On December 26, I finished my tenth year of full-time ministry at World Orphans. These ten years have been an incredible gift. I have traveled to 28 countries, met with hundred of pastors, visited churches on five continents, and bent down to look into the faces of thousands of children. I have experienced different cultures, customs, foods, and traditions. I have seen places, people, and things I would never have imagined. I have laughed, wept, studied, learned, taught, struggled, been amazed, been heartbroken, wondered, rejoiced, and prayed. I have lived a truly amazing adventure!

A decade is a long time; the church and our world have changed much. As I look back, I find myself reflecting on all that has happened–the lives that have been transformed, the children that have been served, the churches that have engaged, and how all of this has shaped me. I have to pinch myself. Has it really been ten years?

As I reflect, I’m most thankful for the relationships. I’ve met amazing people all over this world, and I am a better man because of who they are and the way they have loved me.

More than ever, I believe in the church. She is far from perfect–full of forgiven sinners just like me–but she is the Bride of Christ. She is beautiful, both in spite of and because of her people, and she continues to faithfully stand in the gap, loving and caring for the lost and hurting in her midst.

I may have grown the most in my love for and commitment to families. From the earliest days in the Garden of Eden, God created family. Adam and Eve were created to live in perfect harmony and relationship with their Father, but then sin and death entered our world.

But family is still God’s design; it is spiritually modeled for us in Scripture, as we are adopted into God’s family by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are sealed forever as his children in his family by the Spirit.

Social science and scripture both speak volumes about the need for a child to be raised in a family. At its best, a loving family nurturing and shepherding the heart of a child is a beautiful display of grace. Oh, if only all families were loving and nurturing. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, much like with Adam and Eve in the garden. But God didn’t give up on the first family, and He hasn’t given up on us. He is calling us back, one by one.

And so it is with World Orphans. We are committed to families–to seeing children raised in families. We are committed to strengthening families–to helping families grow in their relationships with one another. We are committed to seeing families become more loving and nurturing–to encouraging and lifting up families.

This brings us back to the church. Who better to mentor and disciple families than the local church? Who better to strengthen families than the local church? Who better to display the love of Christ by caring for the vulnerable–the orphan, the widow, the refugee–than the local church? The local church is truly and practically the hands and feet of Christ. As we come alongside churches, we have a far greater impact on families in need of strength and stability.

I look forward, with much anticipation, to what the Lord has in store for World Orphans in the next ten years, and I am honored to play my part. The list of people I need to thank for their encouragement, prayers, and support is much too long to include here, but I must thank my own family. Trevor, Charlotte, Norah, Jozie, and my amazing wife, Debbie–I could not do this without you! We are on an incredible journey, and it has only just begun. I must also thank our World Orphans staff and Board of Directors–those who serve with me–for seeking God’s heart for World Orphans, for themselves, and for the good of others . . . until they all have homes.