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From “I am no missionary” to “All In!”


From “I am no missionary” to “All In!”


all-in-post When I was young, growing up in the church, missionaries living in South America, Africa, and parts of Asia would often come to my church, telling us amazing stories about remote villages they were living in and about people being introduced to the Gospel. For years, I saw this as what a missionary was, and for that reason I determined that “I am no missionary!” With that as my definition, it never even dawned on me that I could be a part of Global Missions. In fact, for most of my twenties I was the guy happy to write the check that enabled others to go, but was never really open to going myself. Then, in late 2009 a colleague and friend approached my wife and I about going to Kenya and Tanzania in the summer of 2010 with New Hope Initiative. She had been to multiple developing countries on similar trips and was very enthusiastic about missions. I took the information in and tried to get past the idea of giving up my vacation time and the thought of getting sick in country. I considered going, just this once, so that I could check the box and move on. That was my intention, even as I stepped on that plane for that first trip.

In retrospect, the process leading up to the trip, the trip itself, and surprisingly, the time of reflection after the trip, all worked together to change my marriage and my life. Since that first trip three years ago, we’ve been in a process of getting more and more involved with the works there, from leading a trip the next year, to sending trips, to raising money, to working with NHI’s leadership to set the direction for the organization. As cliché as it sounds, it all started with one step. Going on that first trip was my first step to “All In”.

This October I completed my third trip to New Hope Center in Nairobi, Kenya. The purpose of the trip was to take my leadership experiences in Corporate America, University, and my local church to train and equip New Hope Leaders to have the right strategies and tactics to take on their current leadership challenges. The trip was an amazing experience, where I took the things I have learned over the years, built interactive training modules and delivered them just as if I were in the States. And from that experience, I already have several ideas of other things my wife and I can do to strengthen and support our partners in Africa.

Maybe you’re reading this having never gone on a trip, but always had interest in doing so. Or maybe you sponsor a Penda student and sometimes think you’d like to visit them. Or maybe you joined us on a trip and can’t help but occasionally think that maybe you should get more involved. There is so much good work going on through New Hope Initiative, but there’s always so much more that could be done. After all, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Usually the first step to getting involved is to go and see the works. I needed to do that in order to see how I could fit in. So I’d like to encourage you by saying that God has a plan and you can be part of it. He’s looking for people who are available and open. I’d encourage you today to take your next step toward “All In”.




How Did He Inspire You?

For my wife and I the adventure began nearly 18 months ago. Leading a missions trip was something we prayed about and was high on our list of dream to-do’s but like many people, jobs & scheduling remained a constant hurdle. It wasn’t until a radical shift in my career and the encouragement from close friends that we applied and were offered the opportunity to lead a team from McLean Bible Church with New Hope Initiative to Tanzania & Kenya.

As both of us have been part of short term mission teams in the past we spent much of our preparation time with the team focusing on how this two-week experience could usher in lasting change within their lives instead of just a flash-in-the-pan spiritual moment. This was reinforced once we arrived in country and Sandy Baird, the director of New Hope Initiative, spoke to the same ideal and challenged each team member to dig deep and see where God was inspiring them through this trip. Little did we know that the preparations and those conversations with Sandy would end up challenging us in ways that we are still unraveling and seeing where God is leading us.

For many of you reading this you have been on a trip with NHI or you know someone that has. So I have a challenge for you - when you come back or when you have the opportunity to sit down with someone that went take the time to dig a little deeper – beyond the safari tour, the souvenirs, the foods consumed and the always prerequisite bathroom question – ask them How did He inspire you? There is a chance that you or the friend you are asking may not know at that exact moment but maybe there is a glimpse of an idea or their heart has clearly been burdened to make a change. In any of these cases, accountability is a strong tool and I encourage you to take the time to follow up and pray with them or find someone that can become a partner in prayer and a sounding board for ideas.

While some ideas may involve NHI - and we truly hope that many of you will sponsor a student through Penda, share the mission of Project Biashara, or help serve in some capacity within an active project - but in addition, hopefully the inspiration will also hit close to home as you are likely going to spend 50 weeks over the next year there as opposed to Arusha or Kibera. For some it may become evident that the mission field God has placed in your path at this moment may not be as far as Africa, India or South America but maybe the next cubicle, the next door neighbor or the orphan in the city that needs a shoulder to lean on.

So how did He inspire us? We feel blessed and incredibly challenged to say that God inspired a lot in us through our time in East Africa – many ideas we are still processing through and others that we are currently in the midst of. For starters, it wasn’t less than a week after we returned from our first trip that we knew we wanted to go back. It was clear to us that God was not finished working on our hearts to serve the ‘least of these’ and as of this writing we have just wrapped up leading our second trip back to Kenya & Tanzania within a year.  As anyone that has lead a mission’s team knows, sometimes the greatest moments can come when seeing a change in others and we have had the amazing opportunity to watch six young adults from our first team embrace the ideas that God inspired in them - some within NHI and in other local ministries. But we are also filled with even more excitement as we have the chance to ask five other young adults that we just returned with the same thing we want you to ask yourselves and those returning from trips this summer – How did He inspire you?

By TJ Walter - New Hope Initiative Board Member