|Posted on December 1, 2013 at 7:00 AM|
Dear Friends of Next Step,
A man got a job as a woodcutter. He was very excited about his new work, and worked diligently every day cutting trees. However, even though he put in the same number of hours and worked just as hard each day he found himself cutting down fewer trees each day than he had the day before. After a week of diminishing results, he went to his boss to assure him he was working as hard as ever. His boss said, “Have you spent any time at all sharpening your axe?” He had been so busy chopping trees that he had allowed his axe to become dull.
For the past several months I have been working in the forest of fatherless guys with a dull axe. I am physically tired and spiritually drained. I have succumbed to the flesh on multiple occasions and sin has dominated some areas of my life. My axe is dull.
After seeking godly counsel, I have determined to significantly slow down in my work with Next Step. For a season, I do not intend to promote or further develop Next Step. Lord willing, this will be a time of spiritual “axe sharpening” and personal revival, as well as relationship strengthening in our family. I will continue to mentor the guys I have already established relationships with, but our meetings will be less often. This time may be could be called a Sabbatical, fulough, or simply a break.
We praise the Lord for what He has done through Next Step the last several weeks. For 2 months our family was privileged to care for 16-year-old “Kent” (read his story here) in our home. He was in need of an immediate placement when his foster parent became incarcerated. While he was with us we saw his attitude improve, his self-control increase, and his grades go from D’s and F’s to 2 A’s, 2 C’s, and just 1 D. He has now moved to a permanent foster home but we expect to continue to be involved in his life, Lord willing. It was precious to hear him pray with our family at night before bed – a practice I hope will stick with him!
We have continued to host monthly prayer meetings where our list of fatherless guys keeps growing. The youngest on the list is 8 months old and the oldest is 48. We appreciate Berea Baptist Church of Bartonville, IL and El Vista Baptist Church of Peoria, IL who have not failed to have members present at every one of these prayer meetings for over a year. What an encouragement! Even the pastors come!
On November 21, Kristina and I hosted our first Thank You Event for Personal Investors. It was awesome to hear two fatherless young men and the mother of one share how Next Step has had an impact in their lives! Trayvon is in 7th grade and his mother accompanied him to the Event. Devon, who just a few months ago was homeless has since graduated from high school and is living in his own apartment. During this event, we also asked our Personal Investors to consider witholding their fincancial support while we take this break.
If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, we would love to hear from you. We’ll do our best to reply in a timely manner. Thank you so much for your support, interest, and prayers in this work. God bless you.
Standing in the Gap,