the big picture
Sonya and I have always referred to seeking God’s will and surrendering our lives to it as “this crazy adventure of following God.” So far, it’s led us from Mobile, AL to Louisville, KY, through Little Rock, back to Alabama, and then totally out of the South to the Midwest in Cape Girardeau, MO. In each step God has stretched and grown us. I started out as a church orchestra director, became a Music Associate, and landed as the head cheese of Worship Ministries (possibly a new title for churches to consider?). And now, the adventure continues. But this time, it mostly likely will be our last big change. The final adventure? We don’t know for sure, but that’s our commitment. For many years we’ve felt that we would end up in some ministry with Heart of the Bride. And that is exactly what God is calling us to.
Heart of the Bride was founded by Sonya’s brother and sister-in-law (Tony and Faith Gibson) 14 years ago. If you’re not familiar with it then please follow the link and get a sense of the scope of this ministry. To say “orphan care” just doesn’t do it justice. God has grown them into many more avenues than that. It’s not surprising, need is everywhere. Though we thought it was many years away, it wasn’t a total shock to us when Tony called us in September of 2013 to ask us to consider a position with HOB, though what he was asking may have been. We’ve always imagined ourselves in Kenya as a missionary family, or at least some place like that where HOB is working. But in the past few years our church has partnered with an HOB ministry in Kenya and our hearts are filled with a longing to be there (and perhaps swayed by a little boy we desperately want to bring back as a part of our family). Maybe one day that will happen but right now the assignment is different. Heart of the Bride is growing and there are many opportunities for it to continue growing. Not just in size but in scope. New roads to explore and people to touch. It has reached a point that growth will not happen unless HOB gets more help. More people. More resources. More U.S. partners. Well, we can help with one of those needs. What Tony asked us to pray about was this: me coming on staff with HOB to help him do what he does. To represent HOB around the U.S. and the world. To help develop and maintain partnerships. And, more specifically, to develop and oversee the discipleship efforts of HOB around the world as the Director of International Discipleship. Heart of the Bride is driven by two huge biblical mandates: to help widows and orphans in their need (James 1:27) and to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). We feel that this next step in our adventure has grown out of two areas of our lives: 1) our growing passion for the rescue and care of orphans and widows through HOB, and 2) the key verse and passion of our worship ministry:
…those who seek the Lord will praise Him… Psalm 22:26b
When God opened this verse up to us in 2006 it really changed the way we approached worship ministry. No longer did we feel called to “charge” people up to sing. We realized that we were called to lead people to seek God. If we really wanted people to worship the Lord, then we had to lead them to know Him. People who truly love God, who seek Him with all of their hearts, will gather and praise Him. So, we began to pray and lead in that direction. From that has grown a passion for discipleship, both group and one-on-one. And we have put it to practice. Even gone through training with Downline Ministries out of Memphis, not knowing how God would ultimately put that to use. And so, there it is. As the Director of International Discipleship, I will be developing and overseeing the discipleship efforts of orphans in Kenya, Haiti, Zambia, Ukraine and India, street kids in Zambia, a boys school in Haiti, and all of the college students receiving HOB scholarships around the world. And who knows what else is to come. It’s a huge task and I don’t even feel up to it. But God has called us and we will trust that He will provide everything, even the ability to accomplish His calling. There is so much more to share about our journey from September to now – fasting and praying, our kids fasting and praying, how our kids have grown so much spiritually through the seeking, family circumstances that have spoken so clearly – but this post has to end some time and I’m sure you have things to do. So, let me answer the big questions.
so, what does this mean for the Crisman family
Well, if you’re reading this now, we’ve moved to Crestview, Florida, 25 miles north of the Heart of the Bride office in Niceville. I am now working in the home office and will travel to our various ministries around the world from here. It is very different from what we thought God would ask us to do (having always imagined we would be on a foreign mission field together one day) and asks different sacrifices of us. I will be traveling and Sonya will be home with our family. We feel like this is a lifelong commitment. We have grieved over stepping out of full time worship ministry, our heart’s greatest passion now for 20+ years. But we have all prayed about this and feel that it is what God wants us to do. He is giving us a new calling and new passion, so, we accept our calling and we have stepped out. God sold our home in Cape Girardeau after it was on the market for only three weeks! Talk about confirmation. The next and final set is to raise all of our support. We will be self supporting missionaries so we are counting on God to provide our monthly needs through His people. One time gifts and early monthly supporters have given us enough reserve to move now, get to work, and continue building our partnership team to sustain us of the long term.
how can you help?
Pray. Please, pray. Transitions like this are always hard. This will be the hardest. Our kids are older and more connected. We feel at home in Cape Girardeau, MO. We love our church and we love our pastor. We have good friends and a ministry we love. If you would like to partner with us in this venture through prayer or financial support please contact us and let us know. We will get you connected and keep you informed of what’s going on in our ministry. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to begin writing on Godseekerblog.com more in the coming months to help you follow our journey and keep you informed of what’s going on.
Give. We need financial support. Our monthly expenses will be met through the giving of our partnership team. We are asking God to call people and churches specifically to help through a monthly commitment. We know He will move in some to give a one time gift and others through annual giving but we are praying for a large monthly partnership team to meet our monthly needs. If you would like to join our support team in one of these ways you can download our commitment form here: Commitment Card. The easiest and most economical way to give regularly is through automatic bank account drafts. If you’d like to set up a monthly amount draft you can download that form here: ACH Debit Authorization Form. I have also set up a Frequently Asked Questions page to answer the most commonly asked question about our transition and how to support us. Everything you need to have or know to join our support team can be found here, including the forms mentioned above.
the biggest confirmation
The biggest confirmation from the Lord came in the things that made Lynwood the hardest place for us to leave. Those reasons are also the things that made it the best place for us to launch into a new ministry like this: a loving and supportive Pastor, a body of Christ that supports missions and ministry around the world, good friends, and lots of love! Thank you for reading and caring about our family. We’re not sure of everything that is ahead, but we know it is God’s path for us.
Again, you may still have some questions so I put together a little FAQ page. If that doesn’t answer your questions please contact me directly. You can also get more info from Heart of the Bride’s office manager, Amy Bishop, at email@example.com or 850-678-9008.
For His Glory Alone,
Brian for the Crisman family