The Road Ahead by Travis Sharpe

As most of my readers already know, I just returned from a two week trip to the Philippines. I had a few goals in mind for this trip and I have to tell you that I have been completely overwhelmed by all that God has done. So many of you have been involved in helping us get things up and running over there, for which I am grateful, so I am especially happy to write today with some great news. In a nut-shell, while I was there, the Lord gave me very clear direction about the road ahead.

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But I’m not going to keep the good news in a nut-shell, I’m going to share with you what God shared with me. Honestly, I have been praying for months that God would give me clarity and show me the next steps to take. I knew where I wanted to go but I didn’t know the way. Ever been there?

But two Sunday mornings ago, in a matter of about five minutes, literally, five minutes, The Lord spoke to my heart, erasing every single question I had and replacing them with instructions. Very clear and precise instructions.

I sat on those instructions for a day and a half. During that time I prayed over them and praised God for them. I gotta tell you, there’s nothing like receiving a word from the Lord! It’s a great privilege and honor when the King of Kings speaks to your heart. For me, it’s humbling and also gives me great confidence. It’s humbling because God chose to use me and it gives me confidence because it’s his plans, not mine.

The next day, we had a board meeting and I presented to them what God presented to me. All were in agreement with the plan and we spent hours dreaming about all the possibilities for the children whose lives will be changed forever.

Our plan explained

Basically, here’s the four things I feel God has told me, and what we agreed upon as a board to pursue.

1. Install a new leader

Before I left on the trip a couple weeks ago, my friend Ron said something to me. He said that, as leaders, we need to be cultivating more leaders, not just more followers. That statement kept resinating in my mind and it turned out to be a big part of what the Lord spoke to me about.

Remember I told you that God spoke to me that first Sunday? I was sitting at the back of Graceway Baptist Church listening to my friend, Pastor Jezer, teach Sunday School. He started that church a few years back and it is located in a little mountain village called Bug-ang. Pastor Jezer is also a teacher in the public school system. As I sat there listening to him teach, impressed by how good of a teacher he was, I felt the Lord was telling me that I was to ask him (Pastor Jezer) to take on a leadership role within Unsheltered International Philippines.

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He is already on our board of directors, and has been from the beginning, now I would ask him to become the Director of Child Development and be the person to head up our (future) orphanage and school. When we presented this new opportunity to Pastor Jezer, he accepted without hesitation. He later testified how that he felt like this new opportunity was an answer to several of his prayers.

2. Purchase land 

With Pastor Jezer in place as the leader, the next step is to purchase land in or near Bug-Ang, where his church is. We have been saying for months that when we do build an orphanage, it needs to be away from the city and in a mountain area. The two reasons for this are that we feel strongly that removing children from the city is going to be a key part of helping them and land is much cheaper and available in the mountains.

We will look for a tract of land that will be adequate for building on and also for growing gardens and other uses. As a board, we feel that three hectares is the right amount. Thats about 71/2 acres. Pastor Jezer and Pastor Antonio are already putting together some great plans to grow crops and raise animals that will help the orphanage to sustain itself. I am excited to see what God brings our way.

3. Build an orphanage and school

Once we secure the right piece of property, the next steps will be to construct an orphanage and a school. Our first building will be large enough to accommodate 25 children. I am going to rely upon the expertise of Pastor Antonio and Pastor Jezer to design these two buildings. They have extensive knowledge of the type of structures that will work the best and meet our needs while at the same time being as affordable as possible to build.

One thing that I did not know until after the Lord spoke to me about all of this was that it is the dream of Pastor Jezer’s wife, Ma’am Russell, is to build a school and teach the poor children in their village. There are lots of children there who’s families cannot afford to send them to public school. Talk about confirmation! We’ll find a way to include them in the school.

4. Sponsorships for the children

Some of you know that we have begun a trial of sorts with a sponsorship program for individual children. One of my goals for this trip was to spend time working on our plans to move that forward. We have six children who are currently paired with sponsors and to be honest, it is a real challenge.

The biggest hinderance is that the children are still living in extremely difficult and unstable environments. Our staff is keeping up with them and the sponsorships are making a difference for sure, but there is a better way. We will pair children who enter our orphanage with a sponsor. The sponsorship will enable the child to enter the orphanage and receive shelter, food, clothing, medical attention and enrollment in our school.

The stability that the program brings will ensure that the child has every opportunity to succeed. The sponsorship will ensure that the programs will continue and each child can grow and learn in a safe, loving enviroment. Now that’s a win-win situation!

In conclusion

Of course there will be more things to figure out and this will all be a challenge. I fully understand that. But the biggest thing, knowing exactly what God wants, is out of the way. My job from here on out is to follow orders!

I am praying that many, many people who are passionate about sharing God’s mercy and love with the most forgotten, will join us on this adventure. With our street outreach ministry in full swing each week, and plans for the orphanage and school in place, we are set to make an eternal impact on hundreds of lives for years to come!

I hope you will join us, we can make a difference together!

 

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