Monday, February 18, 2013

Yesu Wakanaka (Jesus is very Good)

Dear Family & Friends,

This coming July, we are amazingly blessed to return to Mozambique. We have the opportunity to lead a team of Vanguard University students to serve on a three-week mission trip. As you probably know, God has placed Mozambique on our hearts for the past seven years. Through our trips there, God has revealed so much of His presence to and love for us in ways that still resonate today. We have been praying for the past two years for God to provide an opportunity to return to this beautiful place we’ve called our second home. We are so excited to obey God’s call to mission in a place that has already been such a blessing to us.

Throughout Scripture, we see that God’s heart is broken for those who need Him the most — the poor and the forgotten. He has called His followers to be His hands and feet to reach the orphans and widows of our world. This trip to Mozambique provides us the opportunity to play a part in God’s story by partnering with a ministry that is dedicated to caring for and nurturing orphans.

We will be working with Iris Ministries at the Centro Arco-Iris Machava located outside of the capitol city, Maputo. They are steadfastly committed to living our greatest commandment: love God with everything by loving all people. They have over 10 centers across Mozambique that provide homes for orphans, healthcare for the sick, and food for the hungry, all while spreading the Good News (They are affiliated with over 10,000 churches!). For more information about Iris, click here. The center in Machava is first and foremost an orphanage. They currently house and support over 80 children from the ages 4 to 18. Secondly, the center is the church for the surrounding community and has lived out the Gospel there in life-changing ways for the last 15 years. Lastly, the center is a community school that is currently educating over 400 students. The heart of the center is to be a blessing to a poverty-stricken community. God truly has His hand on this place.

As a team, we will be involved in the following aspects:

  • Church. There will be opportunities to share testimonies, take part in leading worship, share the Word, and perform skits.
  • Outreach. Several times during the week, we will be visiting the community through prayer walks and local church outreaches. We will be participating in the monthly service called Som do Céu (Sound of Heaven) in Maputo. We will visit the site of a future center located in Catembe, an area where they are laying the ground work for a church/orphanage plant.
  • Education. We will be a resource to the school on a daily basis ranging from teaching Bible lessons to assisting the teachers in any way.  
  • Children. Our most common action will be spending time with the kids. Our goal is to build relationships and to love them unconditionally as Christ would have us do. 

In order to go, we each need to raise approximately $3,800. This amount will cover ground transportation, food, supply costs, and ministry expenses. We will need both prayerful and financial support throughout this process, and we are writing to ask you to prayerfully consider whether or not God would have you be one such supporter. We would greatly appreciate your financial assistance, and hope you would consider contributing towards the necessary funds. However, we covet your prayers even more so. We truly believe in the power of prayer, and would ask that you would partner with us in that aspect of the trip.

We look forward to what God is going to do in and through us on this journey. We trust that He’s going to use us for His ends, and we are excited that you get to be a part of it. God has called all of us to play a part in His Story, and we look forward to sharing what He is doing in Machava, Mozambique.

For His Glory,

Brian & Christine Stephens

If you do choose to financially support us, you may do so in one of the following ways: 

***Write a check, payable to Vanguard University, add a note with our names in it, and mail it to the following address:
Vanguard University
Attn: Outreach Ministries
55 Fair Dr.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

***Contribute to our team online by filling out our 3-step online secure form on Vanguard University's website.

All donations to our team are tax-deductible as allowed by law, and to aide in the issuance of receipts, please do not write our names anywhere on the check, if you choose this payment method. If you choose to pay online, please type our names in the box labeled “Team Member Name.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

fishers of men

As I mentioned before on my post here, Brian & I will be returning to Mozambique in the summer leading a team of amazing Vanguard college students and alumni. Last weekend we camped out in the beautiful area of Lake Cachuma located in Santa Barbara. Despite the oh-so-cold/freezing weather, it was a weekend filled with team bonding, ministry, and observing God's creation.

There were times during the weekend that I stood back and watched our team. My heart filled with joy as I tried to hold back tears. I feel blessed to be a part of this team that God put together. I now see why He made us wait...

It was to take these amazing people on this journey, to walk with them through trials and joys, and to celebrate what God is doing in our lives.
From Left to Right
Alex & Camille McClure, Maggie Carranza, Korynn Whitaker, Naomi Rivas, Liz Guevara,  me & the hubs

Saturday, February 2, 2013

thoughts on a quarter of a century.

A few weeks ago, I turned 25.

For once I almost forgot it was my birthday. The week prior to turning a quarter of a century, I was balancing two jobs, preparing for our Mozambique team meeting, involved with church, etc. I knew the day was coming; I just didn't have time to "enjoy" my final days as 24.

I've also come to a realization that I'm not a fan of my birthday. Maybe it's because of age. Or maybe I'm just realizing how silly of an idea that is. We invite people to spend the day with us, to spend money going out with us, to buy presents for us ... to celebrate the day of our birth. Pretty selfish right? I was almost tempted to not have a birthday dinner; a part of me just wanted to rest and do nothing.

But as many people reminded me, 25 is big deal. It is one of those monumental markers. So, despite my original plans, I had a dinner; I kept it simple, had some of my favorite people with me, and, of course, had some grub.

Despite how January started off crazy, I have a good feeling about this year. 25, get ready for this one!

(And yes, after two years of begging my hubs finally bought me a banjo.)