After being by my wife’s side through the pregnancy, labor, and delivery of four babies, I am smart enough to know that not all pain is bad. None of it is fun but sometimes, as in childbirth, it’s how you get something beautiful. 2016 was a year of both birth pangs and beauty. It was a challenging year of honest organizational introspection that prompted some change, rebuilding, and the sharpening of our focus. It was a beautiful year that deeply affirmed the work that WEGO has been doing everyday for over two decades. Most importantly, it was a year of God’s movement, in and through WEGO. He is alive among us and we rejoice in that! We got to stand back and watch Jesus meet real needs in the most incredible of ways.
We will never have enough words to fully offer up the love and gratitude that we have for each of you. Every prayer, cent, and minute you’ve given has been multiplied in the Hands of the God who made this whole thing possible. As He has been doing since the conception of WEGO, God is up to something beautiful around here. We are walking step by step towards a vision of becoming a global community of local churches and local believers on mission together. But I’ll save those details for another post!
I could spend a month on this 2016 overview of WEGO and still utterly fail to communicate what last year held for us as a ministry. I wish you could know the stories of each child, adult, family, employee, and community that WEGO served in 2016 but we’ll need to save that for eternity. So until then, here’s a fairly quick snapshot of the year (from my first-year-as-director perspective):
2016 marked a very important year for our ministry in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. I got to spend a lot of time, individually and collectively, with our incredible staff of 19 Nicaraguans. They are truly the hands and feet of WEGO in Nicaragua and I couldn’t be more proud to know them and be co-laborers with each of them in Christ.
Through our partnership with ORPHANetwork, our feeding program was able to give 250 kids the daily vitamins and nourishment they greatly need. I got to visit and serve our three feeding centers on several occasions and was truly blown away by the bountifulness of these lunches. No skimping involved. It’s actually making me hungry right now just thinking about the food we serve. I even got to watch our head cook, Marlene, minister to the moms of our program participants as they prepared and cooked the meals for their children in our kitchen. It was a beautiful thing. This ministry offers so much more than food.
New Hope School:
I heard it over and over in our community: “I love living here but there just aren’t enough jobs.” In an area and country with very little employment options, education is the key that unlocks the door of opportunity. Our school year ended in December and we graduated seven students! These incredible kids not only have been given every shot at success but, even more, were given a chance to seek and find Jesus every day through bible class, chapel, and their relationship with their teachers. It was such an incredible thing to hear the personal testimonies of Jesus’ work in our graduate’s lives through their time at New Hope School. We are also excited that 2016 brought us a new principal to our secondary school.
How To Pray
Please pray for our staff and leadership as we had a couple of big transitions within the ministry. Pray for stability and strong local leadership.
According to the Joshua Project, 97.7% of Mongolians are unreached with the gospel of Jesus. So don’t be confused, New Hope Children’s Home is caring for some of the most beautiful kids in the world but it exists to proclaim Christ in a barren land. That’s exactly what’s happening. I praise God for the work that He is doing among our staff and children in Mongolia. The kids that we serve come to us via horrendous circumstances yet they are extremely kind and I see a passion for Jesus alive in them. We are forbidden from taking the children in our home to a Christian church so our staff leads a service for them every Sunday in our living room. This year we saw many of our kids graduate our home and head to college. We also just welcomed a new two-year-old girl and four-year-old boy (who I just missed by a week when I visited in October!) I am beyond grateful for the spirit and health of this incredible ministry in the land of the blue sky.
How To Pray
Our ministry in Mongolia is in great shape. Our facilities are not. Please be praying for us as we quickly look for ways to repair or rebuild our physical property. Floors are caving in and bathrooms are falling off. We can do better than this for the children we’ve been entrusted with. Pray for wisdom and finances for these projects.
We recently received this in an email from Sergei, our local missionary in Ukraine:
“I thank all of you who help and support us in this hard time not only to live, but also to be in ministry for church, for people, for families who have moved, for soldiers who risk their lives. This is a great opportunity to share the good news of God’s Love.”
Ministry is tough. Ministry in the middle of wartime is unimaginable. Sergei and his country are undergoing tremendous difficulties in this season of political conflict and turmoil. Yet he is still out there looking for opportunities to be Christ and share His love with those around him. Last year he drove hundreds and hundreds of miles to serve his countrymen and minister to soldiers. He is a light in a dark time.
How To Pray
Please pray for physical and spiritual strength for our brother, Sergei. He has had many health issues with his back, specifically. Pray for the peace and encouragement of Jesus to dwell deep in his heart at all times.
After two decades of leading women out of addiction and towards Christ, the doors of Glory Mansions were closed in 2016. This extremely difficult decision was made after many months (if not years) of prayer and honest conversations. In the end, two things were concluded. First, a healthy and fully functioning addiction recovery program requires a significant amount of infrastructure, staffing, attention, and resources that we did not have. Secondly, a more narrowed and sharpened focus for WEGO would enable us to be better stewards of the other ministries entrusted to us. We will be continuing our legacy of walking with people in addiction through the Glory Mansions Mission Trip Scholarship Fund. This fund is aimed at mobilizing men and women in addiction recovery programs to find healing in Christ through serving others around the world.
This redirection obviously changes the work of WEGO moving forward but it, in no way, subtracts from the two-decades of life-changing ministry behind us. Glory Mansions’ staff, volunteers, donors, and participants have truly been a part of something special, something worth celebrating, and something worth praising God for. We thank each of you for your prayers and involvement in Glory Mansions. The doors are now closed but I’ve heard enough stories and I’ve talked to enough participants to deeply believe that the impact of Glory Mansions will last long into eternity. Please contact us with any questions about this change.
How To Pray
Please pray for Robin Wagner, Glory Mansions’ faithful director and the Mother Theresa of addiction recovery programs, during this season of transition. She would love for you to specifically pray for her extended family walking through a difficult time and for God’s perfect provision in the days ahead. Also, please begin praying for the future men and women that we will be able to serve through the Glory Mansions Mission Trip Scholarship Fund.
NEW OFFICE AND STAFF
If a new website, Statement of Faith, director, and many new infrastructure/processes (among other things) weren’t enough, 2016 also marked the ending of the twenty-year land lease on our Cocoa Beach building. We chose to relocate over staying put and watching our rent seriously increase by 450%! Our new office is located at 315 Brevard Ave Ste. 1 in Historic Cocoa Village and gives us great access to the Space Coast community. We are also beyond excited that we have a few new additions to our WEGO team. Stan and Tamera Johnson have joined us as missionaries to Nicaragua and Lisa Montgomery recently became our new Office Administrator. Please come on by and visit our new home! You can meet Lisa and get a very short tour of all 600 sq. feet of our new office!