Here is a new ministry in Africa that has just come to my attention. It’s called Naomi’s Village, a children’s home for orphans. Bob & Julie Mendonsa are normal people who gave up their full time jobs and answered a call to serve. They began this home from scratch and are now caring for over 40 children (some are newborns). Here’s a video from their website explaining their work. Wow!
It is my honor and privileged to introduce Kimberly Smith, Co-President and Co-Founder of Make Way Partners and author of Passport Through Darkness. “Fighting to end human trafficking in the darkest corners of our world, skeptics declared many of the tasks set before Make Way Partners as impossible. However, fueled by compassion and incensed by grotesque injustice, Kimberly led Make Way Partners to the successful completion of building the first orphanage on the border of Darfur, Sudan. Building supplies had to be transported nearly 2,000 miles over hostile terrain with no roads or bridges. She now leads the way to build a powerful, indigenously based anti-trafficking network spanning Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America. Kimberly is passionate about helping others to discover the unique dream God has for their lives. She divides her time between each ministry location, writing, and public speaking in the US. Kimberly lives in Sylacauga, AL with her husband Milton where they enjoy the out of doors with their ‘puppies’, adult children, and grandchildren.”
To celebrate Make Way Partner’s 10 year anniversary, I am giving away one copy of Passport Through Darkness. To enter, you must become a follower of Servant Living. (If you are already following this blog, you are automatically entered.) I will announce the winner Thursday, April 25th. *Update* Click here to see the winner.
Ten years ago, I bought a fourteen-dollar analog Timex. It has traveled back and forth with me between so many time zones that sometimes I’m not sure who “sets” whom. No matter where I am, I wear it 24/7, and even sleep in it.
I don’t use my watch to click off the moments of each day, as if time was limited or we could pin it down to best meet our purposes. Instead, I wear my watch as an anchor to the present moment. It reminds me that each and every tick of a tock is a breath of God keeping the heartbeat of mankind pumping the freedom of life across the mountains and plains of eternity.
Often, I awaken in a dark, foreign hotel room, tent, or airport, and for the first moment or two of stirring, I feel confused and disoriented. In that moment, I have no cognizance of where I am or what time it is. I push the tiny illumination button on the side of my faithful, weather-worn ticker, and it gives me the first bit of information I need to orient myself: what time it is, an anchor to the present. Then, as my lids sluggishly widen and my hands grope about the surface of what my body rests upon, I begin to get a sense of the where I am.
Often, the present is the scariest place to be. Our minds, hearts, and even bodies store up the past as voluminously as the congressional library. Even if our past was difficult, there’s a certain solidity to it because we know what happened, we survived, and it helped us to get where we are in the present. Thus, the past builds our faith.
When the present is confusing and we’re uncertain as to what to do, the faith—built upon knowing God made a way through our past—opens a window of hope for our future.
So while it’s true, we see in a mirror dimly, that’s okay because we only need enough vision to recall the past, and let it stir a warm breeze of hope within us for the future—to keep our finger on the tick-tock of God’s love in this present moment. One tick-tock at a time will give us all the vision we need.
Many times throughout these first ten years of Make Way Partners, the present has been so terrifying that I’ve wanted to get lost in the memory of past—“the good old days” when things seemed easier, simpler. Or, I’ve tried to rid myself of the present fears by throwing all of my energy into plans for the future. When I choose either of these escape hatches from my present reality, I lose my anchor—where I find myself in this precise moment of time and what God most deeply desires for me.
In this present moment, God has given us more than 1,000 unadoptable orphans to raise up in His glory. These precious children are spread between three strategic locations throughout North and South Sudan in our anti-trafficking orphan-care network: New Life Ministry (NLM) on the border of Darfur, Hope for Sudan (HFS) near the border of Uganda, and Our Father’s Cleft (OFC) in the Nuba Mountains.
The present glory of these children is astounding. So are their very present challenges. While the nearly 800 children at NLM and HFS have complete housing and education, the 400 children at Our Father’s Cleft stand afraid in the present with no shelter, and no faith to billow a sail of hope.
Since the children of Our Father’s Cleft live nearly 1,000 miles away from the children of HFS and NLM, they’ve never been able to see what God has already done in the past. They only have memories of dropping bombs, violent combat, and vicious slave raids. If we want to transform lives and change the future, we must foster hope through building these precious children’s faith by being God’s Hands of Goodness, and thereby building a past from which to draw.
It has been nearly two years since we first expanded to the Nuba Mountains. We literally gathered the orphans from caves, where they were literally starving to death while hiding from slave raiders and other atrocities. Our faith, built upon the past of knowing what God did for NLM and HFS, gave us the hope to branch out and begin a food program. God provided a pastor to care for their hearts, and lead them. Under his direction, we hired teachers, caregivers, and a nurse who provides medical care. Now, the children expectantly wait. Their bellies are satisfied, their minds are stimulated, their hearts are healing and opening toward God. Still, they need shelter, a home.
While I assess the tick-tock of this very present moment within the ten-year history of Make Way Partners, my hope is roused that we will soon be able to build a home for the 400 orphans at Our Father’s Cleft, even though I do not know who He will use to fund this hope, and make the orphans dream a present reality.
As you, who’ve journeyed so much of this road with us, join us in celebrating our tenth birthday, I invite you to remember the past (faith), let it stir your hope (future) to freely love with abandon today—especially the broken children stuffed in this particular pocket of time with us.
Love, your sister along the journey of faith, hope, and love,
Make Way Partners
Celebrating 10 years of God’s work in saving lives & transforming hearts – one child at a time
Click here to download MWP’s 10 year anniversary newsletter!
To invite Kimberly to speak, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently read Is Anybody Out There based on this review by Tim Challies.
I am so glad I did.
This quick-moving memoir tells of the saddest childhood experience and painstaking attempt to understand what life is for. Mez McConnell delivers his life story to the world with brutal honesty yet humble voice. With it, he illustrates quite well the messiness of the church. Every believer would be made wiser by reading this great book and remembering the responsibility we have as the people of God to the lost Mez’s wandering the streets today.
You can expect some tears, some pretty good humor and a splendid reminder of how amazing God’s grace is.
Buy on Amazon (Kindle version is available)
Here is a video testimony of McConnell’s story. It just scratches the surface of what the book covers.