I am gifted with the opportunity.
To look back.
Took very intentional steps.
To bring people into my life.
Not by chance.
But on purpose.
That happened with the Davis Family.
I was scheduled to fly to Kenya.
Just days before our trip.
A terrorist attack took place in Nairobi.
At least sixty-seven people were killed at a popular mall.
More than a hundred more were injured.
My heart sank.
And not surprisingly.
The trip was postponed.
A five month delay.
We learned we would join another team from our church.
One that was already scheduled to go in five months.
Call it redirection.
Call it a no.
It was an unmistakably - not now.
About the very same time my team was sidelined.
She was sitting in a church service on another campus.
Watching a video clip.
Aimed at recruiting for the February mission trip to Kenya.
She was immediately drawn to the idea.
And really.....really wanted to go.
I remember her telling me later.
"It might as well have cost a million dollars.
There's no way I could have come up with the money to go."
That may have been true.
God was up to something.
In a very unusual turn of events.
A virtual stranger on that February team.
Fully funded. Prepared to go.
Had second thoughts about the trip.
She heard of Danee's desire to go in the Care Room of our church.
Where they both happened to volunteer.
Long story short.
This stranger gifted the trip to my friend.
It was as if God was saying.
In no uncertain terms.
There's no way.....you're going to miss THIS trip!
And she didn't.
That's where we met.
Four years ago.
10,000 miles from South Carolina.
On the ground in Kenya.
I was there because a terrorist attack delayed my trip.
She was there.
Because a stranger.
Gave her spot on the team away.
God was at work.
In ways I'm only beginning to understand.
Danee and I didn't get particularly close on that trip in 2014.
But I did notice.
There's no way to miss it.
Her love is wide open.
Have you met people like that?
Genuine to the core.
And while she's known hardship in her life.
And knows what it's like to do without.
She's what I call.
The REAL deal.
I heard about her husband, L.J.
Long before I met him.
He didn't understand the change he saw in Danee.
When she came home from our trip.
And when she started planning.
To join a mission team to Uganda within just a few months.
He reacted with words many of us won't let him forget.
"I didn't marry no damn missionary."
Not the beginnings you might expect.
For the direction their life would take.
Danee went to Uganda without L.J's full support.
I have to admit.
I like that about her.
Danee became passionate about missions.
Even as it was putting a strain on her marriage.
He slowly started coming around.
He would eventually join a men's mission team to England.
He and Danee would both served on a team in Cambodia.
L.J.'s heart toward missions was softening.
Was always in Kenya.
Scott & I were leading our first 410 Bridge Team to Kenya.
Half of the Davis family came along too.
It was one of our first days on the ground.
Our bus pulled over.
To pick up supplies.
L.J stepped off the bus.
And walked straight into a divine appointment.
He had a chance encounter.
(If you believe in those.)
With a boy that lived on the streets.
The kid was dirty and neglected.
Maybe 11 or 12 years old.
The same age as L.J.'s sons.
He was a glue boy.
To sniffing glue.
They talked for just a few minutes.
And we were back on the bus again.
Became a defining moment for L.J.
He saw some of himself in that kid.
Drug addiction and homelessness were part of L.J.'s story too.
What we would soon understand.
Is that none of L.J.'s past.
Would be wasted.
None of it.
It became the very thing God would use.
To show the way.
I'm not sure if it was during or immediately after this trip.
That I first heard them share.
They didn't know how.
But they were certain of a call on their life.
To move and serve in Kenya.
They didn't share their decision just with close friends.
They didn't put out an unspoken prayer request!
They told everybody!
They were gutsy.
And I'm ashamed to confess.
But at first, I didn't know what to think.
I had serious doubts and concerns.
I only saw the obstacles.
No organization in Kenya to plug into.
No funding to provide the way.
No plan for how it would happen.
None of that seemed to matter.
To the Davis Family.
They just believed they would go.
And they took intentional steps to prepare.
Within a few months.
Someone literally walked up to their front door.
And made an offer to buy their home.
With no organization in Kenya to plug into.
They closed on the sale of their house and moved out.
They downsized and sold most of their possessions.
After the house sold.
They moved into a rented trailer provided by a friend.
They slept on air mattresses.
(Still are to this day.)
And ate off Styrofoam plates.
Getting rid of nearly everything they owned.
And still without knowing where the money would come from.
They secured passports for all their kids.
And with no clear plans for what would come next.
Danee started researching homeschooling materials.
So the kids wouldn't miss a year of school while they are away.
On the surface I encouraged them.
I was excited for them.
But in my heart, I was afraid.
Afraid they might be hurt if it didn't work out.
I was afraid God wouldn't come through.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
And I think it comes down to this.
I've never known.
What complete surrender to Jesus looks like.
Oh, a lot of people talk it.
Maybe I have too.
But I've never really seen it before.
God used them.
To shine a bright spotlight on it.
This is what it looks like.
And through our friendship.
I began to see.
That anything is possible with God.
After months of trusting and waiting.
The rain came.
Answered prayers literally started falling from heaven.
At least, that's what it looked like to me.
A connection with an orphanage in Nairobi developed.
Through an interesting turn of events.
That only God could orchestrate.
Meetings and conversations took place.
And a place to serve was finally revealed and confirmed.
The Davis Family would serve near the Kibera slums in Nairobi.
With an organization called Serving Orphans Worldwide.
They flew L.J. to Nairobi a few months ago.
So he could visit and see the location where his family would serve..
And the coolest part of the whole thing.
Was that God used.
Every hardship and experience in Danee & L.J.'s life.
For this assignment.
Everything they had ever lived through.
Provided the unique and perfect groundwork.
For where they were being called to serve.
Scott & I sat across the table from them.
When the call came a few weeks ago.
NewSpring believed in Danee & L.J.
They saw their history of serving in the church.
Support was provided.
To help them travel and serve there for the next year.
And that was just the beginning.
Individuals touched by their lives and their faith.
Provided homeschooling materials for their four children to use in Kenya.
Provided four laptop computers for their classroom work.
Provided missionary's health insurance premiums while they're away,
Provided suitcases for the trip.
Provided money to cover their immunization.
Was completed provided.
And those of us in their lives.
At what we witnessed.
I heard once.
As someone was describing the results of working out.
That if you commit to just 30 minutes of exercise.
You'll get one result.
And if you commit to 60 minutes.
You'll get a different result.
It occurs to me that is also true with faith.
When you surrender a small part of your life to Jesus.
You get one result.
When you give Him a little more.
You get another result.
But when you surrender it all.
There's no limit to what is possible.
You get what I saw in the Davis Family.
The Davis family will relocate to Kenya in June 2018.
You can follow their journey to Kenya on Facebook
by following "Davis's Move To Kenya" for regular updates and posts.
Thank you for praying for them too.
L.J., Danee, Sonoma, Bob, Garrett & Alizah