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


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