What is the mission or vision statement for One Body One Hope?
One Body One Hope was formed for the purpose of raising aid for victims of war and poverty in Liberia. Partnering with a church (Abide in the Vine) and an orphanage (Christ Our Hope) in Monrovia, this nonprofit organization provides a sponsorship program for orphans, relief and redevelopment aid for the church and community, as well as training for church and community leaders in Liberia. Through prayer, partnership, and financial, emotional, and spiritual support, we commit ourselves to working alongside our Liberian friends to rebuild their lives and their country.
Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted/needed to do something personally for the children of Liberia?
Aaron, my husband, and I have always had a heart for orphans. Even when we were dating, we often discussed our shared desire to someday adopt. It was when we were fulfilling that lifelong dream that we met Robert Bimba, the Liberian pastor who would become our connection to Christ Our Hope orphanage.
We were actually in Ethiopia at the time (not Liberia) picking up our infant son. Our travel dates had been pushed back one week because of a mistake on our court documents. We were devastated when we heard the news, but we believed that God must have a reason for postponing our longed-for union with our new baby. Not so surprisingly, we met Robert (who was staying at the same missionary guest house) only minutes after arriving in Ethiopia. It was one of those serendipitous encounters--those moments when you know that Someone much bigger than you is orchestrating lives according to his will. It became apparent over the week that we spend in Addis Ababa that God wanted to use this connection in ways we never dreamed possible.
How has God impacted your faith through the process of serving?
I feel like a little kid with my hands on the steering wheel of my Daddy’s big truck. He’s controlling the accelerator and brake, he’s steering with his big hands over mine, but he’s letting me sit on his lap and learn what it feels like to have the power to go places and change things. It blows me away that God loves us so much that he allows us to partake in his kingdom building. I’m not trustworthy! I’m not capable of making the Port of Monrovia open for containers we send. I’m not influential enough to ensure that the anti-malarial medication the kids need is not expired. But God is. And he continues to work in ways that awe me. My faith has been transformed since we began serving in Liberia. I know now that it is not (and has never been) what I do, but what God does through me and through others.
How do you balance your gift of writing with pouring into the ministry?
It’s hard sometimes, but thankfully One Body, One Hope has an amazing board of eight dedicated men and women who share the load. Our Treasurer has a gifted mind for finance, our Secretary keeps us all organized, and our Executive Director (my husband) keeps the mission and vision of our ministry before us. My workload for One Body, One Hope comes in bursts and spurts. I take care of all of our media, newsletters, mailings, and correspondence. I am also the official Registered Agent of the organization so I receive all our communication.
I noticed on your site that 100% of the funds given go to the child. What else would someone need to know about this ministry to make an informed decision about getting involved?
Because our board is so dedicated to our vision for helping these amazing kids, we do not have an operating budget. Instead, all printing, mailing, fundraising, and media work is paid for by our board members so that when you make a donation you can be assured that not a single penny of your gift is used to fund the management of One Body One Hope.
We are also very passionate about long-term goals in-country. In addition to making improvements to the orphanage and church we support, it is the vision of One Body One Hope to facilitate growth and redevelopment in Liberia. We do not intend to be wealthy benefactors who dole out money and then ignore the real needs of our African friends. Instead, we hope to partner with Liberian nationals to stimulate their economy, create jobs, foster work ethic, and raise up new leaders to help make Liberia a safe and stable country again. Some of the things that we are currently doing to promote this are: using local workers to make cement blocks and draw up plans for the different stages of our capital campaign, allowing our Liberian counterparts to set the vision and direction for both the orphanage and our involvement in it, and providing an education not only for the children at the orphanage, but also for the kids of the surrounding community through funds collected on behalf of the school. Some of our long-term goals include: offering job-training for older children so that when they are mature enough to leave the orphanage they have a life-skill and the potential to work a wage-earning job, providing educational grants for kids who would like to pursue higher learning, and continuing to seek ways to further train and educate the workers, church leaders, and teachers in the community around Christ Our Hope. One of the ways that we fund these endeavors is through our monthly sponsorship program. When a family decides to sponsor a child through One Body One Hope, we set aside five dollars every month from their thirty-dollar donation. This money is saved in a long-term fund for the child. When he or she reaches an age of maturity and “graduates” out of the orphanage, the money will be use as a nest egg to help the young man or woman start out a new life on the right foot.
What are the most pressing needs your ministry currently has?
We are in the midst of a big capital campaign. Right now, the kids at Christ Our Hope sleep three to a bed in a dormitory that houses 56 children (boys and girls) as well as the orphanage director and his family. They are, quite literally, on top of each other. We are in the process of raising $50,000 for a new dormitory, a security wall around the orphanage, a drinkable water line, a bath house, a library, furnishings for the school, new (safe) bunkbeds, and more. We are about halfway to our goal, but we have a ways to go!
In addition to the capital campaign, we are also currently looking for more sponsors. We are blessed to have 56 sponsor families for the kids at the orphanage, but now we hope to raise money for some of our adult workers and their families. The orphanage currently runs a community-wide Christian school that is staffed by eight university-educated men and women. These teachers work for nothing more than the one meal that is served halfway through the school day. But they have families to support! It is our goal to find people (or groups of people) willing to pay these teachers a monthly wage. For $75 a month (per teacher) we can do more than just support these men and women--we can begin to change their lives and transform their community. Most workers in Liberia make a scant dollar a day. We want to do more than that. We want to pay these educated workers a fair, competitive wage so that they can in turn help their friends and neighbors and begin to change the world around them.
Last of all, if you’ve been to our website, you may have noticed (you’d have to be blind not to!) that it is old and out-of-date. Since we have no operating budget, we have no finances whatsoever to fund the design and launch of a new website. Websites can cost thousands of dollars, and our board members (dedicated as they are) do not have the means to shoulder this sort of expense. It is our prayer that God will make a viable solution very apparent to us in the coming weeks and months.
Can you tell my blog readers more about who you are and what God is currently teaching you?
Yikes! That’s a tough question! Who am I…?
In no particular order… I am a wife of ten years to the man of my dreams (yup, I mean that--we are a one-in-a-million couple!), a mother of two (a beautiful six-year-old son that is the spitting image of his daddy and a breathtaking three-year-old that is our Ethiopian prince), a novelist (with three novels in print, another two waiting publication, and at least a dozen more rattling around in my head), an amateur photographer, a self-professed foodie, a lover of the great outdoors, a book addict, a wine enthusiast, and an eternal optimist.
What God is currently (and continually) teaching me is… that I am not in control (and have never been), that his plan for my life is bigger and better than the stuff of my wildest dreams, and that he loves me unconditionally, illogically, and with a furious abandon that I will never, ever understand. And I’m okay with that. :)
I'm so grateful to learn more about your ministry, Nicole. Thank you for being such a woman of character and vision. May God Bless your ministry, your family and your faith.