Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,
We couldn’t begin to describe the gratitude that we feel for each of you as you’ve faithfully supported our family and the work of Kingdom Families over the last several years. Our hope and prayer for you is that you would experience the fullness of God’s favor and purpose in your life as you have empowered us to pursue His purpose for our family and the families that we’re privileged to serve in Kilimanjaro. We’re so grateful to have seen hearts and lives change as people embrace the gospel of adoption and bring kids into their families or strengthen vulnerable families in their own communities.
This year we’ve seen growth in both our advocacy and social service components of Kingdom Families. We have been so blessed to receive a new missionary to serve with our ministry and oversee social services. Grenisha has become a key person in helping us plan and care for families that we’re serving through Kingdom Families. At the same time, we’ve been able to take the message further and deeper through the release of Teteeni Shauri La Yatima (Take Up the Cause of the Fatherless in English), an eight chapter scripture commentary discussing the biblical principle and practice of adoption and orphan care. The book is released exclusively in Swahili and written for an East African context. Copies have made it to multiple regions of Tanzania as well as Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
While we are celebrating these new ventures we are also preparing for the biggest change of all. After our last furlough over the holidays of 2017 we returned to Tanzania planning to start new initiatives within Kingdom Families and expand our current operations in 2018. Shortly after returning though, we were informed by our leadership at Global-Effect that they would be downsizing operations within Global-Effect and can no longer offer support or covering to missionaries of the organization. From the moment that our directors shared this news with us we were at peace with the decision and see ways that God was preparing us for this time. As a result, after months of deliberation, seeking counsel from our sending church The Garden in Long Beach, and thoughtfully praying and seeking God’s Will for our family, we have decided that we will be returning to the states in November. Kingdom Families (as a program under Global-Effect) will be closing down operations by the end of the year. Kingdom Families is not the only program closing and we are not the only missionaries returning home. In fact, a handful of other missionaries that were serving under Global-Effect have already returned to the states.
We believe it is important to start by saying that we love and honor our directors, Ryan and Stacy Helbling. We understand and have peace with the reasons for this change. We have positive relationships with all those that we’ve worked with over the years and are leaving on good terms and with the Helblings’ blessing. We also believe that this is God’s timing and are excited for the next chapter to come. As of right now, our plan is to return to California and head to San Luis Obispo county where we are both from. We are open to wherever God might want us, but until that plan is made known to us we feel like heading home is most natural.
We do not feel as though we are done with East Africa. We love this region and specifically Tanzania as much as ever. Tanzania is woven into the fabric of our family. While we don’t know what’s next, the door to East Africa is not closed. We’ve considered incorporating Kingdom Families as it’s own entity, we’ve looked into working for larger non-profits and churches or joining a different organization as missionaries after a furlough in the states. We really don’t know right now. We ask that you would join in praying with us for God’s plan. At this time, we are looking and applying for jobs in the states. Our hope is for Brandon to get a job within the non-profit or church sector as that has been our passion and vocation all along. Melissa has begun homeschooling our children and that regimen will continue as we move in November. We could very well move abroad again in the future and have had a few spiritual advisors tell us that they don’t believe we are done here yet, but we are waiting on God’s timing and direction. We expect to be living back in America for at least the next year to year and a half. Brandon will finish his graduate studies in Global Development and Justice at the end of 2019 and we’re hoping that the move to the states better enables him for the rigorous course load.
Our kids have handled the news with great strength. Tears were certainly shed as Moshi is the only home that any of them have really known and it has been a great place to raise our family. It is stretching our faith to trust God with their hearts and lives in this time as living in the states is foreign to them. We are asking for God’s grace to be shown to them in a special way. Please pray for them specifically as they make this big transition and leave the home and country they love with all their hearts.
As we are preparing for this transition, Global-Effect has extended to us the opportunity to maintain our fundraising through their organization into June 2019. The financial support of friends in this time is critical to empowering our transition. We ask that you would maintain support through Global-Effect if you are currently doing so. Or you can give through personal donations, Venmo, PayPal and the like. If you are reading this and are not yet financial supporters, would you consider supporting us for this designated time through the month of June? There are many needs that we have as we transition back to America, and it can be scary walking into the unknown of 2019, but we’ve seen God move mountains before and we believe we’ll see Him do it again. We want to share some of the mountains that are before us and ask for your prayer and support.
(1) Plane tickets and Dodger: As obvious as it is, in order for us to get back to America, we need to purchase plane tickets for our entire family. November was not originally our plan for returning to the states, but because of the news of the downsizing, we will return to the states in November when our residence permit expires. Since now that our time back in America will not just be a visit, but instead a move, it is even more crucial that we have this tangible need met. We are also hoping/planning to bring our dog Dodger to America with us as well. We have had Dodger since he was 4 weeks old and he is now 7. We could not imagine leaving Dodger here and know that having him come with us would help our kids in the transition. If any of you fellow pet lovers would like to help us in the expense of having him immigrate to America, we would be so, so grateful!
(2) Moses’ immigration process: Three years ago we finalized our domestic adoption of Moses and it has radically blessed and grown our family. We adopted Moses as legal residents of Tanzania. It was not an international adoption as international adoption is not sanctioned in Tanzania. When he’s visited the states in the past, it has been on short-term tourist visas. There is a path for Moses to have residency and/or citizenship in the states, but the path lies in front of us and immigration law is very complex. We are seeking legal counsel at this time to help us with the best way forward. We ask for your prayer with this very crucial matter.
(3) Housing and vehicles: As we’ve spent the majority of our adult life and marriage in Tanzania, we haven’t ever been in position to accrue any assets in the states. We have been blessed to rent a wonderful home at an affordable rate in Moshi and buy two used vehicles in Tanzania that serve our family well. But in the states we have neither a house nor a vehicle. If you know of anything or are in a position to help with these items it would be most appreciated. We are hoping to move into a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home in a friendly neighborhood with a nice sized backyard that allows for a dog. We also need at least one car large enough to haul our family of 5 comfortably and would love an additional good quality car for Brandon to take to work.
(4) Work: As we mentioned above, Brandon is looking for work. We are open to living wherever God wants us to be and work whatever job He wants Brandon to work. As we’ve spent our time at Kingdom Families promoting family strengthening, we know all too well how important a viable income is for parents—we’re now in need of that ourselves! If you have any leads about work, Brandon can send you his resume.
(5) Church: One of the most difficult things that we’ve experienced in our time in Tanzania is a lack of real community. Our hope in the states is to have a church to call home and community to be a part of that is life giving. Living in Moshi has given us opportunity to make friends from all around the world, but Moshi is a bit of a revolving door and we have had many dear friends of ours leave after just a few years. We are looking forward to life giving friendships and are praying to be mentored/discipled by an strong, older couple. Please pray for us in this!
if you wish to help with any of these needs, you can donate by clicking here.
Words could not express our gratitude for you and your support. We look forward to catching up with many of you after returning to the states and we hope to be able to share more news then of what God is doing in our lives. We’re excited for who He is and what’s on His heart for our family. We love you and send our blessings from Tanzania.
To God’s Glory,
Brandon, Melissa, Moses, Promise and Shepherd
“The Stivers in Tanzania”