Thursday, March 23, 2017

Preparing for Greater Things - March 2017

Preparing for Greater Things

 A season of transition in Moshi

As 2017 started, God gave us words that would serve as a theme for what to expect in this new year. God spoke "Growth" to Brandon and "Arise" to Melissa. We are expecting great things in this year for Kingdom Families and for us personally. We're excited to share some of those things with you in this newsletter, but wanted to first let you know how you can be praying for us personally.

We're leaning into God's faithfulness as we see big changes take place right before our eyes within our community of friends. Moshi has always been a transient community as far as westerners go, so this isn't too much of a surprise, but there are a number of friends and co-workers that are moving away from Kilimanjaro currently. Three young couples from within Global-Effect have either already left or are about to leave and that doesn't include our closest friends from the last few years who worked for another NGO. They moved to Texas earlier this month. The last time we saw an exodus of this type was mid-2012. We were actually a part of that transition when we were pregnant with Promise and left Treasures of Africa to live in California again for what became a 20 month period. Building meaningful friendships on the missions field is difficult. We are grateful for our Tanzanian friends and partners, but cultural differences can cause difficulties in friendship. We are also grateful for our western friends and partners too, but having people in and out of our lives also causes difficulties. Right now, we really are feeling that grief and we do ask for your prayers. Compared to goodbyes at other times this difficulty is exacerbated by seeing our kids also have to say goodbye to their friends. Please pray for our friends, the Loudermilk's, the Sherman's, the Conti's and the Batterson's as they all transition to new lives elsewhere.

Saying goodbye to our friends Brian and Mandee Loudermilk with their six children (baby boy in the womb)
as they move to Texas.

Kingdom Families Update


While we see our friends move onto other ventures, we continue to pour ourselves into the work of Kingdom Families as we advocate for the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Kilimanjaro. Our advocacy campaigns in Tanzania which started as speaking in local churches of two dozen or so people are beginning to stretch to other regions through various mediums like newspaper articles, radio broadcasts and online materials.

The biggest venture that we're currently undertaking is an orphan care and adoption scripture commentary written for the East African context. Brandon is authoring it while partners from Kingdom Families/Global-Effect are helping translate. As we develop the material (which is over halfway done) local pastors from our network are offering their own insight to enhance the work. We hope to have the book finished and released by the middle of this year.

Brandon Stiver and Calvin Matowo of Kingdom Families doing edits on the scripture commentary with
Pastor Eli Kiwelu of EAGT Boma'ngombe

Kingdom Families Team

Kingdom Families is in the process of expansion as we are building a team that carries our unique vision and approach to orphan care. We've hired new staff in communications and are currently interviewing social workers to work with our child welfare initiatives. Please pray for God's favor as we want to hire the right person that God has ordained for this position. 

This summer we are also bringing on four wonderful young women to serve as Kingdom Families interns. Their work load will include children's ministry, mental health initiatives, administration and media generation. We'd love for you to head over to the Kingdom Families Website to learn more about Jackie, Edith, Tayler and Reya and what they'll be doing this summer. 

2017 Kingdom Families Interns: Clockwise from Top: Edith Weaver of San Francisco, CA ~ Reya Martinez of
Cedar Park, TX ~ Tayler Lennier of Tracy, CA ~ Jackie Jones of Martinez, CA
As the team grows, we're moving into new physical space too. Another significant venture over the last few months has been renovating our new Kingdom Families Headquarters in town as well as a guesthouse next to our home in Shanty Town for people that come to serve with Kingdom Families. We appreciate those of you that supported and followed along with our building process for the office back in January. In an upcoming newsletter, we'll take you for a look around Kingdom Families HQ.

Join Us

We would be remiss if we didn't take an opportunity to invite you to join us as financial partners in what God is doing through Kingdom Families. We see a tide turning in our country as the hearts of the parents turn to their children and the hearts of the children to their parents. Kingdom Families is a little ship in a big ocean of child welfare, but as the winds change we're excited to be pointed in the direction that sees the lonely set in families. We'd love for you to join us. You can donate towards a specific program like "Book Publishing" or "Local Staff" or just a general donation will go to where our biggest need is currently. 

Once again, we are grateful to have you on our team. We hope that this newsletter finds you well and we'd love for you to stay up with us on Facebook where we post more regularly. Thank you for standing with our family and the many families of Tanzania. 

In Christ,
Brandon, Melissa, Moses, Promise and Shepherd

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Stivers in THE USA! And back to Tanzania...

Our hearts are full as we reflect on the last four months that we got to spend in the states. God ordained many things that we can now look back on with fondness. As these times allow for transitions in life and ministry, we wanted to update all of you on where we've been and where we're going. 

Wisconsin to California and Back Again
Our time in the states was bookended by two stints spending time with family in Wisconsin. Aside from Brandon's parents and sister, we don't really know anyone in the area which gave us ample opportunity for REST, something that we've needed very much. Between the busyness of Tanzania and the busyness of California this was a great place to take a break and enjoy the company.

Once we were in California, we got progressively busier as we traveled around meeting many friends old and new. We're grateful to the family and friends that hosted us between Los Osos, Paso Robles and Long Beach. We are always blown away by the generosity of the families, churches and individuals that we get to interact with. Thank you all so much. 

There were a number of things that we got to do in the states that we don't get chances to living in Tanzania. We enjoyed public libraries and zoos, beaches and lakes, and best of all got to go to a few baseball games (Go Dodgers!) 

The biggest thing though was getting to spend time with family and friends that we are normally disconnected from. This was Moses' first time in the states which was very different for him. He did great and enjoyed meeting so many new loved ones. Shepherd was only 12 weeks when we returned to Tanzania, so it was also very new for him.

A Dodgers win on Father's Day
Partnerships in the States
During our time in the states, we were able to focus and get the word out more about Kingdom Families and the importance of family-based solutions to the orphan crisis in Africa. We were given four opportunities to preach in various churches and it was a great time connecting with those believers. One of the churches that Brandon preached at was The Garden Church of Long Beach, which is our sending church. You can watch/listen to that sermon by clicking here. Or you can also get it from the church's podcast.

In addition to our churches, we were also able to connect with videographers, other non-profits and Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). CAFO is, by far, the largest network of Christian orphan care ministries and they span the entire spectrum of ministry. As they state "CAFO unites 180+ respected organizations and a global network of churches. We labor together in shared initiatives that inspire and equip Christians for effective orphan care, family preservation, adoption and foster care. We work to see the local church in every nation known as the primary answer for the needs of vulnerable children in their midst." We'd love for you to check out their website and see ways that you can get involved with orphans and foster kids in your own neighborhood, even as you're supporting and praying for the orphans here in Tanzania.
community activists with the message of family based care. Among the new partnerships for Kingdom Families was joining the

Preaching at The Blessing Center of Moreno Valley
Kingdom Families Website
We'd love for you to take some time and check out our new website for Kingdom Families. It's another way that we're moving forward to strengthen our ties with partners in the states as well as recruit others that will advocate and support the ministry. Click here to visit

Looking forward
We returned to Tanzania almost two weeks ago and are feeling nice and settled back in our own home. Moses and Promise have resumed classes at Hope International School and we're looking forward to progressing the services of Kingdom Families. 

This year we are aiming to bring on interns that have a heart for orphan care and wish to enhance the work of Kingdom Families here in Tanzania. If you or someone you know is interested, you can learn more and apply here.

We'll also be moving into our in-town office that we'll be sharing with another Global-Effect project called Mosaic Community Development. 

Lastly, a big prayer request is about our residence permit which ends later this month. Please pray for favor as we are applying for a new one. This will be our first time going for residency where papers have to be filed with both labor and immigration. 

Thank you for all your prayers and support. We're grateful for all God has been doing in our lives both here and back in the states. We look forward to staying connected over social media and we also welcome your emails.

The Stivers in Tanzania

Friday, April 15, 2016

Partnering with The Best: Our Time with Bethany Christian Services Global

Kingdom Families & Bethany Christian Services Global
What an incredible term we've had over these last 14 months in Tanzania. From adopting our son Moses to expanding the foundations of our advocacy program to developing new partnerships, it's been a full season! While the adoption was our highlight overall, ministry-wise, we saved the best for last in this past term. Two weeks before leaving for our current furlough we welcomed consultants from Bethany Christian Services Global to come and work with us at Kingdom Families. It was a thrilling time and we're so excited to share our overview!

Kingdom Families in-house meeting with Bethany Global on March 21st
A little about Bethany Global...
Bethany Christian Services is the largest adoption agency in the world and have piloted family-based care and adoption programs in numerous countries worldwide, including five within Africa. Every year, their social service programs are reaching tens of thousands of people throughout the world. They are all about adoption and family-based care, just like us! 

They sent two consultants to assess current Kingdom Families programming and give us directive next steps to see the program become widespread. The first consultant which led most of our meetings and interviews was the Director for Africa Operations, Sebilu Bodja. Sebilu was a part of pioneering Bethany's flagship program in Ethiopia which has seen 120 children get adopted into local Ethiopian families just within the last couple years. Furthermore, there is a wait list of dozens of families that are now waiting for children to be placed into their families--all of this due to the anointed efforts of Bethany's world renowned ministry. The most impressive feat within this is that there has absolutely been no culture or concept of adoption within the communities they worked in and yet God has used Bethany to begin changing cultural mindsets at a very large level. The second consultant was Bethany's Clinical Director Jill Vander Bent from their Michigan offices. Jill oversaw the clinical side of the assessment and also offered valuable training to Global-Effect staff. Jill has also been a part of Bethany's work in Ethiopia and other countries. 

Working with local pastors within the Global-Effect/Kingdom Families network
Working with Bethany Global...
The team from Bethany arrived Sunday March 20th and we hit the ground running for a packed four day schedule. The majority of this trip was focused on assessing Kingdom Families and our current programming. This assessment trip is Phase One of a four phase partnership with Bethany Global. Based on the work that we've already been doing in the region for the last 2 years, Mr. Bodja said that we are already quite a bit ahead of what a normal Phase 1 looks like. With the assessment, the Bethany Global leadership will give us experienced direction and next steps for further building. We can't understate the importance of having this partnership. The Church is designed to have the experienced ones disciple and lead up the novices, and that's what we're embarking on with Bethany. Because of this, it will be for the betterment of orphans and families that we seek to empower in Tanzania.

Jill and Lilian visiting a Kingdom Families foster family
To conduct the assessment, there were a series of interviews to be had with people that have a stake in what we've begun, as well as those that could potentially partner with us. Overall, Bethany Global was gauging the cultural climate and current orphan care landscape to inform us in the best route possible. What we're understanding more and more is that our aim can't be to merely place children into homes instead of orphanages. But rather to establish a culture within the Tanzanian church that embraces adoption and embraces the orphan at risk. To better understand and begin work in Tanzania, our team of six (Brandon, Melissa, Sebilu, Jill, our social worker Jerioth and another social worker Lilian) went around and met with many different people. From social welfare officers to current Kingdom Families foster parents, from orphanage directors to pastors, we ran through the gamut of who is necessary in this process.

Meeting with directors from two different orphanages
The most exciting thing to us is having people to walk alongside us as we push to alter the orphan care landscape in Tanzania. Too often in Tanzania, people are content to leave children on the streets, in orphanages and out of families. Together with Bethany, we're working to stop that. Even those that are serving in orphanage settings acknowledge that it'd be better for children to be raised in loving families instead of the orphanages that they manage, yet there just hasn't been anyone working to make that a reality. We're glad to be filling in that gap for the orphans in Kilimanjaro, and as far as we know, we are the only (and maybe even very first) registered program throughout the entire country of Tanzania who is focusing on family based orphan care. Next week, we'll receive the written report from Sebilu, Jill and their team at Bethany Global and then begin taking the necessary next steps within the process to begin Phase Two. 
As we're currently in the states, we'd love the opportunity to speak with you, your community and church about caring for orphans and empowering communities in Tanzania. The path that we're on and the milestones still to come are thrilling. We'd love for you to walk with us and are grateful for those that are already. Please contact us at or through messaging us on Facebook.

In Christ,
The Stivers in Tanzania

Friday, February 19, 2016

February 2016 Newsletter

The Stivers in Tanzania: February 2016

Happy New Year from Tanzania! We hope and pray that 2016 has gotten off to a great start for you and your family. It is shaping up to be an exciting year for us and our ministry. God is on the move and we're excited to share some updates with all of you.

Family Update

It's hard believe all that has happened over the last year in our family and we thank God for his grace during all the transitioning. Moses has now been home for nearly six months! We've seen great growth and maturation in him as he's transitioned out of an institution and into our family. Moses just finished a stint playing on the Hope International School soccer team which Brandon helped coach and had a blast with his friends. We're so blessed by who he is and the young man that he's becoming. Shepherd turned one in December and as of this week has begun walking, or rather he's skipped walking and gone straight to running! He is continually a source of joy in our family. Our sweet Promise is such a big girl now and is enjoying preschool very much. It's wonderful to see all that she's learning. She has battled different ailments over the last few months from a broken collarbone in November to a current bout with pneumonia. Please lift her health up as well as all of ours. One of the difficult things in being in Tanzania is not having the same medical services that we once enjoyed in California. Please call on God our Healer for Promise!

In the coming months, we plan on making a visit to the states. So get ready to see us soon! This year, especially with the adoption undertaking, has been our most stressful and draining season of ministry and life in Tanzania yet. We thank God for all he's done in our family and with Kingdom Families, but we are in need of a change for a few months to reconnect with friends, family and supporters. Our hope is to be there from April to some time in August and split time between friends and family in California as well spending time with Brandon's parents and sister in Wisconsin. 

As we look forward to furlough, we'd ask that you consider any ways that you might be able to assist us. As much as we love seeing everyone and cherish our time in our home country, it can also be tough at times being away from our own house, car and rhythm of life. If you're able to help or could at least keep an ear out for us, here are somethings that would help us.

  • A car that seats at least five people to use while in California 
  • A place to stay in California
  • Opportunities to preach, speak with small groups or anyway that we can connect with American communities to share the work God is doing here
  • Extra support for airfare as we are now five people strong (click here to give online)

Kingdom Families Update

We're so thankful for ways that God is moving Kingdom Families forward and all the ways that we're expanding. As we continue to establish family-based orphan care in northern Tanzania, we're focusing on our on-going relationship with social welfare in Kilimanjaro. One of the important steps in that was to hire a social worker for our program. Meet Jerioth Shao.

We're so grateful to have added Jerioth to our Kingdom Families team last month and she has been doing such an incredible job aiding our program as well as Kimbilio Girls Home (another Global-EFFECT project). Her insight and expertise have been second to none. She is a certified social worker in Tanzania and carries the message of Kingdom Families and why kids should be in families, not institutions. She's been busy at work writing our reports, speaking with social welfare officers and advising current situations with the families currently on board. This has been a HUGE step forward for Kingdom Families and we couldn't be happier.

On the Horizon

This Saturday (February 20th) we have a Kingdom Families Conference held at the church of our dear friend Pastor Evarist. He and his wife, Mama Winner, have been such a blessing to our family and we're excited to be serving in their church this weekend. Unlike the Kingdom Families Conference we had in July, this conference will focus not only on orphan care, but also on marriage and parenting. Orphan care is our DNA, but we want to take a step beyond that and also empower families to live according to God's word and God's Spirit. It's a time to strengthen the core of the local church. Our hope is to have a couple of these Kingdom Families conferences before leaving on furlough. 

Next month, we will be having consultants from Bethany Global coming out to advise our family based orphan care ministry that is central to Kingdom Families. We are so excited that they at last are coming out! We've been in touch with different Bethany representatives and have scheduled for the week of March 21st for their visit. One of those visiting will be Sebilu Bodja who pioneered their far-reaching family-based program in Ethiopia which is the flagship for their global ministry. We can't wait to learn from him and have their help in building Kingdom Families family based orphan care component.

Let's Be In Touch!

We couldn't say it enough, we appreciate you as a prayer and financial supporter! Our supporters are a constant reminder to us of God's faithfulness, provision and blessing. We returned to Tanzania a year ago this month. We had a newborn that is now walking and talking. There was a lonely child sitting in an orphanage that is now a full-fledged son in our family. We had a toddler that is now a beautiful and growing preschooler. We had a ministry that was focused on a few kids in Kilimanjaro that is now aiming to alter the culture of an entire nation. You have a part in this and we thank you!

We'd love to re-connect with you especially as we plan on being back for a visit in the coming months. Please email us at or message us on Facebook. Your encouragements and engagement are always a blessing to us. We'd love for you to check out our blogs to keep in step with us and the culture of Kingdom Families. Brandon has been blogging each week for the last month at Build This Kingdom and Melissa continues blogging at The Beauty of Becoming. In addition to Facebook, you can also find Melissa on Instagram and Brandon on Twitter.

Thank you again for all the support, love and prayers. We hope to see you soon!

Brandon, Melissa, Moses, Promise and Shepherd

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