Often times life can just get in the way of the things we really want to accomplish. Job, house, bills, family….. with each of these comes struggles. Are they struggles? Or are they trials? What are these trials meant to teach us? Why are we given these trials? I can only guess that some of my trials are to teach me patience, grace, and forgiveness. It seems like I will never ever learn, and when I am frustrated and crying out to the Lord during these times I wonder why nothing is changing for me. During a special devotional time last night I was reminded of the part of the movie War Room, when we were asked to remember that the teacher is always quiet during a test.
One of these tests, or trials, on the elevation of my patience level has been ongoing in 7:10 Foundation. My heart aches for all of the things that I want to see accomplished, and the lack of speed in which these things are being accomplished. I have the wisdom to know that things only happen in His time, and not in mine, but I sure do not have the ability to give these things over to Him and leave them with him.
I never knew how much dedication it takes to accomplish things that are done solely through the giving hearts of others. I have often felt overwhelmed, under appreciated, and ready to throw in the towel. My love for my family in Haiti will always eventually trump these feelings, and the prayers of all of the dedicated prayer warriors are a driving force in the next hour and day. I have been praying for quite some time for committed hearts to come along side us and help share the gospel, and our story. Hearts for ministry and the freedom to use these gifts. I prayed, and handed this need to the Lord. But guess what I did, I took it right back. I justified it by telling Him that “it is just for a second, while I give you some ideas on how to speed this up a little” When all I needed to do was “wait” and take “courage” that He will provide, in His time. When I needed Him the most, He provided. I am so happy and encouraged to announce the arrival of a very special family to our 7:10 family.
Meet the O’Keefes:
John and Lisa O’Keefe, with children Christy and John David
John has had many roles in his life, the most important of these is disciple. He is a husband and a father. He first came into our lives about 4 years ago when he was in the role of pastor at our small sending church Blowers Chapel. When the Lord spoke to John and Lisa just over a year ago and told them that they need to be in a different type of ministry they moved back to their home in Tennessee. The plan was to quickly sell this house and head back north to start a soup kitchen ministry in a neighboring city to us. God had different plans and when the house sold a year later that plan was for this family to join the forces of 7:10. He will work with Jeremiah in our tent making business GB Directional Services, always using his God given gift of ministry. Lisa is an amazing wife and mother of 4. She is filled with more grace than I can ever hope to have. She home schools her children teaching them so much more than math and english. together they have four children; Elisabeth, Michael, Christy, and John David. Elisabeth and Michael have both college students, and Christy and John David still home. What an amazing trust this family has in our Lord. They have put their faith in Him and sold everything. Bought a motor home and moved north to Minnesota from Tennessee. Just to serve Him. Below is a paper that Christy wrote for a school assignment recalling the adventure north:
Faith Enough To Move
I can honestly say that the move from Tennessee to Minnesota in May of 2016 has been the hardest and easiest move we have had yet.
It was difficult because of all the strange transitions and in-between phases. It was the easiest because the actual packing seemed more ordered than the other times. There were also less family members, meaning that there were less arguments and hurt feelings.
I learned a lot of things on this move: how to live out of a suitcase for weeks on end, how to keep entertained in a hotel room for hours, and how to sleep with the knowledge that I could be thrown across the room, out a window, and into heavy traffic at any given time.
I also learned some more important things: everyone has their breaking point, that time where they’ve just had enough. And it’s our job to not provoke that breaking point, and help each other through it when it does come. I learned that family is the most important thing in life (aside from God). I’ve also learned that if you have complete, without-a-doubt trust in the Savior, you will feel at perfect peace.
Sometimes when God does things, you don’t know why He did it until a long time later. Sometimes you never find out why He does some things!
Faith is a strange thing. Last year, I wanted absolutely nothing more than to be able to go to camp. I prayed, and prayed. I looked at all the possibilities and options. I expected God to do something crazy in order for me to be able to go. Maybe have two hundred dollars fall from the sky for plane fare, or have someone from camp “just happen” to be driving through Tennessee on their way to camp. I had so much faith that God could do something like that. That’s good…right? Well…
Faith is not when you say, “God, do this.” and then expect it to happen. Well, it is a form of faith, but not the kind we should have as Christians.
The kind of faith we ought to have is the kind where you take your life, your plans, and your dreams, and hold them out and say, “God, these do not even belong to me. This is what I want to happen, but regardless of my wishes, let Your will be done. Take them. I trust You fully.”
I always look at this and think ,”I could never have that much faith. I could never do that.” WRONG. Jesus said “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Repeat NOTHING.
At the beginning of this year, I looked at last year’s plans. To go back to Camp JIM was one of them. I didn’t get to go, and I still don’t know the exact reason why. But again, I put down in my resolutions that I might possibly be able to go back to camp. Only this year would be different. I wouldn’t say “God, I know you’re going to let me go to camp, so I trust you with how I’m going to get there.” No, this year, I said, “God, if it is in your plan to allow me to work at camp, then please let your will be done.”
And that’s when it happened. It wasn’t immediate. It was actually a very gradual process. But now that I look back on it, it feels sudden. We were going to move. We weren’t going to move just any place either. We were moving back to Minnesota. God had opened up a place for us to help the Dwires with the 710 Foundation. We had a purpose. He gave us one. And at the same time, my prayers were answered.
Now when I prayed for this opportunity, I was not expecting to move back here even a little bit. But we did, and that’s how it worked out. And turns out, I learned a lot of lessons on the way. I learned about faith, trust, long suffering, love, selflessness, and just plain endurance. I’m not saying those words just so that my word count can be bigger either. Each one means something different.
I was learning how to have faith before the move even took place.
I learned about trust when I needed a crazy amount, not only in God, but also in my family during the whole planning stage. When dad was buying the RV and trailer, I had no idea what was going on, what the plan was, how it was all going to work out, and so my trust was really stretched.
I learned about long suffering during all those nights in the hotel rooms where the lights had to be on when I wanted them off, when I had to run down to the car to get something when I didn’t want to, when I had to share a bed, and had to wait for the bathroom, or got only five minutes of hot water in the shower. The mundane things really taught me long suffering, because those were (and still are) the things that seem so significant to you at the time, but when you look back at them, you see that they really didn’t matter except for how you learned from them.
I learned about how to love when I had to be in a small space with six people for a week. I learned about love when I found out that you shouldn’t try to hide your weaknesses from the people who love you, because they don’t think you’re perfect anyway. I learned about love when I saw mom and dad driving for hours on end even when they were dead tired so that we could make it to Minnesota.
I learned about selflessness when I had to keep asking if there was any way I could help with packing, or when the job seemed endless, or when I saw how different members of the family gave a part of themselves to be of help when the days got long and hard. I learned about selflessness when I woke up feeling tired but content from working so hard late into the night. I learned about selflessness when I watched mom and John stand for ten minutes emptying fifty pounds of sewer down a hole without a complaint about the smell.
I learned about endurance when I got sick and it felt like the aches and pains would never end. And when I had to keep reminding myself to stay cheerful even when I felt like lying down in the middle of the road. (“Woah, that was a HUGE pothole!”). I learned about endurance when I look at my family and look at our past and see how many times we’ve moved, and how we are still in love with each other after weeks of seeing nothing but each other’s faults and worst sides.
So basically, I am so thankful for this move. I’m thankful for my family who is teaching me things that they could never know they taught me.
Even though it was a very hard, very long, and very unusual trip that still hasn’t ended, I’m still very happy we had it.
(credit to Christy O’Keefe)
We are feeling so blessed and reinvigorated just by having the O’Keefes here. What is God going to do next? I don’t know, I am waiting on Him 🙂
A quick update on whats happening in Haiti…
We are working hard on getting the rental property ready for our very first team that will be visiting in January. A team of 16 from west central Minnesota will be visiting for a week.
We are about $2500.00 away from being able to build our first house for widow Elissianne and her grandson Chawensky. Our Raising Hope Building Homes Campaign is still active and I would like to ask you to think about what just 10$ a month could do. Do you know 10 people that could give just $10 a month? If we had just 50 people giving just $10 a month we could build one home a year. 100 people giving just $10 a month we could build 2. I challenge you to talk to 10 people today. Share what skipping 2 coffees at a specialty coffee shop a month could do for a widow or a single mother in Haiti.
Elissianne and Chawensky Grandmother and widow that the first home on the widowage is being built for.
We are praying for the funding to come in so that we can have Rodnald, Rithza, and Claudia visit our families in Minnesota and in Tennessee over the holidays.
If you are interested in giving to any of these needs please use the donate link and make sure you comment what your donation is for.
As always we appreciate your prayers. We are fully aware that we would be nothing without the Lord laying it on your hearts to pray for us. Thank you and blessings to you.