“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–4
In 1935 there was a young zealous Entomologist (a scientist who studies insects) who was doing research in the jungles of southeast Indonesia. After a full day of exploring and gathering data down the river, he realized that time had gotten away from him. It was about to get dark and he knew he needed to quickly get in his boat and head back to camp. On his journey, he realized that he wasn't going to make it back before nightfall. This posed a big problem because he had no light with him in the boat. As the sunset, it became so dark he could hardly see his hand in front of his face.
In a sheer moment of panic, he was terrified that he would never find his way back and most likely will be eaten by a predator! Amazingly in the midst of sheer panic, something very unusual and profound happened. In a state of panic and confusion, he sees what he thinks is a tree along the bank getting struck by lightning as it lights up the river. At first, he is startled, but as he made his way further, he notices that every mangrove tree on the right side of the river for over 100 yards starts lighting up. As he regained his faculties, he realizes that it is not lighting as he proposed, it is actually millions of "lightning bugs" or also known as "fireflies" that were covering the trees and flashing in synchrony. Flashing "on" and flashing "off" like something that could be seen at Disney World on a beautiful riverboat extravaganza.
The most interesting thing was they were not lighting up separately (independent of one another) like they are known to do. They were in beautiful harmony, in perfect synchronization. This was totally contrary to how this species normally functions.
This young scientist realized that this discovery was a phenomenon, because "lightning bugs" were intended to light up in the dark independently to gain recognition for reproduction.
He soon discovered that when lightening bugs light up independently that their success rate for reproduction is 3%. However, when they light up as an interconnected community their success rate increases to 82%. Everyone wins! I would say that we can learn a great deal from the "lightning bug!" It shows us that when we are spiritually connected with God and physically connected with others that we can live fulfilled, productive, happy lives and accomplish great things for the Kingdom. We can light up the darkness and shine brighter together in this world when we unify.
At the beginning of each year, we pray and ask the Lord for a foundational Word that will serve as a guide throughout our year. Our word for 2021 was "CONNECTION". As we close each year we take an opportunity to reflect on what God has done over the year and focus on celebrating all the WINS. This was truly an amazing year of connection even right in the middle of a pandemic where the connection with others is highly discouraged. But God!!
This year we have watched God connect us in places that we could have never thought possible. We are confident, that as we intentionally focused on His connection plan for our lives and ministry that doors opened that in the natural were impossible.
Here are a few of the highlights from the connections we made.
CONNECTION in Prisons
We have seen God do so many amazing things in the prisons this year through the KPM Leadership Academy incarcerated veterans program. We launched 8 new courses in three prisons. They are all maximum-security units and one of these is a death row-unit. The academy graduated all of the students with patriotic military ceremonies and cap and gown celebrations. These men are literally transforming right before our eyes! They are asked to do two things in our classes. First, we ask that they are truthful with themselves (dealing with the inside to bring about changes on the outside.) Second, we ask that they be transparent with others (building trust and being able to share their wins and losses in a safe place.) These two steps that require such a deep level of intentional action can be the very two steps that begin them on a journey of re-writing their life story and walking in true transformation. We guarantee if they will have a heart of honesty and integrity, they will produce positive results in their lives. Small steps can lead to BIG results! God is doing great things behind the wire!
Belize "You Sew She Sows Project"
We also connected with more young girls in our Belize and Guatemala sewing outreach. These girls have been rescued from human trafficking and devastating situations and circumstances. We are giving them a new life and purpose by providing spiritual and vocational training. Their cries are no longer silent! Their voices are now being heard. We believe this is a small start to something big to bring healing, restoration, and transformation in this region of the world.
We also are excited about the launch of a boutique this year. We were able to supply clothing, jewelry, shoes, equipment, etc. to assist with the start-up of this unique boutique. This boutique is giving hope, teaching skills, and helping to reach more girls and expand the program to other villages (there are approximately 150 villages in Belize.) This boutique will help these girls financially by providing a place to sell their clothing. It also will help support upcoming projects and supplies. Please pray for the safety and strength of those on the field who are working to make this vision a reality. Our vision for 2022 is to increase our transformational leadership video training to establish strong core values within these girls and share the love of God with them during their time with us. God's Word Changes Everything!
Africa Beyond Success Outreach
The KPM Leadership Academy has connected and expanded internationally over the last few months. We have joined forces with Lead Missions in Kisumu Africa to expand our reach with the KPM Leadership Academy. Together we are training transformational leaders to reach their families, workplaces, and communities. The outreach is quickly growing with the potential to reach the prison system in 2022. Currently, there has been communication with prison officials about training both prison guards and inmates. We are believing this outreach will also connect and expand to church leaders and students within the university. We have currently obtained the teachings in Swahili so this will assist in reaching further with the training in the surrounding regions. Please pray for those on the field to be protected and walk-in favor and access in those places that God desires for us to go.
CONNECTION with Jesus Christ
One of the greatest connections that we have experienced is connecting people to Jesus Christ. This year in our academy we have been so blessed to share the beautiful gift of salvation with hundreds of people. We have seen Muslims, atheists, agnostics, receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Also, many others who knew Christ at one time but who had walked away because of a shameful past and disappointment have surrendered their lives and returned to Jesus Christ. Once receiving Christ, many of these men have a passion to share their faith with others who don't know him. The veterans continue to discover new gifts within themselves, amazing talents, and discover newfound passion and meaning in their lives. We are blessed to see how God is changing lives for all eternity. There is no greater gift than the gift of knowing Jesus.
CONNECTION with Partners: We are so grateful for our connections with new partners who have joined us this year. Together we are seeing lives impacted and transformed by the love and power of knowing and sharing Jesus Christ. Our partners are the lifeline in this ministry as we unlock purpose and passion in those who have lost hope. We are global change-makers as we join together doing something so much bigger than ourselves. Together we unite to help bring change to the lives of those who are searching. We are so grateful for each one of you and we have great expectations of what we will do together in 2022.
Just like the lightning bug, as we are spiritually connected with God and physically connected with others it is then that we can "SHINE" the brightest in the darkest places around the world and accomplish great things for the KINGDOM!