We wanted to tell you a little more about our story and how we arrived at this point in our journey…
AUSTIN “For me it started in college where, while majoring in Global Studies, I quickly became fascinated with culture and the world we live in. I also became aware of poverty and its implications on individuals and communities. That this injustice could exist in our modern world bothered me. James 1:27 says, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ My reasoning was simple and my conviction strong; if the God I claim to follow and serve cares about this, then I must obey and ‘look after those in distress.’ I was not sure what God’s plan was for this desire to obey but I was willing. This willingness took me to Amsterdam, Netherlands following graduation where I volunteered at a Christian youth hostel and ministered to backpackers and the city’s transient population. It was during this time that I met a beautiful and passionate woman named Martha (yup my wife Martha) who shared my interest in people and poverty. This opportunity in Amsterdam affirmed in me a desire to work closely with international people, especially those that are experiencing some kind of hardship and difficulty. Upon returning to the U.S. and moving to Seattle, God provided me the opportunity to intern at a large non-profit organization for six months. This experience gave me an in depth and ‘behind the scenes’ look at what it takes to run quality programs and partner with others in pursuit of alleviating poverty. For those of you who know me, you know I am not a ‘cubicle kind of guy.’ But wow, I learned a ton and realized that working with the poor was something I wanted to be involved with long term.”
MARTHA “My journey began growing up in the Philippines. Being there planted in me an interest in living among different cultures and gave me a heart for the poor. I also had an interest in art, which brought me back to the US to study graphic design in college. Upon graduation I had envisioned myself working in a design firm. Instead, I had the opportunity to take part in an intercultural studies internship traveling through Europe and Africa gaining exposure to different cultures and ministries. Another formative experience was the time I spent working at a youth hostel in Amsterdam. Here I built relationships with travelers and used graphic design to assist with marketing. Through these opportunities, I saw my passions for art, culture, and people come together. It became clear that I wanted to continue being involved in creative communication, learning from other cultures, and participating in the transformation of people’s lives both physically and spiritually. I was also sure that I wanted to spend the rest of life’s adventures and challenges alongside Austin (who I had met in Amsterdam). And just as I believe God led us together, he has led us to this opportunity with World Concern that allows me to use each of these passions.”
Following our wedding, Martha and I began looking for opportunities to serve together abroad. Some things clearly became closed doors. However we were patient, knowing that God had placed this desire on our hearts for a specific purpose. This became clear as soon as we began having conversations with the people at World Concern. We discovered that they, like us, are truly and passionately committed to serving the poor. God has been preparing us for this position with World Concern, and we are humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside the Haitian people.
Our vision is that Haitians will experience freedom from oppression and be given the opportunity to live life in all its’ fullness–physically, relationally, and spiritually. As Christ said himself in the Gospel of John, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” What a beautiful promise. This is what we desire for the people of Haiti and what we believe is possible. Help us fulfill this vision.