Kari and I, with our family, are extremely pleased to be part of your missions program and to have First Baptist Church join us as the first church to partner with us outside of our sending church.
I was privileged to grow up in a missionary family that served in Central African Republic, then France, and finally Quebec City, Canada. After graduating from Northland Baptist Bible College, God used circumstances in my life to direct me into a variety of teaching opportunities and then in the mid-90s, I was able to minister in the country of Mali, West Africa for a little over a year. This experience brought Kari and I together, having met before I left, and we were married when I returned to the States. While we initially thought God might want us to return to Mali, He closed that door and we settled here in Kokomo. I've been primarily using construction skills in a small contracting business here in Kokomo, IN. Bible Baptist Church of Kokomo has been our home church and has sent me on more than 15 short one or two week missions trips. Besides, serving in various ways in the church here, God opened the door for me to be a volunteer chaplain in our local jail for 15 years, and provided teaching opportunities at Kokomo Christian School and Northwestern High School.
Kari grew up in a number of locations, moving from Michigan, Arizona, California and Alaska. She got her college education in teaching at Cedarville, and then God took her straight to Kokomo to teach at Kokomo Christian School. She served in that school from 1991 till the school finally closed in 2012, and has ample opportunities to serve here at Bible Baptist Church, as well. Since the school closed, she has taught our children here at home and been employed as the queen of our castle. In more recent years, she has been able to be involved in our local home school group, KASH, using coaching skills, teaching some PE and organizing drama activities.
In 2015, God supernaturally enabled Kari and I to go to South Africa and fill in at The Pines during the absence of their general manager. Phil and Alana came back to the States for an extended absence, so we were able to stay and serve for 9 months. God used this time to work in our lives, hearts and minds. We left there convinced, along with the staff of The Pines, that God was calling us to go back and join the work full time. We traveled to Longmont, CO in April of 2016 and joined the mission at that time. The continued open door, as well as God's continued provision, have helped to confirm what we believe God's call in our lives to return to The Pines.
The Pines, a ministry under the supervision of Ambassadors International Ministries, Inc., has been in operation since 2005. In that year, God used the passion of Dave and Sally Seefried to seek to make a difference in the lives of those affected by AIDS in the central South African state known as the Free State. Their thought was that the best way to have a positive influence was to start a Christian Children's Home to welcome kids of all ages who had been robbed of caretakers and parents by the dreaded disease. Their purpose has been to use this home to do more than just keep the kids fed, protected and clothed. They believe that The Pines can be instrumental to 'train up each child' in a way consistent with the Scriptures so that each one will be a living example of God's goodness and be part of a new generation that will bring others to God's kingdom.
God brought the Seefrieds and Harmony Mines together and through this granted access for their 'Home' to be started in an unused collection of buildings that were the headquarters of the St. Helena Mine. The past eleven years has seen changes and improvements in the facility. 30 children currently live at The Pines, residing in one of four 'flats' and taken care of directly by a national 'mama'. Self-supported staff members take care of administrative needs and provide needed structure for smooth operation. Sally Seefried, serving without her husband since his passing in 2008, lives at The Pines for three quarters of the year and reports back to churches for part of each year, as well. Phil and Alana Carmichael stay the helm year-round and provide excellent leadership with help from Linda Wade, a nurse from England, and Frans Manaka, a national Pastor who serves as Liaison Officer with the courts and principal driver.
We are thrilled at the prospect of returning quickly to The Pines to help with much the anticipated expansion of usable facilities, as well as the maintaining of existing facilities. Kari will be able to use her expertise in organization and education to relieve some of the duties of Sally and Alana. We have an unwavering confidence that God will get us there soon and that, once there, He will give us understanding, strength and wisdom to maximize our impact on the children, the church and the community of Welkom, South Africa.
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