It was July 2009 and my wife, Ann, and I had just agreed to send my daughter, Sarah, who was entering her senior year in high school, on a mission trip to Africa with people from a local church we didn’t know.
We were vacationing and decided to watch the movie, “Taken”. After seeing that, my wife was sure we could not send Sarah overseas, especially without me. Well, there was NO WAY I was going to Africa!
I had just lost my key associate pastor who was called to a church in Canada. I had not replaced him. I was overwhelmed with work here – no way I was going to Africa!! And that was final!!!
Then Susan, a woman I led to Christ 8 years earlier, approached me on Sunday morning saying, “Brad, God told me you need to go to Africa with Sarah.” I thought, “No way! No time! No desire! Forget it!” And I dismissed it out of hand.
Well, Susan was not so easily detoured by her my decisive no. The next Sunday, she walks up to me and asks very matter-of-factly, “So, Brad, you’re going to Africa, right?” And I told her, “I do not have time to go to Africa!”
Susan responds, “Well, will you at least pray about it.” I said I would, and I did.
That was my first ‘mistake.’ God seemed to whisper something to me. I couldn’t quite distinguish it. Well, He knew.
Then my wife approached me and said God told her I needed to go to Africa. To which I responded, “Honey, I’m not Liam Neeson and this is not “Taken” and Sarah will be just fine! I met the leader, great Godly man…forget it!”
Then God whispered again though a journal entry both my wife and I made on separate occasions within 24 hours.
So, I took it to our elder board, a little confused, and told them the story. I said, “I think God may want me to go to Africa, but I have no idea why!” They prayed and unanimously agreed, I needed to go to Africa.
Well, it’s a long story, but here are the cliffsnotes:
I went to Africa for only one week in 2009 and God took a wrecking ball to my heart at an orphanage called Bethany Village. Then, we visited schools and interacted with the poor and got up close and personal to a spiritual hunger among the African people like I had never seen before.
In 2010 I went back for 17 days and our church sponsored a leadership conference in the town of Kihihi. There I was at the ends of the earth. The building had a dirt floor and the worst sound system you’ve ever heard.
There I was, a reserved, semi-Presbyterian/Baptist chosen-frozen white guy amidst 500 African Pentecostals! And I said to God, “You’ve got the wrong guy!”
Two days later when I met back up with my team, they asked me, “Brad, how was it?” As I attempted to respond, tears welled up in my eyes. And even as I write this, they still do. I was so full! Then I knew I had to come back again.
In 2012, we went back, this time with a full team from our church, specifically to plant a church in Kihihi, Uganda. At the end of last week on that trip, as hundreds of people flooded into the church building for the grand opening, I sat down next to my amazing wife and watched as the building filled to capacity with people hanging through the wood window openings trying to get a glimpse and I collapsed into my wife’s arms and it was crystal clear, as I tearfully and joyfully trembled, “This is what God made me for.”
And so, as we came back, we asked ourselves, what did God show us? What did He invite us into? And we determined it was 4 specific things.
- Evangelizing Nations
- Planting Churches
- Inspiring Indigenous Pastors
- Creating Disciples by Creating Teams
And from that we got the name EPIC. See, EPIC isn’t something I thought up, it was something God revealed to me, to us, based on His word and based on the experience He invited us into. And it is EPIC.
The story continues. We have established key relationships with high level indigenous church leaders in Uganda. They are part of the EPIC host team. They help us with strategies to work in Africa and I believe God wants EPIC to plant many more churches-maybe even 100 or more!
But we will be faithful one church and one trip at time.
Founder and President of EPIC Global Missions