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Volume 1, Issue 3 - October 2016
These are the stories we heard and saw one recent evening at Celebrate Recovery®:
All of these are priceless.
These are the stories we heard and saw tonight. Jesus is alive and still makes the miracles of new beginnings happen. And stories like this take place every week at CR!
Thank you Jesus!
--Brad & Renee Rutledge
One of the global missions that Eastridge Community Church supports and partners with is Brighton Their World, a non-profit that helps provide for the needs of orphans and children in vulnerable situations in Ethiopia. Many ministry partners have traveled to Ethiopia to serve with BTW over the years, have been voices of advocacy, and have served on their Board of Directors.
Here's the story behind BTW: Tymm and Laura Hoffman were adopting a sweet little newborn from Ethiopia, and they named him Brighton Asher. Brighton got sick as they were waiting on paperwork to travel and bring him home. In a heartbreaking loss for the Hoffmans, Brighton went home to heaven at just 76 days old. As they navigated their way through the heartache and grief, the Lord carried them, and they knew that the Lord would want to use this tragedy and Brighton’s short life to make a difference in the world for His glory. They kept coming back to infant nutrition.
So they started Brighton Their World and for the last eight years, BTW has provided formula to an orphanage in Ethiopia that has great need, provided holiday meals for the older kids at the orphanage, been a voice of advocacy, and led teams to serve in Ethiopia. It's a beautiful picture of redemption and beauty for ashes that God would use the tragedy of losing Brighton to provide possibly life-saving nutrition for hundreds of babies over the years.
Fast forward to the end of 2015. the Hoffmans and BTW sense God calling them to more than infant nutrition, to possibly a school. Knowing the hard realities of the imbalance of resources in the world, that our kids are able to have opportunities many kids in Ethiopia don’t have just because of where they are born, has always been heavy on their hearts. As they prayed, the Holy Spirit moved. In an amazing timeline that felt fully led by God’s hand, construction on the school began only a few months later.
Brighton Academy of Excellence hosted a summer session during the months of July and August, and a new school year began the last week of September. It holds classes for grades 1-4, and there are 199 students registered. While education is important and helps provide hope of a future outside of poverty, there is even more of a need in this area for basic resources of food and clean drinking water. So students at Brighton Academy will be provided with two full meals a day, and their families are able to fill up on fresh purified drinking water for the whole family from the school’s water tank and purification system. These three basic things truly will be life changing for the families in this area of Ethiopia!
Ninety-four students will be fully sponsored for both tuition and nutritional needs, while another 105 students are paying for their tuition but will be sponsored for their daily meals at school and water for the family. This “nutritional sponsorship” is only $12 a month! They are still in need of 70 folks to step up and commit to a monthly nutritional sponsorship for 70 of these sweet students.
Throughout the last five years, I personally have traveled to serve in Ethiopia with BTW four times, and I have spent some of the most heartbreaking and meaningful time at the orphanage where BTW sends formula. The hardest part has always been time with the older kids at the orphanage, because many of them aren’t able to be adopted and will age out of the orphanage as a young teenager and likely find themselves on the streets.
The more I’ve visited, and the older they’ve gotten, the more I see a sense of hopelessness in their eyes. Visiting them and letting them know the truth that God hasn’t left them as orphans, but that He’s their Father, and that we haven’t forgotten them has been so important. But the reality of what their life will likely end up like has plagued me and filled my prayers over the years. I’m so grateful and filled with joy to share that 14 of the sponsored students are kids from this orphanage. The opportunity to spend time away from the orphanage, with adults who care about them, getting two full meals, an education, and just love and attention could be life changing for them. I’m praying they have a spark of hope for what more their futures could be like.
If you’d like to commit to sponsor a student for $12 a month or would like more information on how you can partner with Brighton Their World and Brighton Academy in other ways (your classroom, your family, formula drives), email me at email@example.com or visit brightontheirworld.org/school.
Again, what a beautiful picture of redemption and beauty for ashes, that Brighton would be in second grade this year, and God is using his short (but meaningful) life to provide education and hope to 199 students.
Take heart, and be encouraged, that the Lord can use your difficult seasons and heartache for His glory and to make a difference for His name and His kingdom.
My name is Daniel Motes, and Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
In 2012, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and we were really happy. I was making life changes so that I could prepare to be a great dad. The pregnancy was perfect. My wife hardly got sick, she was in good shape, and we had no worries.
Our daughter Lillian was due to be born on April 24. The night before, we were lying in bed and we could see her moving around in my wife's belly like normal. My wife had a doctor's appointment the next day, and I was scheduled to go to work. The next morning, on the due date, we got up and got ready. I was excited, and I made a last minute decision to call into work and tell them I would come in later after the doctor's appointment. We thought they would schedule a time to induce that week if she had not gone into labor yet.
We got to the doctor, and they started to hook up the equipment to do their regular checks. When we should have heard a heartbeat loud and clear, we heard nothing. The assistant kept moving it around and finally she said, "Ugh, I think this thing is broken. Let me get someone else and see if they can fix it." When she left my wife looked at me with a little bit of concern, but I told her not to worry and they would have someone fix this machine.
Someone else came in and checked. Then when they couldn't hear the heartbeat, they asked us to come into the other room where we could have an ultrasound. They said it was possible the baby was in a position that makes it hard to hear the heartbeat. Once the young lady doing the ultrasound looked at us, we knew we had lost our daughter.
My wife cried in a way I never heard her cry before - in a way I had never heard anyone cry. She kept crying and saying "Baby girl, our baby girl." I just hugged her and cried with her. The staff at the OBGYN were upset and crying.
They took me into another room with a doctor. They said they saw a slight flutter but it could be my wife's blood flow going through our daughter. He said we needed to get to the hospital in case the flutter is from our baby. The staff walked us out through the back exit and we went frantically to the hospital. I still had hope in the back of my mind. My wife seemed to have hope, too. Once we got to the hospital, they informed us our daughter had passed.
They induced labor and hours went by while our friends and family were there. As a man, I was used to being headstrong and a person of faith through my love for Christ. I was so overwhelmed by this that I was frozen in shock. On the day we were supposed to be having a happy delivery, my wife was giving birth to our daughter who had passed just hours before. I can remember how dark things felt. I would go into the bathroom and sit and pray for help.
One thing that I will never forget is the love a mother has for her child. When my wife was having contractions and in a lot of pain, they kept giving her meds through the IV to numb her. Then when she was pushing, they were going to give her more meds. She stopped them and said, "No, I want to remember this." She didn't want to get so "doped up" that she would just be a zombie and not remember anything. That was her little girl. I saw how strong my wife really was and I loved her in a new way that is hard to explain.
We held our daughter for a little while before they took her. She looked like she was just sleeping. I can remember her looking just like my wife Andrea. We had our daughter Lillian Mae Motes buried at our local church. We felt strong for a few weeks. We had tons of friends and family helping us and praying for us. But things shortly turned a different direction.
I started drinking heavily every day. My wife and I started arguing. It was so dark in our home. We had a baby's room set up and ready, but it was empty. We had all of this love to give but nowhere to give it since we came home empty-handed.
My wife and I became distant - she stayed on the couch and I would go upstairs and bury myself in work. We sought counseling and it seemed to be helping my wife. I tried to see a counselor once and the counselor wanted to refer me to someone else. I just wanted to move on and felt that my wife couldn't. She wanted to try to have another child, but I was reluctant.
When things got really bad, we had friends and family trying to help and there were so many opinions that I just couldn't think clearly. I was still drinking every day. I felt ashamed of my weakness after proclaiming my faith as a Christian. So many people were saying they admired our faith and that we were so strong. I guess I didn't want to ruin their perspective.
I started having thoughts about our marriage. "What should I do? Should I move on and start over?" Looking back, I can't believe I had those thoughts. I was so selfish. One night, I just had the urge to get away. We were fighting really badly and I called my sister to come over and stay with my wife.
I got a hotel room for the night and had basically hit rock bottom. I took my Bible with me and just sat in the room. I started talking to God. I asked God for help. I was genuinely seeking Him. I prayed and said "Lord, I am not asking for a sign that You exist - I know You are there. I just really need Your help and I need my mind clear from all of these thoughts."
I prayed hard and I realized that the problem was me and how selfish I had been. The problem was that I chose alcohol over my faith, and I was impatient with my wife who had carried our child for nine whole months. I was overwhelmed with guilt, and I started crying and saying, "God, I am sorry; please forgive me and help me!" As soon as I said these words, I felt a weight come off of my shoulders - I had never felt this before. I felt free and clear-headed. I cried and kept thanking God over and over.
I went home the next day and talked to my wife. We had some ups and downs like any marriage, but we are stronger than ever. Months later, we had a beautiful daughter we named Gabriella, which stems from Gabriel and means "God is my strength." I actually helped with the delivery at the hospital and laid her on my wife's chest. That was the happiest day of my life. Many healed on that day, including our midwife which delivered our first daughter.
Our daughter Gabby is now three years old, and my wife just had a baby boy six months ago. We have only grown stronger from this experience, and we should have better character and endurance the next time something tragic happens - and it is inevitable that more heart breaks will happen. But I will know Who to lean on next time - Jesus Christ - and not to fight with my own selfish thoughts and actions. All glory to God for working on this heart of mine and turning something tragic into something beautiful!
The Bible says it’s “the goodness of God that leads to repentance.” God showed me His great patience and grace that night in the hotel room. These days, I don’t ignore the conviction I feel when I mess up. Instead, I praise God for showing me those things in my life which I need to get rid of so that He can mold me into the son of God I was created to be. My testimony is ongoing, and I will continue to experience the Lord work in my life and others’ lives. Thanks for letting me share my story.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
--Daniel Motes has been a ministry partner since 2015. He and his family live in Covington.
Johnny & Lolly Stone
If you'd like to become a Ministry Partner (member) at Eastridge, click here.
J D Duval
If you're interested in publicly declaring your faith in Jesus through baptism, click here.