in our lives. We are happy to complete this ministry term and even more excited to pick back up where we left off when we return to Tanzania in February.

Kingdom Families: Michael and Dorothia with their four foster children (Ezekiel, Luka, Zaina, Edita), one granddaughter and a neighbor child

Kingdom Families
In June, our ministry took a big turn as we decided to get right back into orphan care and take over Global-Effect's orphan care project. Kingdom Families is all about partnering and empowering Tanzanian families to take care of the orphan crisis in their own midst. We are so very proud of this project and excited to lead this movement in Kilimanjaro as we look to expand in 2015. Right now we have two families in the program (Above you'll see one of our families). The children in these families are growing up with a quintessential Tanzanian upbringing and know the love of a father and mother. That is what the Kingdom of God is all about.

Our main focuses thus far have been advocacy in local churches, administration (including sponsorships) and establishing a relationship with the welfare department. We are happy to report that we have accomplished all that was in our heart for this season and God has put us in a position to start adding families and children after we return from our furlough. We have coordinated and preached at four churches in the area from which we'll draw families to the movement. We've established our file and a good relationship with the welfare department which will be our primary means of receiving children that are truly in need. We've added a couple new American sponsors and begun reaching out to existing sponsors as we channel funds for the children and the parents that are taking care of them. It has been a blessing to see God working through the details.

Brandon and our assistant director Meshak preaching at one of our partnering churches

Melissa taking sponsorship photos of one of our families
Other Ministries
Aside from Kingdom Families, we've had some other wonderful opportunities to serve through Global-Effect. It's our heart to make disciples in this nation that will change the world and we're seeing that happen.

Youth Prison Ministry
One of the things that Brandon has loved over the last few months has been teaching through the Gospel of Mark at the youth prison in Moshi. Matthew 25 talks about Jesus' heart for the least of these and that includes those that are imprisoned. What a honor and a joy to be able to go and preach the gospel especially as several of the youth have shown to be receptive to the message. When Brandon was there last week, there were a number of new youth and while that might seem discouraging, we take it as an opportunity to expose more souls to the good news of Christ. Our friend Brian (who started the ministry) will be taking it back over when he returns with his family next month, but we intend to continue to partner in this impactful ministry.

Fountain of Grace
Back in March, we were able to participate in the ministry Fountain of Grace which Global-Effect started in partnership with other missionary organizations at work in Kilimanjaro. Through this ministry, we invite and fully cover a weekend's stay for local ministers and their wives to be refreshed and have true sabbath from their tireless work. Normally our director Ryan oversees the worship portion of the event, but as he was off on furlough the other missionaries asked if we would step in. It was a delight to minister to these pastors that are on the front lines of God's Kingdom in Tanzania. We saw God do wonderful things and we look forward to helping out with the next ministry event after our furlough.

Brandon leading worship at Fountain of Grace in Moshi

Hope International School
Throughout this year we've maintained involvement with Hope International School, which is the largest of Global-Effect's various projects. HOPE is now in it's third year and the student body continues to grow and diversify. It is a wonderful community to be a part of. Over the last year, both Melissa and Brandon have had stints of substitute teaching and Brandon has helped with admin work especially in regards to the website. We're excited to see how God continues to bless and direct this ministry and service. Pray continued favor over the school as Ryan and the staff look for land to purchase and move the school to starting September 2015.

Media Ministry
We shared a couple newsletters ago about different opportunities that we've had to get behind other people's ministries and help them tell the stories that God's writing in their lives. One of the amazing things about the internet is that we can use photos, videos and other mediums to share with friends and supporters back in the states what God's doing out here. We know it is always an encouragement to those that get to read. We've gotten to produce media and share with others for several ministries including Kimbilio Girl's Home, Fountain of Grace, Hope International School, House of Victory (photo below) and missionary families here in Moshi.

Summer Teams and Interns
Definitely the busiest time of this year was the summer when we hosted three different short term teams from California. At one point, we had 34 college students and staff from Vanguard University (Brandon's alma mater) and Ryan had put us in charge of coordinating all their events over a month's period of time. It was pretty wild, but we saw God touch the lives of the students as they came here to serve. It is an eye-opening experience coming to Tanzania and we are blessed to have these partnerships with the university and church teams that come out. Without a doubt, our favorite part was having five wonderful interns (four from Vanguard and one from Fuller Seminary) that we were able to pour into and establish good friendships with. Those are some that we look forward to seeing back in California!

Us with our four Vanguard interns: Anela, Bri, Edith and Cynthia

It has been a busy year and we're looking forward to more that God has coming for us and Global-Effect in the future. We're excited for this season in the states and the opportunity to keep telling the stories of what God is doing out here. Thank you to all that have supported this year and all that will continue to support us. We thank God for increase, increase in our ministry, increase in our community support base and increase in our family as we become four strong. We believe God has good things over the coming four and a half months in the states and we look forward to seeing you there.

We love you and thank God for you. See you in California!

Brandon, Melissa, Promise and Baby Boy Stiver

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Just TWO Weeks Left! - Stiver Family Newsletter

It's hard to believe how fast time is flying by around here! It's been an exciting year of life and ministry in the Kilimanjaro Region since we returned here in January. As if that's not exciting enough, in a little over two weeks we'll be back in California, and only a couple months after that we'll be welcoming our baby boy into this world! We are so blessed by the support we've received this year as we've been able to contribute to several ministries this year. This especially is the case as we've been establishing our Kingdom Families program and preparing for expansion in early 2015. We're excited to share a couple updates with you as we begin closing out this year of ministry in Tanzania.

Kingdom Families Update
We are so thrilled for what's happening with Kingdom Families. Since our newsletter update on the project a month and a half ago, we've seen a couple really wonderful things take place. The first of which, we've added a fourth local partnering church to our program. The pastor and his wife (who is an American missionary friend), Lewis and Jill, have been a blessing to our ministry and have a very similar dream for orphan care. They in fact are trying to get a similar ministry going called "Ndoto Yetu" which is Swahili for "Our Dream." They are perfect people to partner with and Jill has shared with us some prospective families and ideas she's had for orphan care. Their church has two campuses, one that Brandon preached at two weeks ago and the other that he will be speaking at this Sunday.

The other exciting thing that has happened with Kingdom Families is that we've opened up an official file with the Social Welfare Department here in Moshi. This is a very important first step as we look to add more orphaned children and Welcoming Families in the coming months. The officer that has been helping us, a woman named Mama Mboya, said that the Social Welfare Department could potentially start calling us with kids that need homes as soon as the start of the year! God has given us so much favor as Brandon and Meshak (our Tanzanian Assistant Director) have met with Mama Mboya a couple times. We thank God for her and ask that you would pray blessings and continued favor for Kingdom Families with Mama Mboya and the rest of the Social Welfare office.

Promise got all dressed up for our visit to the Social Welfare Department in Moshi a couple weeks ago
Hope International School
This month, Hope International School, a project of Global-EFFECT, began its third year of schooling here in Moshi. As this is a large GE project, we ourselves have helped out in different ways at the school. Brandon has been the webmaster for the school over the last year and Melissa recently stepped into a larger role early in the school year as the staff set up its preschool. Melissa was able to use her ECE experience/education by bringing oversight and training for the preschool teachers. And when one of the teachers had to return to the states unexpectedly, Melissa stepped in as a lead teacher during the transition time. This has actually been our first week off from the school as we are now preparing for our own transition into baby furlough. Hope International School is a really fun community to be a part of as children and families come from so many different cultural and religious backgrounds to gain a quality education. 

The school is actually still hiring more teachers from the states for the current school year. If you or someone you know, might be interested in teaching in Tanzania this year - even starting as early as October. While most Christian international schools require teachers to fundraise all costs that they might have, all the necessities for teaching at HOPE International School are covered: housing, airfare and the like. You can find out more by going to the website,

Students playing basketball during P.E. at Hope International School
Personal Update and Upcoming Furlough
We have started to set things in order on our home front here in Tanzania while also trying to set things up for our time in California. We had a momentous push towards Promise's birthday last weekend and are now full steam ahead toward our furlough time. We have a few larger speaking engagements already penned in on our calendar and have begun setting up other meetings with smaller groups. We'd love to catch up with you over coffee, in your small group, or at your church, so please contact us! We'd love to be able to work out a meeting of any sort. If you're living in or near the Central Coast or in southern California, we'll be near you at some point. So lets connect! 

Listed below, you can see some engagements that we've already scheduled, but we still have plenty of dates on the calendar to fill. If you're on the Central Coast, we'll be around October 16th through November 8th and then again from Thanksgiving onward. During the holidays and baby's birth, we'll be lying low, but could potentially schedule something in late January into February before returning to Tanzania. If you live in southern California, we'll be near you from November 9th till November 25th. If you want to check out a few sermons that Brandon's given in the past, just click here.

Our biggest needs right now are a car to borrow for the duration of our time. We'd even be interested in renting or buying one on the cheap. We also need a place to stay on the Central Coast from Thanksgiving till late February (three months). 

Here are some speaking engagements that you can catch us at:

Sunday, October 26th - First Baptist Church, Los Osos, CA 9:30am & 11am
FBC Los Osos is one of our supporting churches and we're excited to share with this congregation that we really have a heart for. This is the church that Melissa grew up in and Brandon worked at for a year.

Saturday, November 8th - Welcoming Children Home Conference at Grace Church, San Luis Obispo, CA 8:30am - 4pm
This is an opportunity that we're really excited about as Brandon will be teaching a workshop on international orphan care. It's a full day event that we've attended in the past and they really do a fantastic job. The keynote speaker is Johnny Carr, author of Orphan Justice. Sign up for this conference by checking out their website,

Sunday, November 9th - The Garden Church, Long Beach, CA 9:15am & 11am
We'll be sharing at our beloved church in Long Beach. They've been a supporting church of ours since Brandon first moved to Tanzania five years ago. Come hear a little from us, but also enjoy amazing worship and time in the word with this wonderful community.

Sunday, December 5th - Cayucos Community Church, Cayucos, CA 10am
We were blessed to connect with this church last year just before our return to Tanzania. They have a delightful congregation and we're so excited to see them again.

Thanks for reading!! We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully seeing you soon!!

The Stivers in Tanzania

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Prison Ministry, Media Ministry and Upcoming Furlough

During our last newsletter, we wanted to emphasize our main ministry, Kingdom Families, throughout the newsletter. But we actually had more that we wanted to share! It has always been on our heart to do discipleship and storytelling through our ministry here and we've had wonderful opportunity to be doing both over the last few months.

Youth Prison Ministry
Brandon: Back in June, we had one of our teams here from Vanguard University and a missionary friend of ours approached us about an opportunity for the team to serve with him at the youth prison here in Moshi. They did it two consecutive Saturdays and the second of which, the interpreter fell through so I ended up sticking around and interpreting the devotional into Swahili. While I was there, I really connected with the young people that were in the facility. Shortly thereafter, I asked my missionary friend that's been leading it, if he was looking for someone to partner with him as I was interested. He was excited that I asked, especially as he was coming up on a four month furlough in the states and had no one to fill in. I was glad to join alongside him.

So since July now, I've been taking a team of students from Fountain of Hope Christian Secondary School and we go over to the prison for a couple hours on Saturdays. We do games with them and then I teach out of Mark's Gospel account. It has been such a blessing. There are normally between 8-12 youth at the facility (only one of which is a girl) and they are eager to learn from God's word and pray. We all look forward to our time together and I can really tell that some of the students are having good roots put down. One of the young men, Kelvin, has even taken on the nickname "pastor" from the others at the facility.

When we first returned to Tanzania back in January, we had planned on a starting discipleship ministry in Kilimanjaro among college students. With us jumping right back into orphan care and taking on Kingdom Families, those plans have had to be shelved, but I'm really loving this different form of discipleship. Anytime you have an opportunity to minister to Jesus like in Matthew 25, you've got to take it! Several of the youth at the prison have only come to faith in Christ recently through this ministry, so being able to encourage them with the word every week has been fulfilling to my own soul and something that I hope to continue in after we return from our furlough.

Photo taken from outside the youth detention facility (I don't take photos inside)
Media Ministry
One of the exciting things about being in Kilimanjaro is the wonderful missionary community that we get to be a part of. Each of has our own projects that we work on, but it's a blessing to be able to get behind what other people are doing as well. We've recently had the opportunity to do media for friends that are doing great work here and help them share the story that God's writing in their lives and through their ministry.

Kimbilio Girls Home
A few weeks ago, we traveled out to the village of Mtakuja where Global-Effect is developing land and we shot a promo video for our good friend, Vickie Hemman. Vickie is establishing a home for girls rescued out of prostitution and abusive situations. Her home is nearly finished with the construction stage and will be prepared to start taking girls in early 2015. Melissa did all the facility shots at Kimbilio Girls Home and Brandon did the direction and production for the video. Check it out below.

Kimbilio Girls Home from Build This Kingdom Productions on Vimeo.

House of Victory
Some friends approached us about having Melissa come out to their ministry in a small village outside Moshi to do some photos for a fundraising campaign that they're doing. House of Victory is a very new ministry that has been spearheaded by the church, International Christian Center and a few local missionaries with whom we're friends. The ladies that are at House of Victory have been rescued from prostitution on the streets of Moshi. There are currently nine women at the home, several of which have children as well. Our friends are doing fundraising for the project through crowd funding and needed nice shots of the ladies. The caveat is that the women's photos could not include their face as the home is a safe haven and certain people from their past life can't find out where they are. Melissa had her work cut out for her and came up with some amazing shots. Her inspiration was from John 8 when Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery and her accusers dropped their stones. Instead of the stones being meant for shame and death, Jesus gives these women new stones of truth; beloved, beautiful, cherished. We included a few shots below.

Furlough in California
We are happy to report that we've secured our dates and flights for our baby boy furlough in California. We'll be landing at LAX on October 15th and will be returning to Kilimanjaro on February 25th. We hope to see you during this time! We are believing that this baby boy and this furlough are coming right at the perfect time and we'll be especially blessed to spend the holidays with our family. It'll be two months till his birth and two months afterwards we'll come home to Tanzania. 

We'll be spending time on the central coast and in southern California. We have begun taking dates for speaking and would love to hear from you and speak at your church, small group or other community gathering. We'll be on the central coast initially for a few weeks and then in southern California for over two weeks in mid-November. We'll be back on the central coast over the holidays and when our little man-cub is born just before Christmas. We're preferring to schedule speaking engagements before he arrives so hit us up about October and November! You can contact us at

Check Out Our Blogs!
Aside from our newsletters and what you see on Facebook, staying up on our blogs is a great way to hear our thoughts and stay up with our family and ministry. Melissa has been a consistent blogger and you can find her blogging at The Beauty of Becoming. Brandon has started writing again on his site, Build This Kingdom, and just recently posted a two-part series on orphan care, comparing the orphanage system with what we do at Kingdom Families. 

We look forward to seeing you soon starting next month. Please do contact us as we'll only be in California for a little over four months and want to make sure we spend time with each of our friends and supporters. 

Brandon, Melissa, Promise, Baby #2, Dodger and Puppy #2

That's right, we got a new puppy, still figuring out a name for her

Friday, August 22, 2014

Story Time with Promise

A little look into our nightly Bible reading time with Promise. She loves reading the Bible, can't go a day without us reading it together.

 If you watch the video and decide you want to help us with our upcoming travel costs, we'd really appreciate it! You can give online by clicking here and just designate 'Brandon and Melissa Stiver' in the dialogue box. You can also send a check if you prefer. Make it out to 'Global-Effect' and write 'BMS' on the memo line. Send the check to Global-Effect, PO Box 992856, Redding, CA 96099. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Introducing Kingdom Families

Over the last month or two, you've probably seen us posting a lot on Facebook about our new program called Kingdom Families. We are so excited to share with all of you in more detail about this program that we are so passionate about! When we returned to Tanzania back in January, we knew that our long term vision was to get back into orphan care and we are now so blessed to inherit this wonderful ministry that God is increasingly using in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. 

The Overview of Kingdom Families
The focus of Kingdom Families is all about empowerment. Empowering individuals while partnering with local churches and families to be the solution to the orphan crisis in Kilimanjaro, TZ. The Kilimanjaro Region is one of the highest HIV infected areas in Tanzania, hence, having a lot of orphaned children in need of families. This is where we come in! What we do is facilitate Tanzanian Christian families, known as "Welcoming Families", to bring in children into their homes, making these children sons and daughters. As you may know, we've been a part of a great orphanage here in Moshi in the past, but the Kingdom Families model goes a step beyond the orphanage system and avoids some of the inevitable drawbacks of orphanage facility (staff turnover, high expenses to keep the facility running, children that grow up only knowing a small portion of the Tanzanian society in which they live, etc).

At Kingdom Families, our goal is to provide training, oversight, discipleship, family sponsorships, and maintain a good standing relationship with the social welfare department in Tanzania. Our team partnerships then helps us to find children who have been orphaned and/or abandoned. Our hope is to have already trained, capable, and ready parents (AKA our "Welcoming Families") who are anticipating their child match. We then empower that family, by placing children into their care, to use their God-ordained ability as parents to raise those children. Our goal for these children is to not only know the love of true parents and continue to be immersed in depth of their rich Tanzanian culture, but most importantly, know what it means to be loved and adopted by the Lord Himself. As the children are growing and adapting into their new family environment, our Kingdom Families team helps the parents in any way, checking on the families well being and making sure that their transition is going as smoothly as possible. We then have frequent "check in's" with the families, facilitated by our Tanzanian team members who oversee the care of the parents and children. 
Melissa sharing a word at the EAGT Worship Center in Bomang'ombe

Advocacy in Tanzanian Churches
Over the last four Sundays, we have spent three of those Sundays preaching and sharing in churches (the other Sunday we were hosting a team at a local church). We've been sharing about our adoption to God the Father (as explained in Romans 8) and calling fellow believers to take up our collective call to care for the orphans in our midst. We celebrate the true and undefiled religion that James speaks of in James 1:27 and are imparting that passion to those around us. 

Before speaking at each of these churches, we've sat down with each of the pastors and their wives to share our vision and seek the partnership that they can offer from their church fellowship. We thank God for these wonderful pastors, many of whom we've had relationships with for quite some time. We know that we can trust them as well as their judgment, and can rely on their insight and advice for the program as well as the oversight over their own church families. So far we've entered into partnership with: Pastor Unity (a Global-Effect board member and long-time friend) and his church called Voice of Victory in Njoro district of Moshi; Pastor Eli (a close friend and the former assistant director from our time at Treasures of Africa) at the EAGT Worship Center in Bomang'ombe (a city 30 minutes west of Moshi); and Pastor Joseph at Philadelphia Church in Uchira (a village 30 minutes east of Moshi). We are so blessed by each of their partnerships! And to top off these incredible partnerships, Pastor Joseph (whom we mentioned above) and his wife, Neema, have even committed to being our next Kingdom Families foster parents! God is so faithful! 

Brandon (and Promise) preaching at Voice of Victory Church in Njoro, Moshi
The Families
Since Kingdom Families (formerly Kimbilio Families) has been a small project of Global-Effect over the last few years, there are already a couple families that are in the program. Between the two Welcoming Families, we have five children. It's been such a delight to visit these two families and establish our own, personal relationships with them. We are blessed with wonderful Welcoming Families Parents that have taken these children in as their own. Currently we have a pastor and his wife (Michael and Dorothia) who have taken in four children into their home in the Pasua district of Moshi. The children, from youngest to oldest, are Edita, Zaina, Luka and Ezekiel. We also have a little girl (who is two years old) named Amazing. Amazing was orphaned at birth and is now cared for by her recently widowed grandmother in a village called Weruweru (about ten minutes west of Moshi). We thank God for these families, these children, and the American sponsors that have taken them on. We are very much looking forward to adding new families and children into our program after we return following our upcoming furlough.

Melissa taking sponsorship photos of 2 year old Amazing. We got her sponsored this week!
Michael and Dorothia with two of their foster children, Luka and Edita

The (Growing) Stiver Family
As you all know by now, we are expecting baby #2 in mid-December and after much thought, have decided to deliver back in California. We are really looking forward to growing God's Kingdom by growing our own small family. Melissa is now 23 weeks pregnant and tomorrow on our Facebook page, we will be sharing for the first time the gender of our baby!! (We can hardly wait for our gender reveal party tonight!) Our plan for our furlough is to be in the states from mid-October till late February. 

Travelling between Tanzania and California is quite expensive--even in a "good" travel month like October. Since Promise will turn two just weeks before we take off, she will be required to have her own seat on the plane. Brandon visited with our travel agent just this morning and the best seats, which are currently on hold for us till Saturday, are $5,260 round trip for three spots (luckily baby #2 will fly for free on our return to Kilimanjaro). Needless to say, that is a lot of money and we don't have all of it. We would love your prayer and financial assistance as we would like to book these tickets soon, but don't have all the money yet. We've copied the giving information below for those that are choosing to come alongside us. All gifts are, of course, tax deductible.

Online Giving Change
If you have read any of our recent newsletters, then you have undoubtedly heard us talk about the change between our online giving provider (I promise this will be the last time!). :) We had several headaches getting rid of our inferior provider and are so happy to now be with BlueFire/Halo Pays. We had several supporters that were double charged because didn't end their service when they were supposed to. We are so very sorry for that! We're glad to say that it's all behind us now. Any of our supporters that were billed after June 20th should have been refunded and all recurring donations through have been cancelled. That's good news for our supporters! But not automatically good news for us as not all of our monthly supporters have switched over to the new system with BlueFire/Halo Pays. Therefore, our donations have been down the last couple months. :( We want you to know that it is now safe to sign up for BlueFire/Halo Pays and we encourage you, whether you were already giving as a monthly supporter or want to start today, to click the link and set it up right now. We have the big travel expense coming up and could use your help! Thanks for those that have given, are giving and will give towards us and our ministry in Tanzania!

Give online by clicking here and walking through the simple step by step giving dialogue boxes.  Be sure to designate your gift for 'Brandon and Melissa Stiver' and if you're making it a recurring donation, check that box. It'll only take five minutes, promise.

Send a Check
Make it payable to 'Global-EFFECT' and write 'BMS' on the memo line. They will know to credit it to our ministry account. Please do not write our name anywhere on the check.

Send the check to:
Global Effect
PO Box 992856
Redding, CA 96099

Thank You!
We appreciate your friendship, love and support so much. We hope hearing about Kingdom Families has gotten you excited as we ourselves are very excited. Be sure to stay up to date with us on Facebook and on our website. We love you and we bless you in the name of Jesus.

Brandon, Melissa, Promise, Baby #2 and Dodger (our dog)

Our family outside after the service at Voice of Victory Church

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Mission Teams in Moshi

Summer Missions Teams
The last month has been a very fast, very busy time for us over here in Moshi.  When summer rolls around, our normal activities get a bit shifted as we welcome summer short term teams and interns to join us at Global-Effect. It's a good opportunity to welcome outsiders into our ministry and our lives and hopefully forge new ministry partnerships for the future as well. 

So far, we've had two teams that came from Vanguard University of Southern California (Brandon's alma mater) as well as four interns. Leading up to their arrival, our directors had us in charge of setting their entire ministry schedule, preparing their housing and coordinating with pastors and translators for the different activities. There is a lot that goes into it! The first team arrived on May 22nd and spent over two weeks here. The second team arrived on June 4th and for almost a week, between both teams and the four interns, we had 34 students and staff from Vanguard serving under Global-Effect.

While they were here, we helped with leading ministries, driving, translating and hosting a few of the students in our home. There were various ministries that the teams participated in and we know that they were touched by God as they experienced life here. We had them serving in churches on Sundays, doing evangelism in town, leading children's activities and ministries out in the village and in an impoverished district in Moshi, one of the teams got to serve in the youth prison (and led a young man to Christ!), and they all served at Hope International School. If you scroll down you'll see a few photos from our teams.

God has burdened us for the people of Tanzania and yet we still hold young Americans in our heart as well. This was such a blessing to facilitate not only the ministries that the teams did, but also have a hand in their discipleship. We hope that many of them continue to partner with us at Global-Effect in greater measure. 

One of our interns, Brianna, leading at a children's outreach in the village of Mtakuja
Back Into The Swing of Things
With the teams now having returned to California and our directors, Ryan and Stacy, back from California (they returned from furlough only two days before the first team arrived), we are able to get back into the more normal groove of life and focus on our main ministries; orphan care and youth discipleship. 

We took on the orphan care project (formerly known as Kimbilio Families) while Ryan and Stacy were in California, so up to this point we hadn't had opportunity to begin the process of revamping the ministry. Now that they're here and the teams are gone, we've begun to discuss the new name for the ministry and what our plan of action is. As we said in a previous newsletter, there are currently only five children placed between two families. We want to see that grow and for that to happen there has to be a change in culture in the  Tanzanian Church, as well as godly parents willing to open their homes and be parents to the orphaned. There will never be enough orphanages (which isn't the ideal anyways) or NGO programs to care for the 3 million orphans in this country; and really it's God's heart that the Church would rise up to be the answer to the orphan crisis. Starting in July, we'll be visiting different churches on Sundays and Brandon will preach on God's heart for adoption and orphan care. This is the first step in finding families that would work within our program, and also to encourage churches within themselves to take the plight of the orphan seriously. In our next newsletter we'll talk about this in more detail. 

In regards to discipleship, we are so blessed to have an opportunity to pastor our four wonderful young interns that have given their summers to come serve at Global-Effect. One of the best ways we get to do this, is by having these young women over for dinner and teaching a Bible study for them twice a week. This is proving to be a great way to pour into them, as they pour into the campers at Hope International School Discovery Camp. We love having short term teams come through, but we REALLY love our interns and are enjoying living life together with them this summer.

Additionally, Brandon had the opportunity to teach a session at the annual youth seminar at Voice of Victory Church in Njoro district of Moshi. Our dear friends Pastor Unity and his wife Grace, have been a blessing to us over the years and we were honored to come and share with the 200 youth that assembled from all over Kilimanjaro. It is our delight to see a church building full of young people hungry for the word of God and to fan the flame and the calling that God has put on each of their lives. 
We led a team for a children's playground ministry in Njoro. It was a great opportunity for us to serve and also partner with other missionary organizations that oversee this ongoing ministry.
 Online Support is Changing!
Many of our supporters give online and we are in the process of changing to a different provider. The change is for the better as we've had issues with our previous online support provider. Many of our online donations from (our old provider) have gone through for June. Nonetheless, as has been giving us headaches trying to end the service, we ask our supporters to stay tuned as we transition to the new provider BlueFire/Halo Pays. Sorry for any inconvenience, we assure you we are equally frustrated with this much needed switch. If you're ready to renew please take two minutes to do so, or if you haven't given before and would like to join our team, please click the link as well! We have some major expenses coming up (rent and travel) and could use your help. Be sure to designate "Brandon and Melissa Stiver (BMS)" on your giving. Just click here.

If you prefer to send a check: Make it out to Global-Effect and write "BMS" on the memo line. Send it to Global-Effect, PO Box 992856, Redding CA 96099
GE Short Term Team serving at Fountain of Hope Nursery (a combination boarding school/orphanage)
Thanks for all your love and support. We'd love to hear from you too! Email us at
Brandon, Melissa, Promise and Baby #2

Outreach at the elementary school in Mtakuja

Thanks to Kayli Hillebrand and Amanda Fort for the photos for this newsletter.