Closed Door

hebrews1023

Dearest Friends,

This has been a tough week for our family and we know that it is important for us to update you.  Many of you have been traveling with us on our missionary journey for the past two years and have shared our highs and our lows with prayer and encouragement.  We received word this week that there is no longer a spot for us at RVA for the 2015-2016 school year.  We heard from AIM on Wednesday and were able to speak with the RVA administration yesterday confirming their decision.  Given housing constraints at Rift Valley Academy and the status of our financial support for full term status, the school felt it best to make the decision to allow other full term families with full support fill the school’s needs.

To say that this news is shocking and devastating to us is an understatement.  We have been on this journey to return for the past 2+ years with many of you right beside us.  In our first blog post as we described our intentions to return.  We referenced Romans 12:1-2:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

That has been our prayer and posture during this process: to be living sacrifices to the Lord and that our lives be Holy and pleasing to Him.  At this point, this is a difficult and painful posture for us to take.  We are pressing on and holding onto His word to Jeremiah that the Lord has a plan for us; one that will make us prosper.  We do not know what that plan is, but we know that we trust a big God and that this was not a surprise to Him.

So what does this all mean?  It means that we are stopping all support raising activity and we are asking all of our supporters to not send support to AIM on our behalf.  Please continue to use your funds for the Lord by redirecting them to other ministries and missionaries.  You all have been so generous to us and we want that generosity to bless someone else.  We will be praying about and working on what is next for us in the coming weeks but we wanted to get this news to you all who have been our faithful supporters and partners.

We ask that you continue to lift our family up in prayer as we all process through this closed door.  We shared with the kids this morning and they are struggling with their new reality too.  Although there is a small sense of relief knowing that a concrete decision has been made, it’s tough that the decision turned out to be different than what we had hoped for.  We appreciate you and are thankful for your constant encouragement to us.

God is good

God is in control

God loves us

In Christ,

Brian, Erin, Jakin, Keilah, Silas and Eli

Earthquakes and Re-starts

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Last Sunday at 3:20am there was a 6.0 earthquake in the Napa Valley about 30 miles from where we live. The quake woke us up out of a sound sleep and the house rolled up and down for 15-20 seconds. The quake did a lot of damage in and around Napa but thankfully we only lost some sleep in it. Later that morning in church we were talking with a friend who studies earthquakes and he was telling us a bit about what happens geologically.

Chris explained to us that in this type of earthquake the two plates of the earth’s crust had been moving past each other at a rate of a couple of centimeters per year. Where the two plates move past each other is called a fault and sometimes the plates snag each other and can’t move. When a plate hits one of these snags, a lot of energy is built up until the snag releases and the plates can move again. That sudden jolt of movement off of the snag and the resulting release of energy is what we feel as an earthquake. Now, Chris was much more eloquent and scientific, (and I am sure that I got several things wrong) but I think that my simple explanation got the gist of what he was saying.

His explanation also got me thinking about our process in returning to Kenya and ministry at RVA. We had been moving along since early 2013 and even gaining momentum in support raising and preparing to leave, but eventually we hit a snag. That snag for us was not another tectonic plate but rather financial support. By the time we had to make a go/no go decision for this August we were only at 32% of our monthly support. This made the decision painfully easy. We could not go and had to re-assess what God was doing. We held a night of prayer, praise and thankfulness with many of you at the end of May and committed to slowing down over the summer to continue praying and seeking the Lord in this process, then re-starting our efforts in the fall.

We did just that.  We spent time as a family praying and talking through our next steps. We enjoyed a much needed retreat at Mount Hermon and have been refreshed by our most recent series on Grace at our church. Now that Fall is upon us and the kids are back in school, we are ramping up our efforts at support raising. We are even more convinced that the Lord wants us to return to RVA, but are a bit unsure of the duration that He wants us there for. We continue to pray about that. We are committed to returning to RVA in August 2015 and will go for as long as we have funds to support us and there is a need for us at the school. If that ends up being a short term of months or long term of years; we are relying on God to tell us.

We are hoping and praying that the Lord unleashes the pent up energy that has been building by our support snag. We are currently looking for opportunities to speak and share about what God is doing in our lives and in the ministry at RVA. If you would like to have us share with your small group, bible study, bridge club, class, church or any other venue, please contact us and we would love to come and meet with you.

God has continued to work with His people and our support has continued to climb. We are currently at 41% of our monthly target and are 41 pledges of $100/ month short. If we can get 5 pledges of $100 a month over the next 8 months we will hit our goal. We ask that you please continue to pray with and for us.

Thank you,

Brian, Erin, Jakin, Keilah, Silas and Eli Richerson

Joy Now

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God is good
God is in control
God loves us

What a month for us! We got our passports, spoke at Woodland Christian School’s elementary chapel, connected with “old” friends and adopted a puppy.

What???

Yep. We adopted a puppy. It became very clear to us at the beginning of this month that we were not going to make our financial target to return to Kenya in August. Our emotions have been all over the place. Yes, it DOES take a lot of financial support to send a family our size overseas. Just the airfare alone is incredibly expensive! So, we have had to re-evaluate what God has for us this next year. We do not feel released from Kenya. We feel like God is still holding that door wide open. But our timing may not be His timing. Throughout the whole year and a half of support raising, I’ve heard myself saying no to different things that we can be involved in because “we will be moving overseas soon.” One of those requests has come from my third born who has always begged for a puppy and my response has always been, “we can’t get a puppy. We are moving to Kenya.” I began hearing my own words echoed by my children. “I can’t sign up for that sport. We will be moving to Kenya”, “I don’t want to get involved with worship band because we will be moving to Kenya”, “I should probably not think about middle school in America, because I’m moving to Kenya.” Ah! We were teaching our kids to not enjoy life now. That if we *wait* for next year or we *wait* to move overseas, then we can do the things we really want; really love to do.

That isn’t what we want to teach our kids.

So, we are committing to continue to raise support and spreading our heart’s desire to go to Kenya in 2015. And we commit to JOY NOW. We commit to teaching our children that following God exists in every situation. The reasons why we are not going to Kenya now is not because we got it wrong, or we missed something or someone else messed up. The reasons why we are not going to Kenya now is because:
God is good
God is in control
God loves us

Amen?

For those of you who are currently financially supporting us, we would love for you to continue. Your support will build on itself and translate to the remaining monthly support that we need (we are currently at 32% monthly support and 52% of our outgoing support: plane fare, shots, passports, visa costs). We recognize that any financial support is extremely sacrificial. Therefore, if you had committed to monthly support and would like to delay that support until we actually depart next summer (2015), we completely understand. Please let us know. If we do not hear from you, we will assume that you would like to continue your monthly support throughout the next year.

We appreciate you so much. We can hardly even express it!! We are hosting a Night of Thankfulness to express our gratitude for the many people who have prayerfully and financially supported us over many years. If you would like to receive an invitation for this event, please let us know. It is scheduled for Saturday, May 31.

We love you guys. We could not be on this journey without you. Thank you for praying and investing in our entire family.

Love,
Brian, Erin, Jakin, Keilah, Silas and Eli

Busy!

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We are busy with passport photos, doctors clearances, RVA school applications and speaking engagements. We definitely feel compelled to sit back and let God work His timing over ours. Our May 31 deadline is rapidly approaching and, although our financial support has been increasing slowly, we are only at 29% of our monthly support and are facing the reality that Kenya may not be a reality for us this August. We are prepared to extend our rental agreement and partnership with churches/individuals through the next school year if God does not provide our full support within the next 2 months. We are not alone in this step of faith! Thank you for encouraging us and supporting us. This is a team effort that exists apart from our own 6 person family. We appreciate you!

 

Team Richerson

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Hey! Hey! We hit just over 18% of our financial support this week. We are encouraged!

Yes, the support is coming in slowly but we are thankful to not be stuck.

Brian and I are committed to working our very hardest these next 2 months to really get information out about our ministry and our plans. We feel like God is asking us to be very diligent until the last deciding moment (last day of May).

Would you prayerfully consider supporting us through financial giving?

We ask this not to put a guilt trip or beg for money. Please understand our heart on this. Many people do not even realize that we are only able to go out as missionaries because of a large group of people who believe in the ministry, believe that God wants them to answer their own call to foreign missions and give personal finances towards that goal. We get to be the hands and feet for a much larger group of people who are “called” to missions too! Some missionaries get to go and others stay behind to support.

We are asking for 56 families or groups to support us for $100 per month beginning in August.

Why do we need to know about support before it comes in? Because our mission will not release us to even buy plane tickets until we have 100% pledged support.

We are thankful for you.

Whether you are a current prayer/financial supporter, past supporter or future supporter we would like to personally thank you. Look for information coming soon about an event we are planning just for you to express our gratitude. I know we have not expressed it enough, but whatever happens with us and our return to Kenya, we have never been so encouraged by others as we have during this entire process.

Much love to you!

Prayer need

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Dear friends,
We are coming up on our end of May deadline for full support and it definitely feels near impossible! We believe that God can definitely do this but we are fighting against discouragement. After several months of support raising and with 2 months until our deadline, we are at 16% of our monthly support with 9 pledges of monthly financial support, including our home church. We have some tough decisions to make in the near future if our support does not come in. This is not to say that we are not overwhelmingly appreciative of the financial support that has already come in. We are so very thankful! The reality is that we need a lot of support! Sending a family of six overseas for 5 years is pretty crazy when we think about it. We covet your prayer.

What happens if we do not have 100% of our financial support?
Our mission will not release us to go on the mission field without being at full support. We are actually very grateful for this. In our experience, sometimes people who have the best intentions end up not being able to financially support us after they commit to. The mission takes this into account and does not want us to have to return immediately from the mission field because of the lack of funds right off the bat.

If we do not reach our support goals by August, what will we do?
At this point, we are reaching out to Rift Valley Academy, letting them know about our situation, and will be talking about options. If we miss our May deadline but are close, we will see if there is a need for us to go in December for the 2nd term of the school year.  There is a possibility that it will not be possible because the school may have filled our roles for the year. If there is still a need for us in December, we would possibly extend our support deadlines. All of this is dependent on discussions with the school and our support levels.  If our full support still does not come in by that time, we will acknowledge that this is not the time for our family to pursue the mission field. Because of our family’s needs, we will not continue to live in limbo after December and will commit to staying in the States long term. Obviously, this will be a very difficult (and sad) decision for us to make.

If we are unable to go on the mission field, what happens to money that has already been sent to Africa Inland Mission on our behalf?
Due to IRS regulations, AIM cannot return funds once they have been sent in because they are tax deductible donations to Africa Inland Mission.  AIM does allow us to re-designate funds to other ministries under AIM and we would likely transfer unused funds to other missionaries and ministries that also need the funds.  For those that have made pledges; if we do not go out onto the field, they should not be sent in, but we would encourage you to support other missionaries and ministries with those funds.  Again, these type of decisions will not need to be made now.

We are reminded over and over that we could not be on this journey without dear friends and family walking with us. We love you very much. Thank you for your encouragement and prayer. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
Love,
Erin and Brian
Hebrews 10:23

My Problem: Personal Story

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I don’t talk much about our child who has special needs because it somehow feels like a betrayal or me telling a story that only he should tell. But, last night was a doozy for us and it was a doozy for all of us. His special needs is a story for all of us to tell. I woke up this morning, exhausted and frankly, feeling sorry for myself and this “burden” we carry. And the endless tape keeps running through my head, “What can I do to change him? What am I doing wrong? What is the one missing piece that I need to “fix” him?” Over and over and over because I see him and his needs as a problem to be fixed. I am ashamed that I think that way. Because if I really think about it, I love this boy wholly and completely. He is not a problem. In fact, most of the time I am the problem because my frustration and anger always react first. Compassion rarely exists right at the surface so that it can be automatic. But I am working on it. Oh yes I am.

I love this devotion from Jesus Calling :

Make Friends with
The Problems In Your Life

Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me.

Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be.

The very same problem can become a stumbling block over which you fall, if you react with distrust and defiance. The choice is up to you, and you will have to choose many times each day whether to trust Me or defy Me.

Thankful,
Erin