Many of you reading this have heard part of our testimony before. For those who haven't, here is a short version of how our lives were radically impacted by none other than God! It also includes how Show Mercy International began. (from Lori's perspective)
We (Mike and Lori) were married in 1995. It really was a match made in heaven (more about that another time). We had Sarah in 1997 and Katelin came along in 1999.
We lived in many different places during Mike's career which started in 1994 until 2002. Mike's job (Enterprise Rent-a-Car) was full of opportunities for promotion and open doors. Our last stopping place was Tennessee. We moved there 2 weeks before Katelin was born in Knoxville. While there, we had what most would call, The American Dream. We lived in a beautiful house over looking the Smokey Mountains. Our fancy sports car was parked in the garage and we had the family Suburban like everyone else. Our life was great. We belonged to a great church and had many friends. We were enjoying life for the most part, but something always seemed to be missing or out of place.
Heart Burn from God
In 2002 we were visiting a church in Kansas City, MO. While listening to an inspiring speaker, Mike began to feel a burning sensation in his chest. He had this thought he would be leaving his job and felt he was to do what the inspiring speaker was doing - challenge others to live on purpose.
Of course when he shared this with the me (Lori), I wasn't sure what to say. You want to support your husband, but when your husband suddenly gets an urge to lay down his career and go after the unknown (that's called walking by faith), it's hard to get excited and confident in the outcome.
For Sale by GOD
Mike felt we were to put our house up for sale. He had a picture in his head of a for sale by owner sign with the "by owner" part marked out and replaced with "by God". If you know Mike, this isn't his typical way. He is a thinker and planner. He isn't normally prone to jumping off of cliffs unless he knows the plans, strategies, timing and end goal result! (I'm kidding about jumping off of cliffs, but you get the point. Cliffs = Radical seemingly crazy adventures in life that take you off your planned out previously beaten down path by someone else)
We did just that...put a sign in our yard. "For Sale by God"! I've always wondered what our neighbors thought. Of course we had several people look at our house and love it. One couple (who I remember as being from Asia somewhere) set up an appointment to view our house for a second time. The day was October 16, 2002. It was Columbus Day! (How do I remember these details...probably because I was traumatized at the thought of selling my house to go to WHERE? and for WHAT? I am a little sarcastic if you can't already tell) They actually called that afternoon to cancel their appointment. The reason - It's Columbus Day and the banks are closed. What does that have to do with view my house for a second time? I really don't think Columbus would have minded :) Well, reading into this reason, I assumed they were wanting to make an offer on our house and because it was a holiday, they wouldn't be able to put any money down to secure our house.
GOD's Voice - He is speaking all the time
Being the woman of faith that I am, I PANICKED! I called Mike sobbing and questioning this crazy plan. After he got home, he went upstairs into the girls play room to spend some time with God. After a while there, I heard him yelling with excitement. Again I remember the details just like it was yesterday. My girls were in bed sleeping. It was 10 o'clock at night and Mike was yelling with excitement, "We're moving to Oregon. Crabtree Oregon that is!". WHAT????
While Mike was praying, he told God he would do anything for him and go anywhere to serve him, but he just needed to know where. Mike describes God's response as a very loud booming inner voice speaking to him. God said, "Crabtree Oregon. You will find it south of Portland on a map." (Yes, God does still speak today!) After Mike heard this, he went to the internet and pulled up weather.com. At that time there were only two Crabtrees in the USA that pulled up. One was Crabtree, Pennsylvania and the other was sure enough, Crabtree, Oregon.
Ummm... God Could You Talk to Me Too!
He was so sure and confident, I didn't know what to do, other than to quiet him down so he wouldn't wake our sleeping babies. I remember how shocked I was and all the thoughts that began to run in my mind. I had never been to Oregon and had never even thought of moving that way. The thought of moving so far from our families was hard to swallow too. With too much uncertainty in my heart, I simply said, "God will have to confirm it to me too!"
This happened on a Monday evening. That very week, there were three different things that happened to confirm this "crazy" move.
The Phone Call
The first two confirmation were important (as I reflect), but at the time, they weren't enough to help push me to edge to take that leap of faith. I finally asked God to just have someone call me and guess what happened. Yup, you guessed it. A friend of ours was awakened at 5am on Tuesday morning (that was just 7 hours after Mike heard Crabtree, Oregon). She waited until Sunday afternoon to call. She shared some special things the Lord had spoken to her heart about our journey to come. Lastly, she said to me, "I saw you and Mike rounding a corner and turning left into some pine trees. I heard the Lord say, Oregon (said like Or-EE-Gone). Does that mean anything to you?" Can you believe it? I was in shock. Tears began to stream down our faces. Our God, the creator of this entire universe, took the time to wake up a friend and tell her about our next season in life. He knew we would need a phone call even before we asked!
There is so many more details to our move out to Oregon, but you'll have to get our book to read them all! (we are in the process of writing our journey over the past 9 years for others to read. We know it will inspire others to take their leap of faith into the path God has for them!)
Africa...Light of my Life
Once we arrived in Oregon, we weren't sure what we were to do. Again there are so many stories we could share. Long story short, after 9 months of waiting for direction, Mike traveled to Rwanda Africa with an evangelistic mission team. He experienced God's miraculous healing power when praying for the sick. He saw many people come to know Jesus as their savior. The most impacting thing during that time though, was all of the orphaned and abandoned children walking the streets. Young girls were selling their bodies to earn money just to eat and stay alive. Little children were digging through the trash dumps hoping to find a tiny morsel to satisfy the hunger pains inside. Mike was devastated by these things and knew inside we needed to do something.
At first, we thought we were to make business investments to help raise large sums of money to help. This seemed like the easiest thing to do, but God had another plan for us. After some time, Mike convinced me that I needed to travel to Africa and see first-hand what had impacted him so much. Honestly, I didn't want to travel overseas. I had so much fear of the unknown. It's a miracle God got me to Oregon, but to Africa? Well, somehow I got on that plane headed over. We visited Uganda. Again there are so many amazing stories to tell. God used Africa to reveal the heart beat of love to me personally. I was forever changed on that trip.
Just Do It
When we returned back to Oregon, we began sharing with friends what we had seen. Now keep in mind that we never planned to start Show Mercy. We never knew we had a heart for orphans, nations, people, etc. Before we knew it, a few people wanted to give us money so we could build a home for children. After a series of events, we eventually realized we needed to start a non-profit. We called it "Show Mercy" after the story in the Bible of the Good Samaritan (Found in Luke 17).
Show Mercy International was founded in September 2004. The vision started small - house 50 children and help them to live life on purpose. Over time God has expanded our vision. We now have 100 children in our full time care. We help to provide primary education for over 200 village children and we now have a 25 acre base called The Field of Dreams. We have teams from all over the world stay at our base and we are reaching out in love to the surrounding muslim villages.
Our Next Adventure - Another Cliff
A new journey begins for our family in June 2012. We will be moving from Oregon to our base in Uganda for 6 -12 months. We plan to establish a team of leaders to help oversee God's operations in Uganda. We know there are many "serendipitous" surprises waiting for us there! It's a day to day journey of faith. We hope this blog will help to record this next Salley adventure. We invite you to join us in Uganda. There is a place for you.