It was another exciting week for the Experience: AIDS exhibit, celebrating World AIDS Day last week in Long Beach, CA. We partnered with the Call2All Global Congress to advocate and educate future missionaries and their partners on the realities of HIV and AIDS around the world.  The conference was attended by current, future, and hopeful missionaries not only from the United States, but around the world.  It was a chance to share wisdom, opportunities and resources in reaching the world for Christ!

It was exciting to see peers on a “mission,” or on a mission to find the “mission.”  Ready, willing and open to whatever missions opportunity the Lord had prepared for them.  In life, many of us spend years searching for the right avenue to seek the Lord and the work that He has.  For our staff members, that’s the exciting part of World Vision.  Our mission is clear, to build a better world for children.

This is how we see it: to come along side and equip those in need to meet their needs, allowing them to look up, see Jesus, live in faith and be loved.  Meeting the physical, social, and spiritual needs of children and families around the world through child sponsorship is the passion of World Vision.  Collectively, through many different avenues, the “mission” is being carried out on a daily basis throughout the world.  From Burma to India, Brazil to Kenya, the Dominican Republic to Indonesia: life is being spread through simple “mission” partnerships.

During our time at Call2All, great conversation was made around “mission,” being Christ to those who need Him most.  We had a special time in Long Beach, stretching the exhibit to a new level, engaging with a whole new audience, and being apart of equipping the saints.  We wish all our new friends God’s faithful mercies in their new adventures, and extend many thank you’s for the lives of those changed last week through sponsorship!

The “mission” is ahead of us!  Keep running the race that is marked. God is our faithful partner running with us, pushing us to help meet the needs of millions around the world.

Partnering in the journey,

Dean, Kristin, Ange, and Trooper

What an AMAZING week in Greenwich, Connecticut!

In 2005, the Step into Africa’s very first event was in Grand Central Station in New York City. It was more of a prototype version back then, but it inspired some individuals from Greenwich and finally five years later, the Experience came to Christ Church in their Parish Hall. Christ Church Greenwich partnered with Trinity Church and Stanwich Church to support bringing the Experience into town.

Thank you to our amazing church planning team for all the efforts in spreading the word and getting people to help the children who suffer most from the AIDS crisis. God really moved this week in small and big ways and I would like to share with you some of these stories about how God involves himself in the small ways about our daily lives.

One story was of a woman who was inspired to sponsor a child, but was indecisive about a boy from Rwanda and a boy from Zambia. She asked me about World Visions work in Zambia and after some short thought, she put the children back on “the wall” as she had to leave with friends, but she said she would come back in a few hours.

As she was back looking at these two boys on the wall of over 100 children, she prayed for God to reveal to her who she should sponsor. As she looked, a lady who was next to her picked the Zambian boy to sponsor and walked out with it! She knew that she was to sponsor the Rwandan boy and was overjoyed as she left the Experience.

Another story actually involved me and it still stirs my spirit as I tell you this story.

For a year and half now I have sponsored a boy from Uganda. As this week moved on and hundreds of people came through everyday and children were being sponsored and love was felt all around, I felt led to sponsor another child from the community that Trinity Church had been partnering with for years now. The people from Trinity church had such a strong love for the people of Rwanda and this was evident in the first hand stories of many of them visiting their sponsored kids and World Visions projects in the field. Maybe it was partly their committment to Rwanda that inspired me, maybe it was the spirit moving me, maybe it was just a way to remember how special this week really was. In any event, I decided to sponsor a boy named Emmanuel.

I carefully looked through the many children available for sponsorship and read their stories. Emmanuel lived with his grandmother and 2 brothers and 1 sister. If he lives with his Grandmother, then one thing can be certain: He lost his parents, and he lost them likely to AIDS. His picture was echoing sadness and hurt. I felt it and I sponsored him, looking forward to the love I could give him in the form of gifts, writing and a potential visit like many of the community members of Greenwich, CT had done.

Well, our volunteer coordinator Wendy had noticed I had sponsored Emmanuel and was excited to tell me some news. At the end of our Experience, people write prayers and notes of encouragment to the children and families that are affected by AIDS. Wendy’s son Peter had written a special prayer for a child that was on the prayer wall and this is what it read:

“Emmanuel,

You will find that special person waiting to take care of you very soon!  Much love, From Peter  I hope you get this!”

As Wendy looked at the boy I sponsored, she realized it was the same boy Peter had prayed for. I was very moved. To think that in all the craziness and vastness of the world, our God still answers the simple prayer of a boy to another boy in a small Parish hall in Connecticut. Thank you God. Your heart breaks for Emmanuel and you love the children.

I am going to be sending this letter along with a picture of Peter to Emmanuel. Peter gave some stickers of animals to be included as well. I told Wendy if Peter ever wanted to send anything else, he could.

Together, we saw so many visitors this week and hundreds of children sponsored (check out our sponsorship thermometer below!)  Thank you God! Many hearts were touched and moved. Thank you again to the planning team of Greenwich for all your hard work and efforts. Brian, Chris, Wendy, Ray, Mary, Louisa, Drew, Ruth, and the many others — God Bless you.

In addtion, many special events happened including a Women of Vision dinner, An AIDS panel luncheon, an evening with Maya Angelou and a childrens choir from Tanzania. It was a full week and I leave making lifelong friends.

Next stop: Bourbonnais, IL in August!  Stay tuned for more updates!

Much Love,

Shawn