God is calling our family to “GO” to the Philippines to “Help”!
Our journey started about 2 1/2 years ago when I went to Manila for the first time to attend a prayer conference. During my time there, I spoke at a church plant called Cells Alive. During lunch with the leadership of Cells Alive Christian Fellowship, I learned of a new church that Cells Alive had just started in a local settlement of displaced families. The new church was called Cells Alive San Buena. Although my brain was still a little woozy from having just landed in Manila from the U.S. about 12 hours earlier, I knew in my spirit that I had to see what God was up to! I went to the 3pm worship service and was so blown away by how God was at work in the lives of the young people leading and serving the San Buena Cells Alive Church! I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” The response I got from Jesus was clear: “I want you to help these people”. Also while there, I learned that the church had also started a school called “Bright Lights” to help children from San Buena. I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of this work and ministry!
I was so excited to hear Him speak to me regarding His work in San Buena, that when I got home, I shared my experience with Melissa, our kids, and our church small group! We prayed together and decided that we would start a coffee ministry (www.kozcoffee.com) to raise financial support and awareness for the urban poor in Manila, particularly the Bright Lights school.
After we started KoZ Coffee, our church decided to send a team to Manila to serve Cells Alive and Bright Lights. About a year ago, we took a team of 15 people to Manila and were blessed deeply by our time. While there I heard God speak to me again saying, “I want you to help these people”. I talked to Melissa and some friends. We prayed about it for the next few months. In response to God’s call to help, we decided to start a new ministry called KoZ International to help sponsor children who are living without hope of ever coming out of extreme poverty. Our aim was to help the local church provide an education as a potential path out of the cycle of poverty. We hope to launch KoZ International (koz.im) in the first part of 2016.
This past January, while praying for the people of San Buena and for other families living in extreme poverty in Manila, God spoke to my heart. Again He said, “I want you to help these people”! I asked him what he wanted me to do! For the first time I heard Him say, “I want you to “GO”! My heart stopped as I considered what I thought Jesus was saying! I talked to Melissa shortly after, and she, too, had been sensing God calling us to do more in the Philippines. I shared what I believed I heard with my kids, and they were open to the possibility of our family going to serve the poor in Manila. Over the next four months we prayed and prayed and prayed. During our prayer one morning God put it on our hearts to go to Manila and share with the team working in Manila that we had heard him calling us to come and help. The Lord then spoke to us that we were to go and to ask them if that was an answer to prayer. In response to the Lord’s leading, Melissa and I bought tickets and headed to Manila within three weeks.
We spent a week in Manila, then, meeting with the team from Cells Alive and Bright Lights Learning. The first thing we asked was if they wanted to work with us regarding KoZ International. They affirmed what God put on our hearts regarding KoZ. Secondly, we told them that we thought God might be calling us to come to the Philippines and if this was an answer to prayer. I asked them to be very honest, because I wasn’t looking for whether this was a good idea or strategically beneficial, but specifically if this was an answer to prayer. When I asked this question, the response I got blew me away! They shared that in response to a prayer of desperation that they recently brought before the Lord, He revealed that He was going to send them “help”. God had brought us 7,340 miles across the world to ask the question whether our ‘coming to help’ was an answer to prayer. God had told our friends that he was ‘sending help’! In that moment we all sensed that God was up to something much bigger then any of us could imagine. We came home to Nebraska and spent the next five weeks in prayer. After this time of seeking Jesus about His call, he made it clear to each one of us, including our children, that He was calling us to “GO” to the Philippines to “Help”.