Our family will follow God wherever He leads; loving and helping others in order to bless their lives so we can be more like Jesus. Our family wrote this to be our family mission statement several years ago. It was important to us to be clear what the Bys family was going to stand for. We wanted to remember during the times when things get hectic and we feel like we are being pulled in a hundred directions, just what is really important. We have had our mission statement posted over our dining table all this time. Every family meal we see it. We have prayed through this statement many times. We have persistently prayed to God that wherever He lead, we will follow. Our Family song, I Will Follow, by Chris Tomlin speaks to the same theme. For years, as a family, we have sought to follow God wherever He led as best we could, leaving the results up to God. And now, God is leading us to Africa. So once again, we will follow.
I have not given much thought to having a "life verse". I love scripture. I love all scripture. I love to read and study the Bible. All of it. I have many favorite verses. I have many favorite books of the Bible. I believe God has not wasted one single word in His Word. It is all important. But if I were pressed, if I had to choose a "life verse", it would be James 1:27. Through James, God tells us what pure religion is. He says "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world." This verse has had such a profound impact on Steph and I. Jeremiah 15:16 says "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty." When I read James 1:27, it feeds me. It feeds my soul. These words give me sustenance. To live out James 1:27 is my joy and my heart's delight.
Therefore, it really comes as no surprise to me that 3+ years ago, God burdened Steph and I with a passion for Africa. Since that time, I have been earnestly seeking God’s guidance, wisdom, and will on what He would have us do for His Kingdom. During these past years, not only has the passion in my heart for Africa not waned, it has actually continued to grow stronger. But there was no way I was going to lead our family in something like this without Steph being “on board”. You see, in our relationship, I am the adventurous one and when I get a sense of God’s leading I am very quick to say “Let’s do it!” Thankfully, God has blessed me with Steph. She is the discerning and rational one that God uses to balance me out. I knew that if God was going to have us move our family to another country, He was going to have to make that clear to my bride. More on her perspective will be below, but I will say God has heard our prayers and has, we believe, been putting piece after piece together to pave the way for us to move to Kenya! So many pieces that I will not attempt to list them all here; but the biggest one being that He has shown Steph that this is of Him.
We consider this a privilege and are excited to get to be part of what God is doing through AFM and our ministry partners in Africa. The timeframe we are currently looking at for the move will be somewhere around February 2017. Until then, we will be seeking to raise support, purchase land next to Mercy School in Kaya, and have our home and orphanage built there. Once we move, I will be overseeing AFM ministry objectives in Africa such as; the growth of Mercy School; helping to find more support for the school at Sangalo with another 200+ students; the expansion of Sharon Bible School to communities in Kenya, Uganda, and beyond; setting up micro businesses such as boda boda services and farming; helping raise more awareness and support for Samson’s orphanage in Moi’s Bridge; as well as starting an orphanage next to our home. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this announcement! We ask that you will consider partnering with us in 1 or more of 3 ways:
1) Pray for us. Spurgeon said “No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” There is much power in prayer and we ask that you will regularly pray for our family and the community in which we will be living.
2) Support us. An endeavor like this requires some folks to support us financially and we trust God to let those who should, know. Please prayerfully consider whether God would have you to regularly support us. No matter the amount, big or small, we will greatly appreciate it and will put it to good use for the cause of Christ. Tax exempt donations can be made at aboutfacemissions.com. Another great way to support us will be to help us with various fundraisers we will be having between now and the time we move.
3) Visit us. We would love to have mission teams of any size come and see what Jesus is doing in Kenya!
I asked Steph to also share this from her perspective. She always does a great job filling in all the gaps I leave. Here she is:
Over 3 years ago Jeff and I felt a call to Africa. At that time we discussed a 5 year plan for getting us there, but never really acted on it. Since then for one reason or another we have sort of ditched that plan. Jeff tried to go on a mission trip to Africa in 2014, but I just could not shake the feeling that it wasn't the right time. Due to that he decided not to go. Turns out I gave birth to our youngest two months early so he would have had to cancel last minute anyways . As many of you know he was finally able to go this year. His trip was wonderful and he was able to see first hand the needs there. While he was gone one night I could not sleep, restless would be an understatement. While I was laying in bed awake I could feel God telling me that when Jeff came back he would be ready to move. Thank God that He knows all things and was able to prepare me for that, because honestly, for me, our move to Africa had become a "one day when all the kids are grown" kind of thing. Moving in the next 5 years wasn't even on my radar at all, much less in 1 year. So the day after he returned home from his trip we were discussing how things went. Jeff "jokingly" said “well, if I could, I would pack us up now and move next month.” Caitie (our 16 year-old) quickly jumped on board, followed by Karson (our 12 year-old). All of the sudden we found ourselves discussing a move to Africa and what that would look like for us. We have talked thru this on different levels and can't really find a reason to tell God "no". There is such an enormous need for orphan care in Africa and so much red tape here in the USA, we can do more there. We can share Jesus' love with more children there. Now we find ourselves with a much shorter plan than one day; right now our plan is to move in February 2017 to Kaya, Kenya.
Sadly we will leave behind our 3 oldest; Cory is finishing his MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary, Quinn is working and living in Oklahoma, and Kyle plans to study welding after graduating High School next year. Our kiddos going with us will be Caitie (16), Karson (12), Brendan (11), Ava-Joy (10), Violet (6), Aspen (3), and Reed (2).
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this! The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Jeff, Steph, and family