After over a year of saving, considering and planning, the Archer family is on its way to Africa for four weeks. We leave June 19 and arrive home July 16. Many people have asked us the purpose of the trip, what precipitated it, and what we’re hoping for. I’ll do my best to break things down:
A little over two years ago, I took over as the Executive Director for Communication for Free Methodist Church, USA. I basically oversee communication strategy and IT for the denomination. I work with other teams in the denomination to accomplish this. In order to serve the church well Globally, I need to be able to understand the landscapes as much as I can. Thus, I’ll be working while on the trip to connect with missionaries, NGOs, and FM work to gather stories to tell, work on special projects the Global staff has for me, and soak in the culture. It will be all over the map and leak into the entire itinerary. The heart is to understand and serve.
Joel and Janette Miller moved in next door to us and we hit it off pretty well with them. The season we shared with them in Spring Arbor was one where a group of us deepened significantly in our journey with Jesus. We became close like family. Some of the fruit from that was Joel and I teaching a class at Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church. Here’s the link to the class: http://crazyloveclass.wordpress.com/ In addition to simply supporting them financially, we committed to regular communication and to trying to see them in Africa. We miss not only Joel and Janette, but Hannah, Leah, Samuel, and Josiah.
Living in Spring Arbor Michigan is great and not-so-great. There are pros and cons to living everywhere. One con we have working for us is our affluence which leads to arrogance and a sense of entitlement. I fall asleep on this quite a bit and need to battle. It’s hard to see how much we have compared to the rest of the world. It’s even harder to model for an amazing 14-year old daughter that there’s something more out there beyond her community. Beyond sports.Â Beyond brand names.Â Beyond status.Â I think we need Africa more than it needs us. Getting away to a place that’s so different always changes you. Our prayer is that the Father’s heart deepens in us as He uses this time. The Archer family is battling to live differently – purposefully – Biblically. We sense this is one way we can continue to be obedient and take next steps to do this.
Ever since she was born, we knew there was something special about our Grace Elizabeth Archer. Other people see it too. She’s got something deep to offer the world. Since 2007, she’s been sensing a call into ministry (which we’ve jokingly tried to discourage her from). As she’s opened her heart more to the Father’s heart, she’s sensed a call potentially to mission work and even specifically to Africa. These aren’t her parent’s dreams we’ve thrust upon her. These are hers. Part of the reason for this trip is to get away from our noisy, distracted, and uneven lives to physically go to a place to listen. If God is calling Gracie to serve in Africa, this will be a great place for her to get quiet enough to hear what the Father has to say.
In light of these priorities, we’re going to fly into Bujumbura, Burundi for about ten days to share time with the Millers. I’ll do some work there for them, Free Methodist World Missions, and connect with Hope Africa University. We’ll play, laugh, rest, and learn a new culture with our friends. We’ll then travel to El Doret, Kenya to partner with Empowering Lives International. Here we will stay in a hut and serve orphans as well as work at a school for orphans. This will be our time to get off the grid and allow the Father to speak into our hearts – specifically Grace. We’ll finish off the trip with the third leg in Nairobi, Kenya, with Mike and Vickie Reynen, Area Directors for Africa. I’ll do some work with them and for them for the denomination. Before we head home, we will be stopping at Masai Mara for a two-day African safari. Did I mention Grace’s favorite animal is a giraffe?
We’ve never attempted anything like this before and would covet your prayers. We haven’t had much reason to use this blog for awhile. I think we do now. We’ll be posting updates from time to time to prepare for the trip and then posting as we have availability in Africa. We’re definitely taking a step of faith and hoping you’ll take one with us. Get your passport! Let’s go!