Friday, April 1, 2011

First, A Look Back

I know I said I was going to post today about the actual construction projects for Asikuma that will begin in August, but I changed my mind (glad it’s my blog and I can do that!)…..I am sure you already have a good idea of what we hope to accomplish on our next trip, so the exact details can wait until Monday. I think first, it is worth taking a look back on how this all started.

Rewind to our living room 2 ½ years ago. It was a few weeks after we had decided to adopt from Ethiopia that we had our first homestudy appointment. During our appointment our case worker (from a local agency, not the agency we were using for the actual adoption) shared some interesting things with us about her special Ghana adoption program that she was working on starting. I remember seeing Jake’s eyes light up, and then 2 hours later after an unplanned Q & A session with our case worker about Ghana I remember thinking, 'UH-OH – I see the wheels turning in his head.' I knew what was coming next. Our homestudy appointment ended, and as Jake waved good bye to our case worker and shut the front door he turned around and announced, “I think we need to consider adopting from Ghana instead.” Immediately I pictured all the time and effort I had spent on filling out and organizing paperwork for our Ethiopia program going straight down the drain. Not to mention the first fees we had already paid to the national adoption agency we had signed on with. All I could think about was all that hard work being lost, and starting all over again. And why? No matter which country we adopted from we would still be taking in an orphan. Immediately Jake explained his reasoning. “I don’t want to just adopt a child, take him from his country, never to return. I want to do something in the country to make a lasting impact. I want to create ties in the country, create relationships, and have reasons to travel back there with our child at least once a year. This smaller adoption agency has some great relationships and leads going in Ghana. We could use those leads to figure out how we can utilize our resources to help long term. Going with the larger national agency is going to make it harder for us to create intricate relationships in-country because there are so many intermediaries. The Ghana program would enable us to really get to know the staff members because it is so small. Plus, with it being a new pilot program we could help pave the way for other families into the country.” With that I think I mumbled something like “I’ll pray about it,” and then walked away thinking HE’S CRAZY!!!!! That was until the next day when I laid the kids down for their nap, flipped the Bob the Builder movie off, and God got my attention. As I flipped the tv from the DVD setting to DirecTV the channel happened to be on ESPN. And at that moment ESPN happened to be airing a special on a soccer program called Right to Dream….in Ghana, Africa. I think my jaw dropped open as I realized that this program practically mirrored the youth basketball program that Jake was currently running in Iowa….only it was for soccer…..and in Ghana. I remember thinking that this was something Jake needed to look into.

And he did.

And the rest of the story played out….

We switched adoption programs and agencies. Jake took his first trip to Ghana in February 2009 which ended up being paid for by the Right to Dream Academy to spend a week with them, and from there a vision was born ( Jake felt that he could mirror the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana, only instead of soccer he would help develop basketball players and give them opportunities for education. On this trip he also happened to give his business card to a young man playing basketball saying, “If you ever want to come to the U.S., give me a call.” And he did. Literally 3 weeks after Jake was home from Ghana, Yaw was on his way to our house, and our international hosting program was born (

From there we have had many conceptual ideas and visions of what could be accomplished in Ghana. We started off dreaming big ( and over a year’s time God narrowed our focus.

Our first Kingdom Hoops Ghana team was formulated and the international hosting program became our priority over building an academy for players in Ghana. We learned the student visa application process and in 2010, by God’s grace, we helped 3 young men get their student visas to come study in the U.S.

Key relationships in Ghana fizzled and others were created as God showed us who we could trust and who we couldn’t.

During the summer and fall of 2010 Nana & Esi’s lives intersected ours in huge ways, and we recognized that God was orchestrating something specific that would intertwine our hearts. We followed God’s prodding, merged our goals together, and the Isaiah 1:17 Foundation was born. We became an established NGO in Ghana.

Originally the idea of building a foster care home was what bound us all together, and eventually led us to the village of Asikuma. After our recent trip however, we have come to realize that there are more immediate needs that should be addressed first. And that is what I will be detailing in my next post.

I wrote this post because I want to continually look over my shoulder and see how far God has brought us. I don’t want to just go onto the next thing and the next thing and the next thing without pausing to reflect. God has ROCKED our lives over the past 2 years as he has opened up our hearts, directed us, and guided us to where we are. This journey has been an over 2 year process of going from project concept/vision to refinement to reality. And along the way each of our passions have emerged and formed the backbone of our Foundation’s mission.

Jake is passionate about educating Ghana’s youth, empowering them, and giving them OPPORTUNITIES.

I am passionate about orphan care, adoption, and creating awareness for the looming crisis of the ‘least of these’.

Doug and Dawn bring with them years of business experience that have been the gateway in structuring and developing our projects in sensible and practical ways. They also share in our passion for helping Ghana’s youth, and their entrepreneurial expertise has kept us grounded and given us clear direction.

From the beginning Chris’s interest has been allowing God to use his talent for building and construction for something that would have a great impact outside of America.

Esi’s own impoverished background has given her a heart for orphan care and needy-child assistance and her hard work and in-country connections and relationships are a huge asset to our team.

Nana’s motivation is to utilize his position as chief of Asikuma to bring in the necessary resources to help create change and development for his people.

And of course, over all of this, a beautiful adoption took place, and was the start of it all.

I can still remember that night in our living room as Jake shared his hope….I want to do something in the country to make a lasting impact.

We’re getting there. As you can see, it has been quite the process, but now God has brought us into the reality phase which is the most exciting part! It's time for action!!!!!!!!!


Lori said...

So exciting to read the story over and over. And I'll say it again, "it was never (only) about the adoption" so I love the story of the vision and adoption but more so the rest of the story. God is. We can.

A. Gillispie said...

Wow! Your testimony brought me to tears. It's amazing how the Lord has used you the past few years, and I can't wait to see what He accomplishes through you in the future!!!!

Angie said...

I love reading all the "history" of God's work in Ghana through your family! Thanks for sharing.