Friday, September 25, 2015

Upside down

I won't ever get sick of telling it. Of how God interrupted our lives that day in September seven years ago. "I want you to adopt." Of how I feared we'd be losing - losing our picture perfect American family, losing our close relationships with our biological kids, losing opportunities of what we could give our 'own' kids if we were taking care of someone else's. And what if this adopted child hurt us? Hurt our kids? Was mean and had issues and ruined our family? Every thought I had about this coming adoption was that of loss. Loss, loss, loss. But I didn't yet know it - the upside down way of God's kingdom. "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it (Matthew 16:25)." I didn't yet know that when you lose for His sake, you actually gain so much more. It doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense that this adoption that I thought would mess up our biological kids has instead shaped them in ways that we want them to be shaped. That they've learned to lay down their lives and give until it hurts because that is what Jesus did for us. And they won't just read it in their Bible. They will know it because they've lived and breathed the surrender and the sacrifice every day in our home. Through Justice's adoption we've gained the uncovering of our calling, our spiritual gifts and how they are to be used for His kingdom. And when you are fulfilling your calling and operating in your God-given gifts, you feel ALIVE. We've come alive. We've gained a wild testimony of God's justice, His sovereignty, His grace. Who picks out an orange-haired African to match the same exact orange-haired children in a white family in Huxley, Iowa? God does. And through it He whispers to us all that He sees, He is not a distant God, He is closer than we ever dared to have thought. And more than all this, through Justice's adoption, we have gained an intimacy - a closeness with God, that we never would have experienced had we continued on living the comfortable, status quo path of a life we were headed down. You grow closer to God when you need Him. And oh how we have needed Him. It is worth our very lives if all we do this side of heaven is gain that.

So yeah when you look at it all on paper, it doesn't make sense. But I never really liked Math anyways. I thought we were adopting to help change the life of a needy child, but through it the Lord ended up changing us so much more. Today we praise God for this interruption, and celebrate 5 years of Justice being home and in our family. And today we know it better: He means to bless us. It just comes in unexpected, upside down ways.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our Mission Center

Our mission center in Asikuma, Ghana has now been operating for just over 1 year!

We are currently home to 27 children.

In January 2015 we also completed a temporary structure adjacent to our mission center to serve as a school. This is where the children of our mission center attend and it is also open for enrollment to the Asikuma community.

For this 2015-2016 term, we have two teachers who just graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa who have jumped on staff at the school. They teach along with a team of Ghanaian teachers, and are purposing to help develop curriculum and teaching strategies for the school. These two students, Mary and Anna, went on one of our trips to Ghana a few years ago and now live at our mission center while they receive this one of a kind teaching experience. You can keep up with them on their blog here:

This is our head house mother at our mission center, Comfort…

Jake and I have known Comfort since 2012 when she cared for our daughters at her foster home in Accra at the time. At the opening of our mission center last August we had recruited Comfort to move from her city life in Accra out to the rural village life in Asikuma to care for the children at our center. Comfort runs a great schedule at our center, and the kids noticeably thrive under the daily routine that has been established. The children know what to do, what to expect, and what is expected of them. Comfort of course loves children, and is especially fond of babies and toddlers. She really lives up to her name - is genuinely welcoming, kind, and compassionate. One thing that I appreciated when I was at our center last month was something I noticed during bath time for the little ones. Comfort had a bucket a little over half full of cold water ready for the baths. But right before starting she ran inside to grab a saucepan of water she had warmed on the stove which she then mixed in with the cold water to take the bite off. Loved that thoughtful touch.

Comfort receives a monthly salary from Acts 2 Collective and her two children Ajete and Rosemund also live with her at our mission center.

Helena is the house assistant to Comfort at our mission center.

She usually can be found in the kitchen helping to prepare the next meal or playing with one of the children. In Ghana, cooking can be an all day affair so it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare meals.

Helena also has been a big help in guiding and teaching the older girls we’ve taken into our center from Cape Coast. During my time at our mission center I noticed that Helena has an integral role of modeling to the girls how to act appropriately and manage the tasks of a woman in the Ghanaian culture. The Cape Coast girls have never been taught these things before. Now they are learning how to be nurturing and caring to the children as well as learning how to cook, clean, and act socially appropriate....much of which they learn by it being modeled and taught to them by Helena who is close in age to them.

This is not an easy undertaking and there are a lot of battles that go along with guiding these teenage girls, but Helena keeps a very light-hearted approach to it, and holds accurate expectations of them. Helena was raised in Asikuma, left for a time to attend school, and now is back and lives at our center. She is also paid a monthly salary.

This is another of our house helps, also named Comfort, but I like to think of her as Grandma.

Every home needs a Grandmother's presence to bring in softness and gentleness. Grandma Comfort arrives at our mission center in the mornings and stays until evening time before going back to her own home in Asikuma. She is there to provide an extra set of arms to hold and love on the children and also helps with the day to day housework like laundry. The afternoon that I strolled up to take this picture it was midday. Grandma was sitting outside under our wrap-around-porch in the quiet stillness of the afternoon, all snuggled in with our littlest addition to the center, Madjoa. The whole scene was just peace to me, and I loved seeing Madjoa alert and bright-eyed yet content as could be on Grandma's lap. Just how it should be. Grandma Comfort is also one of our paid staff and we are so thankful for her presence at our mission center.

Next up we have Wisdom (pictured left), James (pictured right) and Patrick (pictured center).

Wisdom is the 'man of the house' at our mission center. He does EVERYTHING! He is Daddy to the kids living at our center, handles the intake process for the children who come to live at our center, hires and manages staff, coordinates volunteers, organizes paperwork for each child, runs errands, runs kids to doctor appointments, handles community relations, oversees each part of our campus including the school, feeding program and agriculture, is a leader, visionaire and manager of our Asikuma projects, and basically keeps the place running! Our mission center is thriving in large part to how God is using the leadership and presence of Wisdom. He is a trustworthy and humble servant of the Lord. They just don't come any better.

James works for AgriHope - one of the organizations under the umbrella of Acts 2 Collective. James is from Zambia, but the Lord recently led him to pick up and move his entire life to our mission center in order to help us with creating sustainable farming. And the man is passionate about what he does! On my recent trip I received a very thorough rundown of the farming methods he is employing at our center - all the way from irrigation channels to how to blanket the crops. In as much as we know that James has come to plant physical seeds to grow a harvest, we know that the Lord has also drawn him to Ghana as an evangelist to plant seeds of the gospel in hearts. Just recently he has become friends with one of our mission center groundskeepers and has been encouraging him in his walk with the Lord via using his Iphone to translate from English to French. We love how God is using James to spread His word among our staff, and of course his crop growing skills are top of the line too! Some photos of the corn starting to grow at the mission center….

Patrick, aka 'AJ', is one of the handful of young men assisting James with the manual labor portion of the farming. This is in exchange for Acts 2 Collective paying for his school. I first met Patrick one night when it was pitch dark and I was walking back to the hotel from our mission center all alone. He had just fetched water and was riding his bike back home. He stopped to introduce himself to me the foreigner and just had the friendliest that kind-hearted older brother sorta feel. It was like God used him on my walk back to the hotel to whisper peace and that He was right there with me, watching out for me. Patrick is the definition of hard worker. I feel the Lord has opened a door for him into our center to be rewarded for how he labors wholeheartedly to provide for his younger siblings.

Our prayer is that our mission center would continue to be a refuge, set apart in the community where all who set foot on the grounds will experience life and peace.

[Pictured: Patrick’s sister Patricia comes to our mission center to help do laundry for her family.]

Friday, September 18, 2015


On our August trip to Ghana, one of the needs brought to us was that of Regina. 

Our Acts 2 Collective team was taken to Regina by our in-country staff member, Claudius, who had come across her need while visiting her community during an outreach in Cape Coast, Ghana. At the time Regina was extremely sick, lethargic, malnourished, 8 months pregnant and all alone. A2C had since been providing for her prenatal care, getting her to doctor's appointments, providing food, and ensuring that she returned to health so that she could be strong for the labor process. 

Earlier this week we had reason to rejoice as Regina gave birth to a healthy boy weighing in at 6 pounds 13 oz! He was named Kobina which means Tuesday born.

Mom and baby were discharged from the hospital yesterday, yet the story and need did not end there. Regina is 15 years old. She does not have experience in handling a newborn baby or in taking care of herself as a nursing mother. Abandoned by her own mother as a young child, Regina is on her own.

Traditionally in Ghanaian culture it is customary that a new mother receives care and training in how to be a mother from her own mother. It is customary that the grandmother of the new baby prepares meals for the mother while she regains her strength. The grandmother also passes on the practical knowledge of how to bathe the baby (of utmost importance in Ghana to prevent infections), care for a newborn, and teaches the nursing mother how to care for herself – eat appropriately for breast-feeding, etc. There are other cultural values of motherhood that a new mother gradually learns as her own mother walks her through it. Unfortunately, Regina has no one to walk her through this.

In order to meet this need, earlier this week A2C interviewed for a motherly figure in Cape Coast who could serve as caretaker to attend both mother and baby. Yesterday a surrogate care-giver was hired, and just in time as Regina and "Koby" headed straight to her home upon leaving the hospital.

Heading to the home of their new care-giver.

Baby Koby all tucked in at his new "home".

Our staff explains our commitment to the caregiver.

Getting baby Koby his mattress, mosquito net and bath kit.

These are the types of real situations and real lives that you are impacting when you give to A2C. Specifically, we are always looking for 1200 Club members who can pledge to give monthly and help us to meet needs that come to us, just like Regina's. You can find out more and sign up to be a 1200 Club member here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

HIV Care ~ New Territory

Over the past month we have taken in five new children into our mission center in Asikuma, Ghana who are HIV+. Taking in HIV orphans to our center is new territory for us. We are starting to understand that the HIV/AIDS situation in this region in Ghana is more prevalent than initially thought. This is especially the case in a nearby town to Asikuma called Peki, which is a ten minute drive from our mission center. Currently we are becoming educated on the virus/disease and are working to understand the treatment options available in Ghana.

Many of the HIV orphans coming into our care have had their parents recently die of AIDS. For those families who are still surviving with the disease, they are stigmatized in their villages, which is in itself life-threatening as no one will buy the goods they sell to create a business for themselves. In the stigmatization, their opportunity to produce an income and therefore meet the physical needs of their family is not existent. At the same time, most of these living with HIV in Ghana are going untreated and unmedicated due to their situation of poverty. This means their body’s immune system continues to self-destruct as time goes by. This makes them even more susceptible to the diseases and sicknesses in the country that a ‘healthy’ immune system would be able to guard against. For young children, untreated HIV grants them a life expectancy of about 12 years.

On top of all this, we are finding that the doctors in Ghana also discriminate against HIV patients and do not want it known that they treat those with the disease. Additionally there are already few doctors in Ghana who are trained to assess and monitor HIV patients. These two factors combined have presented quite the hunt for us in uncovering access to effective treatment.

Long term, Acts2Collective is looking to develop an HIV Center/Clinic where HIV testing can be available, patients could come for checkups and have their blood levels checked consistently (imperative to the process of treating HIV with medicine), and the center would also contain a pharmacy and administer the doses for the daily medications needed – namely for the children in our mission center. The architectural drawings for the center are already complete. It will cost about $75,000 to build.

Short term, Acts2Collective needs to adequately be able to care for the HIV cases brought to us. Mainly funds are needed to cover doctor visits, medicine, and cost of physical needs for those we are caring for.

One such case is of a 9 year old girl named 'E' who is HIV+.  She lost both of her parents to AIDS and was being taken care of by her grandmother, but just two weeks ago her grandmother also passed away. Acts2Collective has been turned to for help in caring for 'E'.

Another case is that of 7 year old 'B' who is also HIV+.  He was recently abandoned by his mother in the village of Asikuma and is now being taken care of and living at our mission center in Asikuma.

Then there is 'M'….'A'….and 'J'…. The stories do not relent and the children in need keep coming. We want to be in position to provide a safe place for those turning to us for help, as well as to be able to take an offensive approach in effectively treating these children living with this virus.


HIV is spread in three main ways: Sexual contact, IV drug use (through the sharing of dirty needles), and mother to infant (through pregnancy, birth or breast feeding). HIV is not passed from one person to another by casual contact such as: touching or hugging; sharing household items like utensils, towels, and bedding; contact with sweat or tears; sharing facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, or toilets; or by coughing/sneezing.

HIV is not found in sweat, urine, feces, tears, saliva or snot. It is found in blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk.

While HIV may live for a short while outside of the body, HIV transmission has not been reported as a result of contact with spillages or small traces of blood, semen or other bodily fluids. This is partially because HIV dies quickly once exposed to the air, and also because spilled fluids would have to get into a persons bloodstream to infect them.



Friday, September 11, 2015

Changes to our Non-profit

Letter from Jake detailing recent changes to our non-profit formerly known as Kingdom Cares International...

Families and Supporters:

For those of you not familiar with the current structure of our organization I will try to lay it out in as few words as possible.  In 2009 we developed the non-profit organization called Kingdom Cares International to help support our work in Ghana, Africa.  In 2012 we also merged Kingdom Hoops/Iowa Gym Rats into the non-profit entity of Kingdom Cares International.  At the time this was the right decision as it gave us the ability to get into our local Kingdom Courts facility.  Over the past 3 years Kingdom Hoops/Iowa Gym Rats and International Missions operated out of two separate bank accounts with two separate budgets.  However, as both organizations grew over these last three years, the importance of raising funds for both entities also developed.  Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that it is in the best long term interest of both operations - local and international - to become two separate non-profit organizations.  Organizationally nothing will change with Kingdom Hoops and Iowa Gym Rats, however, moving forward all our international work will begin to operate under the name Acts 2 Collective.  We understand that this transition of our international work may cause some initial confusion as we rebrand the name.  However, we believe in the long run that the benefit of operating independently from Kingdom Hoops and Iowa Gym Rats far out weighs any immediate problems with rebranding.

The other reason I felt the need for change was that I felt God had laid it on my heart to begin to unite mission-minded individuals and organizations who want to see the Word of the Gospel spread amongst the nations.  About nine months ago a group of us began to meet monthly to encourage each other and to help meet each other's needs whenever possible.  The organizations involved in this group were myself and my wife who have led the charge into Ghana, Africa and Chad, Africa, as well as The Move Project (, Agrihope (, and The Jonathan House (  Outside of the organizations represented we were also accompanied with a group of other believers who have a calling to world missions.  These meetings spurred us on to some amazing partnerships and to the ultimate formation of Acts 2 Collective.
As we began to meet we began to see the power that Christ has created in us when we work together.  For example in early August 2015 Agrihope moved one of their locally trained Zambians from Zambia to Ghana to our KCI Mission Campus (home of our children's center and school).  The goal is for him to help develop agriculture on our campus and to move us towards our goal of being 100% self-sufficient by 2024.  On another occasion one of the group members invited a young girl named Azlyn to the group as they felt as though she had a calling to long term missions.  She thought she was coming to the group to learn more about Ghana.  Instead she got connected with the Jonathan House and as I write this email she has traveled to Central Africa Republic to begin a long term mission experience there.  I could write countless other stories about how God is working in bringing like-minded individuals together (you can read another one HERE written by one of our A2C board members).  We believe that the Gospel was never intended for individuals to all be running alone doing their own things.  Instead we believe the Gospel should unite us as it did in the early church that is written about in the book of Acts.  We believe that together we can have a greater impact for the spread of the Gospel, and this will always remain the primary purpose of Acts 2 Collective.

We are very excited about what the future holds and what God is doing on the international mission field.  I hope each of you  can take some time to visit our new website at  If any of you have an interest in getting more involved with missions or with Acts 2 Collective please feel free to reach out to me or to our international missions director Ashley Caycedo –  For those of you that have been generously giving to our international programs in the past through Kingdom Cares International and the 1200 Club, we appreciate your continued support as this transition takes place.

In Christ,
Jake Sullivan
President of Acts 2 Collective
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