"Go!"

Sometimes, when God says "Go!", it's not so much about the destination. Sometimes, when God says "Go!", it's simply about whether or not you'll actually go. It's simply about obedience. When God told us to go to Ethiopia it was simply about obedience. While He has so much for Freedom Gate to do in Ethiopia, the time for doing is not now. This time was always and only about whether we would go. Whether we would actually pick up our cross to follow Him. And whether we would trust Him with everything. 

When the disciples were freaking out in their boat that was being slapped around on tempest-tossed waves, Jesus asked them to "Come!" He asked them to trust Him with everything and just step out of that boat. Only Peter was crazy enough to take Him at His word. And even though Peter never made it to his destination--Jesus--he went, he obeyed and he walked on water. Jesus rewards our obedience and sometimes obedience is just one step. (Matthew 14:22-31)

When God called us to go to Ethiopia, we took Him up on the challenge. We (thought we) knew that the longest we could go was for six months. And every time we prayed about how long to go, we got silence. So we decided to go for six months so that we wouldn't cut off anything He wanted to do through Freedom Gate. And we prayed that if six months wasn't His timing, then He would bring us home when the time was right. While we knew that six months was a long time, especially with the kids, we were committed to going for that time. We would miss celebrating Christmas with our families and celebrating Violet's 2nd birthday. We would miss our families and friends and the intimacy we shared. But we knew that no one would be blessed by our disobedience. And we couldn't wait to go. 

The first month of our trip to Ethiopia was one of the most difficult months of our lives. Satan's attacks were pretty predictable before we left but the game changed once we got on to the front lines. There were times of confusion, disappointment, waiting and frustration. There were times we wondered why in the world God asked us to go and times when we thought He'd forsaken us. But even during those times, we were marveling at the work of His hands and seeing His hand in our lives. The Ethiopian countryside is breathtaking, the people we met were so warm and inviting. And even while under attack, we knew God had a very big reason for sending us. And we kept going even until breaking. 

And then, in our weakness, God overwhelmed us with His presence and poured out on us fresh vision, hope and excitement for all that He has for us through Freedom Gate. When we looked into the faces of the beggars on the street, we saw familiar faces from home. When we saw the injustices, the poverty, the outcasts, we saw those same things in our own community, in our own country, in the faces that we knew. As our heart broke for the women forced into prostitution and for the beggars on the street, our heart broke also for the people in our own community whose hope has been lost and whose lives are in chaos. And as He sharpened our vision for our work in Ethiopia, He poured into us so much vision for our work in York County as well. 

And then, being a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His kids (Matthew 7:11), He gave back to us all that we gave up for Him. We found out that the embassy issued us the wrong visa, which meant that we had to leave the country after 3 months instead of 6. And when we called the airlines to change our return flight, we found out that we needed to leave in 3 days or pay thousands of dollars for new tickets. And so now we find ourselves safely home with our families in time to celebrate Violet's birthday, Christmas and even to comfort family in a time of loss. 

We will return to Ethiopia and the vision He gave us--to help bring freedom through sustainable farming and artisanal trades--will become a reality. But for now, until He calls us again, we will be pouring ourselves into the work He's called us to in York County. We have a lot of work to be done here and we are so excited to get busy. Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are so thankful for you! 

In Giving We Receive

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Over the past few years, the constant theme on our hearts has been giving--more of ourselves, our time and our money. Take, for instance, our home. We found ourselves often saying "when we have our farm..." or "when we have a bigger house..." But God challenged us on that and we were confronted with the fact that if we weren't stewarding well the small home He had given us, then it's likely we wouldn't steward a bigger home very well either. So, instead of seeing the limitations of our house, we began to seek the possibilities. And for the last 6 months to a year that we lived there we made it a point to welcome at least one person or family into our home for dinner each week. Sometimes our home was bursting at the seams as elbows were flying around the dinner table. But no matter how tight, the atmosphere was always filled with joy and laughter, and as we would wash up the dishes after our guests had left, we would always remark about how much we were blessed by each encounter. But that's how kingdom giving is. You get so much more than you ever give away. 

You see, for us, our journey brought us to a place where we were left with two options: either God was the God of the Bible and there was so much more in store or God really was dead and we might as well just walk away. We couldn't bring ourselves to admit the latter, so we began getting into the Bible and walking out the things we found there. Because if God was God then they had to be true. So that meant that we didn't have to worry about tomorrow or our finances or anything really. We simply had to be obedient and watch Him show up like He's always promised to do. So for us, it wasn't all that hard to cash in Ben's IRA to get out of our home even though it was the only cushion we had. And there was barely a moment's pause when God showed us the door to Ethiopia despite the fact that we had no idea what we were getting into or didn't have the money to get there. And we're not scared by the fact that in just a few weeks Ben will resign his job of the last 10 years, leaving us without a regular income and a nice health insurance package. Because all of this means that there are some pretty big miracles about to happen and we get to be on the front lines to see them!

We have seen the truth in St. Francis' prayer that in giving we receive. In giving up our life, we receive eternal life. In giving up control over our circumstances, we receive freedom. In giving financially, we receive a double portion. We cannot wait to give ourselves away even more as we travel to Ethiopia and to give away everything He's ever given us. We know that you may not be called overseas but we pray that you'll listen for where He may be calling you to give more--whether it's yourself, your time or your money. And we pray that in whatever you give you will receive a double portion and be blessed beyond measure as you are used to be a blessing. 

If you feel led to take part in the miracles that God is doing through Freedom Gate, you can donate online or send a check made payable to Freedom Gate to Freedom Gate, P.O. Box 7673, York, PA 17404. We thank all of you who have donated to our mission! And we thank all of you for your prayers and support! 

 

Free To Live Tees & Totes Fundraiser

Hello there! 

We have officially kicked off our Free to Live t-shirt and tote bag fundraiser! When I {Tabitha} was praying and thinking about a saying that would sum up our mission and also make for a fun t-shirt design, I knew it had to be something to do with freedom. One day while driving in the car, the Newsboys song I Am Free came on the radio and "free to live" resonated so loudly with my spirit. If I could sum up the past few years, and especially the past few months for us it would be with the word freedom. While living a nomadic life with two small children can be quite exhausting and filled with challenges, the freedom to be out from under a mortgage, bills, taxes and all of the "things" that go with it is exhilarating. The freedom to be in a place where we are able to be obedient to God's call is truly amazing. Like seriously, a dream come true. I mean, how many of us so often say that if we didn't have X, Y and Z, we would do the very thing that makes our hearts sing? And I can't think of anything that we want more than to share our freedom with others. Our desire is to set the captives free and give them the ability to truly be free to live the destiny for which they were created. 

We are super excited about the tees and totes and the process and people who helped us make them a reality. Our friend and photographer Ken Bruggeman did an amazing job with the design and we were super excited to use Artc Creative to print the tees right here in York, PA! The tees are also made in the USA by American Apparel and are the super soft tri-blend tees you'll want to wear everywhere. The totes are also made by American Apparel. 

You can pre-order the tees and totes on our website through midnight on September 21. Or, if you're local to York, PA, you can pre-order your tee or tote at Elizabeth & West Fashion House on Beaver Street near Central Market.

We want to thank you for supporting us in this way and for joining the movement to end oppression around the world. Help us spread the word by sharing this with your friends and family and tagging your photos with #thefreedomgatemovement.