Friday, April 18, 2014

Brandon's Sermon on Missions and Reconciliation

During our last time in California, Brandon was blessed with the opportunity to preach at Cayucos Community Church in Cayucos, California on November 17th, 2013. The Lord has burdened our hearts for this word from Luke 4 and 2 Corinthians 5. We want to see people reconciled to God, reconciled to one another and see orphaned children reconciled to families. That's our heart. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Settling Back into Life and Ministry in Kilimanjaro

The Stivers in Tanzania // Life and Ministry Back in Kili
So much has been happening over the last month that it’s hard to know where to start. We thank all of you that have continued to pray and support us even as our contact has been limited. We wanted to send out a newsletter to let you know how we are doing and what we’ve been up to.

Settling Into Our Home

We are so happy to share with you that for the last week we have been able to stay and live in our own home. We love it here! God has blessed us with a great home that will serve not only as a refuge for our family, but a place where we can minister to others. Right now we are working towards furnishing our home. There were some pieces that we left here that are back in our home and that’s great. However our previous home was furnished and our new home is not, so we still have a lot to do. We have some purchases to make like a dining table, kitchen counters and living room furniture.
One of our favorite things about our home is the opportunity to minister to others. On our first night in our home we were able to host a new friend of ours that is serving under the Peace Corps in a nearby village. We had reached out to him as he travels into Moshi on the weekends and we loved having him. On the 16th, we’ll also be hosting our Global-Effect house church here at our home and are looking forward to that as well.
The view from our backyard - Mt. Kilimanjaro
Current Ministry Focuses

Hope International School Website
One of the larger projects that Global-Effect has undertaken is an international school in the Soweto district of Moshi. Hope International School (HIS) serves not only Tanzanian families but also families from North America, Europe and Asia. Now in their second year God has given the school favor in expanding the student populace at HIS. As the Helblings are currently on furlough in the states, they will be recruiting teachers and we’re helping them by giving the HIS website a series of much needed updates. It was our heart to use our media talents to bless ministries here and with Melissa’s photography and Brandon’s web design we’ll be able to do just that. If you are interested in coming to Moshi to teach, check out or email
Fountain of Grace Ministry to Pastors
One of the ministries that Global-Effect has partnered with other local organizations in has been putting on pastoral retreats under the heading Fountain of Grace (FOG). We were aware of these retreats when we were here previously working at the orphanage and now as we are working with G-E we are able to help minister. It’s our heart to refresh and empower these pastors and their wives as they pour themselves into their congregations. We’ll be involved ministering at the next FOG retreat in Moshi on March 21-23. We want to uphold, support and bless these Tanzanians that are on the front lines ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ll be involved throughout the weekend and Brandon will be leading a few times of worship.
Leading and Administrating for Summer Teams and Interns
Between the months of May and August, we have multiple teams and interns that come to serve under Global-Effect. Some will be here for two weeks, others for more than two months. Ryan has given us the task of being missionary leads for some of the team’s activities as well as maximizing the time that we have with the interns. We are looking forward to HIS Discovery Summer Camp, village outreaches, church services and other ministries. We are excited to make the most out of the time that we get with those that come to serve and enhance what G-E has already been doing over the last few summers. We are especially excited as both of us served as G-E interns before moving to Tanzania (Brandon in 2009 and Melissa in 2010). Over the next couple months we’ll be revising G-E Short Term missions curriculum and emailing with interns, teams and our directors to make sure the summer is a great blessing to those in Kilimanjaro.

Campus Ministry
As you know a huge part of our heart and upcoming ministry is to college students on the nearby campuses. We have been able to get a couple good leads on ways to get involved and people that we can talk to. Just a couple nights ago we were talking with a missionary from New Zealand that has also been getting plugged in to the campus movement. It’s our heart to come alongside what God is already doing and our intention is to start with the Christian clubs that are already present. We have a pastor friend who is connected with the man that is involved with the campus ministries throughout Moshi and we look forward to talking with him soon. As we will have our hands full with nesting, summer teams and other ministries over the next three or four months, we’ll be gradually easing into this important ministry.

Promise making friends at Hope International School

Need for Support

We left California over a month ago now and God has walked with us every step of the way. We are so grateful for his faithfulness to provide. We were given some wonderful one-time donations that got us to where we needed to be to launch off. That coupled with our tax return from working at the church last year has helped us through this transition time. We, however, did not have our monthly fundraising goal reached when we left in January. We have some wonderful individuals and churches that have partnered with us and we are still hoping for more, especially monthly supporters. If you would like to hear more about our ministry, please email us at If you are interested in partnering with us financially, you can find all the information on our website at

Praise Reports:

1. We were approved for our new residence permit! Such a huge relief to report that. This has been, without a doubt, the easiest time that we’ve ever had getting through the immigration process. While we had to hustle collecting papers at times, we personally never even had to enter the Immigration Office. Our papers are currently being processed in Dar-es-Salaam but they’ve already been approved and paid for.
2. We have been able to see and spend time with so many loved ones, especially Awadhi. We joined a group from Treasures of Africa Children’s Home (where we previously served at) and headed to his school for the deaf about a hour or so out of Moshi. He is doing well and we loved getting a chance to play, cuddle and laugh with him. He was excited to see us and we were excited to see him.
3. We have had good progress on our home. It’s been totally repainted by a local painter who did an excellent job. We’ve been able to buy a fridge and oven that we’re so excited for. Of course, we also have our beloved dog, Dodger, back with us now that we’ve moved in. The family’s all together now!

Melissa and Promise with Awadhi at Treasures of Africa Children's Home

Brandon and Promise with Awadhi and Jeremiah at Treasures of Africa Children's Home

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Brandon's Sermon on The Shepherds at Christmas

Here is a sermon that Brandon gave following Christmas in 2013. The sermon explores Luke 2 and the shepherds that were compelled by the gospel message and their visitation of Christ. In the sermon Brandon shares a bit of our heart in returning to Tanzania and how the gospel has compelled us. The sermon was given at First Baptist Church of Los Osos on December 29th, 2013.

Note: Sorry the video quality isn't better, it was uploaded from Africa!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Stivers are Back in Tanzania!

We are so blessed to share with you that “The Stivers in Tanzania” are indeed back in Tanzania. We thank God for bringing us back to Moshi safely with all of our luggage in tact. It has been so wonderful to reconnect with so many loved ones here in Kilimanjaro and we are starting to settle back in to East African life. There has been so much going on that we wanted to be sure to send out a newsletter and let you all know what we’ve been up to the last few days and how you can continue to partner with us in prayer. God is on the move here and we are blessed to partner with Him.

Traveling to Kilimanjaro
Perhaps the most stressful step in the moving process was packing up choice possessions of ours and praying that they and us make it to Kilimanjaro International. God has been gracious to us and we can now count that step behind us. We flew from LAX to Istanbul where we had a one hour layover to catch our plane to Kilimanjaro. Needless to say, we were the last ones to board our second flight but we boarded it all the same. Promise did so good flying. We had some trouble with getting her to sleep some on the first flight which we weren’t anticipating. Nonetheless she did rest some and slept again on the second flight as well. Not too much crying for our little one, but there were definitely some frustrating moments. International flying takes on a whole new feel when you are traveling with a toddler!

Entering the Country
Upon landing in Tanzania, we were scrambling to fill out our entry papers and keep all our luggage together. We were the last ones to get through visas and customs. I explained to the visa agent about our transition back to life here and that we weren’t necessarily tourists though that was what visa we were getting (our residence visa is still being processed). He allowed us in and we got through all the processing lines. As we were the last ones through, we were easily spotted as few people with a large amount of luggage. The customs agents pulled us aside and tried to hassle us, but God is gracious and helped us and our belongings all the way through. In the past we have gotten hassled and had a bribe attempted from these agents, so we are grateful to have it all behind us now. 

Re-Settling in Moshi
We are so thankful to have a landing spot in Moshi other than our own home. We are currently staying at the home of missionaries Peter and Rebekah Neuberger of Kashabba Ministries. They opened their home to us as they’re currently stateside and it’s given us time to update and furnish our home that is in the same neighborhood. We've hired a good local painter that was looking for work and was trained by another missionary friend of ours. It's a blessing to hire Tanzanians and give them good work in a place where many are unemployed. After Jackson finishes painting we'll begin setting up different rooms throughout the house. 

It’s been a little tough getting on East African time as we came into the crazy flight schedule already exhausted from packing and wrapping things up in California. We are trying to emphasize ensuring Promise’s comfort in her new home country and make sure that we all get the rest that we need. We praise God that Promise is truly flourishing here the last week. She hasn’t been fazed by the different populace or culture. In fact she is loving getting to know and play with Tanzanians and the missionary families. 

Treasures of Africa Children’s Home
One of our biggest joys since returning was getting to visit Treasures of Africa Children’s Home where we previously worked from 2010 to 2012. The kids were so happy to see us and meet Promise (see some of the photos below). Doreen, Sabetina and Maria took a special liking to Promise but they all enjoyed holding and playing with her. We were blessed to see how the kids are growing and how TOA is moving forward and prospering under the leadership of missionaries Warren and Christina Oberst. These kids will always hold a special place in our hearts and we are blessed to continue living life alongside these incredible children in Moshi. 

Prayer Requests
1. Residence Permit - We had hoped that we could have our residence permit finished before arriving in Tanzania. However, the immigration office is giving us a little trouble and asked for additional papers that are not typically a part of the application packet. We are believing that God will help us finish this process soon. We are currently on 3 month tourist visas but should get the residence visa finished before our director Ryan leaves at the start of March.  Pray for favor as working with government authorities is very tough. Our hope is a two year residence permit.

2. Setting Up Our Home - There are many updates that need to be done to our home in Shanty Town. Pray that we are able to get it done in good time and have the finances and resources to finish the projects within the next few weeks. With our car now working, we were able to get our painter, Jackson, started today. We are so excited to have our own home again for the first time since early September when we moved out of our home in San Luis Obispo, California. It’s really our hope and belief that our home would be a significant ministry tool as we host young people and minister to Tanzanians and westerners alike. Please pray that our 2013 tax return would be issued as that money will help us in setting up our home.

3. Car Troubles - We’ve had to spend a significant amount of money fixing our 4Runner which was delayed in being fixed. Without our car for the first week we were unable to get around Moshi and other places. Life and ministry here are severely hindered if we are without our car. Praise God that we got it back on Tuesday evening. Brandon will take it back to the mechanic tomorrow though for a checkup and also to share a few problems that we've noticed with it the last few days. Pray that our car (affectionately named Minton after those that donated the money for it) would give us no more troubles which can be quite costly in a country where everything is imported and finding a good mechanic is difficult. 

4. Divine Ministry Connections - Being back for a week now, we are once again reminded of the various needs of this beautiful country and people. Even as we're still re-settling, pray that God would direct our steps and lead us to the people that we can minister to and partner in ministry with. We are excited for the disciples that will be raised up from Tanzania and the role that Christ has called us to play. We are equally excited for the orphaned children that will find a loving Christian home because of the connection to Global-Effect. We are believing God for mighty things and your prayers put fuel in our tanks.
Promis with Diamond at Treasures of Africa Children's Home

Melissa and Promise with Witness and Moses at Treasures of Africa Children's Home

Doreen holding Promise with others at Treasures of Africa Children's Home

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Countdown is On - 3 Weeks to Departure

Is It January Already?
Happy New Year! We hope that our first 2014 newsletter finds you well and that your year is off to a great start. We have been blessed to spend the last couple weeks with family for the holidays and feel the Lord's favor on us as we start this new year.

One by one, we are knocking things off our list and our departure on January 28th is going to be here sooner than we probably realize. We really ask for your prayers during this time. There is so much to be done, we've been battling different colds, coughs and sicknesses and the pressure of moving our family of three back to Tanzania is palpable at times. We press on. Just as Christ resolutely set his face to Jerusalem, we have resolutely set our faces to Tanzania where the Lord has called us.

We are currently in Paso Robles for about a week and afterwards we'll be back in SoCal for one last stay in mid-January. We hope to see you as we travel!

As we are now in crunch-time and our date is set, we want to be transparent about our needs and what we are trusting God and the church around us for. We have not reached all of our financial goals for fundraising, neither for our month-to-month or the sum that we planned for our return. We are still in need of $5,000 in returning expenses and another $1,000 monthly. We are trusting in God to provide and it's our honor and joy to serve and love Him through this ministry and through our family. More than looking forward to January 28th, we are looking forward to the 29th when we arrive in Moshi!

We love to give specifics in what we're praising for, needing prayer for and needing financial provision for. So here you have it:

Praise Reports

  • We were able to get our health insurance squared away despite having a unique living situation that numerous people at Social Services said there was no category for Californians working for a non-profit overseas. Promise had an appointment with the pediatrician this week and has a clean bill of health.
  • We've been blessed to spend the holidays with family and received some wonderful useful gifts for Christmas. Including a Kindle Fire which is a lot easier to move than filling our carry-on's with books like we've done in the past!
  • We've had favor processing our driver's licenses both California and International
  • Living like the lilies and the birds over the last few months has shown God's gracious provision through some incredible partnerships. We have had our daily bread and have grown to trust and love God in ways that we've never experienced. All of life is to know and love the Lord and we're grateful to be learning that everyday.

Prayer Requests

  • Our director, Ryan, has taken in our immigration forms this week. Pray for favor with the immigration office in Moshi. Our hope is to have a two year residence permit ready for us when we touch down in Kilimanjaro and don't have to pay for the tourist visas at all. This can be a sticky matter, pray for divine favor!
  • Pray for packing and storing as we near that plane ride. We've already begun (check the photo below) and it is a hard process. We have six containers we will take with us to Tanzania. Packing can be stressful, pray for divine mercy!
  • We still have more funding that needs to come in as noted above, pray for divine provision!

Hard to work at packing. Lots of stuff to organize, pack, store and sell!
Remaining Needs
There are still several needs that we have in returning to Tanzania. If you would like to give towards any of these, it would help us out so much!! Here are some of the big needs followed by some smaller needs (but still important).

  • New Computer. The one computer that we are using is getting old and has begun to give us issues. As we wish to remain in continuous contact with family and supporters, a new computer is crucial. A new computer would also be very helpful in growing Melissa's design business which would bring in additional income as support for us on the missions field. A new laptop would serve so many uses!
  • Furniture. The home that we are moving into in Moshi is beautiful and will easily become a home that we will enjoy for years to come. However, unlike the home we were living in before, this home is not furnished. Just like anyone, we need beds, a dining room table, chairs, bedside tables, storage shelves, a couch, etc. This is a need that we have once we get to Tanzania. 
  • Appliances. Like I described above, along with having no furniture, our home has no appliances either. We need a quality fridge and stove, especially as we will be doing so much of our ministry out of our home; hosting dinners, worship nights, and Bible studies. 
  • Cooking and Baking Supplies. These are items that we hope to purchase once we are back in Tanzania.
  • First Aid Kit. We'd want it well stocked, especially with medicines for Promise. A year and a half's worth of first aid products would sustain us till our next furlough.
  • Flea Medicine for our dog, Dodger (the fleas and mites in TZ are quite bad)
  • Personal Hygiene Products (a year to year-and-a-half's worth of feminine products, beauty products, razors, hair products, etc.)
  • Electric Candles and Lanterns. With a very active little one, having lit candles around when the electricity goes out is no longer a very wise option. Not to mention the amount of bad fumes and smoke that we would inhale are especially unhealthy considering the frequency of their use. Since the electricity goes out often, we hope to be able to purchase electric candles, lanterns, and head lamps, that way we all remain safe and healthy.
  • Large Plastic Kitchen Storage Containers (to be used for holding flour, sugar, rice, oats, etc.) Because we have to make almost all our meals from scratch, having good kitchen storage would make life so much better. This would be a huge blessing!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Northern Road Trip: Sonora, Redding, Portland

Greetings from Redding, CA!

For the last week we have been so blessed to once again hit the road and spend time with some truly wonderful people. With our bags packed once again, we left the central coast last Friday and headed north.

Our first stop brought us to Sonora, California where we were able to connect with important Global-Effect leaders for prayer and deliberation. Our director Ryan Helbling was stateside and we wanted to take the opportunity to meet up with him before he returned to Tanzania. Friday night, we were at the house of Global-Effect board members Dale and Marcella Cannon and had an intimate time being prayed over by these wonderful spiritual elders. When we woke up Saturday morning, God had given us a beautiful layer of snow and Promise got to experience snow for the first time.

The following day we headed further north to Redding, CA to connect with Steve and Ruth Hamill for a couple days. The Hamill family were in Tanzania last year and have a burden for the orphan crisis in the country. We spent time getting to know them and also talking about possible solutions for having kids in family units, aside from the typical orphanage model. It was a blessing to hear their heart for starting a Families Village in the area of Mtakuja, Tanzania and we are excited for all that God has in store as we pursue orphan care with Global-Effect.

On Monday, we traversed icy parts of Interstate 5 and made it up to Portland, Oregon to connect with Nexus Portland, a church plant in Northeast Portland. We had such an incredibly blessed time with Pastor Trevor Gavin, his wife Julianne and our dear friend Nicole McDaniel who are the founding members of this church plant. It was awesome to see the ways God is using this church to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and He is adding to their number. They are passionate about God and passionate about seeing Him touch their city. We truly felt inspired and empowered being among the church there and exploring that great city. While we were in Portland we were also able to connect with other friends, including have a sit-down with a couple that opened an orphanage only a hour from Moshi. It's been great to see all that God is up to in other places of the country and world.

We are now back in Redding (see beautiful Mt. Shasta in the header photo) spending time with our friend Lauren who was a missionary in Tanzania the same time as we were there previously. On Monday, we'll return to the central coast. We love exploring and seeing what the Lord is up to in other areas. This trip has been exactly that! So blessed by those that we've been able to connect with on this trip and excited for our ministry partners throughout the states.
A Beautiful Winter Wonderland in Sonora, CA

Our Return Date is Set - January 28th, 2014
One of the things that we were able to discuss with our director, Ryan, was plane tickets. The travel agent has given us a few options and we came across some tickets that were just too good to pass up. On January 28th we will fly out of Los Angeles to Istanbul, Turkey, spend the night in Istanbul and fly to Kilimanjaro the following day. This puts as back in Moshi on the 30th of January, hence making our target time of January a reality by two days. As we started fundraising a few months ago, getting the return date we hoped for seemed so improbable, but our God is able! We have been so encouraged by those that have come alongside us and we thank you!

We're not there yet though! We have had enough funding come in that we were able to step out in faith to purchase the tickets through Turkey. We haven't yet met all of our financial goals. We are still in need of more monthly supporters and one time gifts that help sustain our ministry in Tanzania. We are at about 70% of our monthly need commitments and still need at least $5,000 to cover other returning costs like first six monthes rent, fixing our car and settling into our new home and ministry. Please consider supporting our ministry advancing the Kingdom of God and preaching the gospel in Tanzania. We are excited for what God is doing in northern Tanzania and hope that you'll join alongside.

How To Give To "The Stivers in Tanzania"
1. 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

2. Donate Online
Often, giving online is easier and certainly quicker and our supporters are able to do that as well. Just follow the link below, or if you are on the Global-EFFECT website follow the instructions from their tab "Donate." An easy thing with the online giving is you can easily set up a monthly recurring donation by simply checking that box. Fill in the amount that you'll be giving, your contact information so we know who is giving and under "Program' write in 'BMS' so that it is credited to our ministry account. Click "Add to Basket." The online company JustGive takes a 4.5% processing fee. 

Be sure to subscribe to Melissa's Instagram (that's where we got all the photos for this newsletter) and stay up to date with all our travels in Tanzania and the states. Becoming // M on Instagram

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Stivers' Thanksgiving Newsletter

Vigilant in Prayer with Thanksgiving
We have so very much to be thankful for this season. Out of devotional times in Paul’s letters lately, we came upon a verse in Colossians where Paul encourages the church to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (4:2). This scripture speaks so clearly to where we are right now.

A couple months ago, we had so much ground to make up in our fundraising efforts with our plan to return to Tanzania in January. Early on it was really discouraging. We got to our friend’s house in Huntington late on October 1st and parked in front of her house. With money from my final paycheck at the church, we went to get groceries the next morning. Placed on our windshield the first day of our full-time fundraising, was a parking ticket. We were starting our fundraising $44 in the hole. That afternoon and several others like it were very difficult, but God was at work where we couldn’t see.

As our pastor in Long Beach spoke that next Sunday, we realized that sin and our fallen tendencies begin with ingratitude. Just as Adam and Eve weren’t grateful for all that God had done for them and given them, they set their eyes on that one fruit that He had forbidden. They crossed into the territory of sin and disobedience and it all started with ingratitude. Not unlike our most ancient of forefathers, we had come to realize how ungrateful and pessimistic we had become. Before God could get us back to Tanzania, He had to deal with our sin of ingratitude. Confession and repentance are a profoundly necessary part of the Christian experience. Thank the Lord for His forgiveness.

Over the last couple months, we’ve had moments where we just stop whatever we’re doing or talking about and decide to just pray; to continue earnestly in prayer as the scripture says. No matter what we’re going through, whether it’s a hard day or an easier day, we give thanks to God during our prayers. Sometimes it wars against our human desire to complain and be ungrateful, but that is where the vigilance comes in. And God is answering those prayers.

We continue to plan for our January return. We have seen and benefitted from the sacrificial and generous gifts of others. Some of whom we recognized in a previous post. Know that we are so very grateful for you. You are our blessing and a reason for our thanksgiving. We can’t pursue our calling and God’s desire for the nation of Tanzania without you. Thank you for being a part of our team. We have our eyes on some particular tickets for late January and as we pray, we realize that we likely will be out of California in under two months and it’s all because of God’s grace and the partners that have joined us.

We’ve had hiccups along the way (like Brandon realizing he put the wrong zip code on all of our support letters and the website for a time) and we haven’t reached all our goals yet but we’re on our way. We’d love for you to join our team. Both one-time gifts and monthly supporters are helpful. Please pray about joining our team and use the information below for any financial support.

God is gracious and we give Him thanks. We are grateful for opportunities to serve him here in California. We’ve been partnering and sharing with different groups at First Baptist Church of Paso Robles which is a supporting church of ours. We also spent two Sundays at Cayucos Community Church where we led worship and Brandon preached. We’ve gotten to connect with our supporting church First Baptist Church of Los Osos as well and are looking forward to a time this Sunday at Paso Robles Community Church.

In December, we are planning a road trip north to see ministry partners in Sonora and Redding, then, Lord-willing, will visit a supporting church of ours in Oregon, a Calvary Chapel plant called Nexus Portland. We then will spend Christmas and New Year’s with Melissa’s family in Los Osos. Keep us in your prayers as we’re here and as we return to Tanzania shortly.

Recognizing Our New Ministry Partners
As we’ve done in a past newsletter, we want to recognize new supporters that have given to our ministry in Tanzania. As we said previously, our ministry doesn’t work without you behind us. God is gracious and shows His hand through your giving. Thank you for partnering with us. Some of these have given one-time gifts, some have become monthly supporters, some have done both, whatever it’s been we thank you!

Bob Hager
First Baptist Church of Los Osos
John and Shelbi Rucker
Mike and Ashley Williams
Newport-Mesa Church
Nexus Portland

If you want to join our team, we’d love to have you. We are making progress, but are still needing more supporters. Our initial goal to return is $12,000 which would cover airfare, fixing our 4Runner which remained in Tanzania, paying our rent for several months in advance and setting up our new home and ministry in Moshi. For our monthly supporters, we are around 70% of our monthly need. If you’ve taken down our giving info before (or if you received the support letter with the typo) check it again by comparing it to the address below. Thanks for your support!

Make checks payable to ‘Global-Effect’ and write ‘BMS’ on the memo line. Send to...

PO Box 992856
Redding, CA 96099

Or you can give online through this website. Under program click “BMS (Stiver).” You can also set up a recurring gift there.

For any and all questions regarding giving, please contact us through email, Facebook or phone. Thanks for everything, you are a blessing to us.