Ghana 2016

God is good. I have had the desire to give back in my heart for some time, but didn't know where Gods plan would lead me. Once Troy & Casie moved in next door, and not only got to know them as "Family", but the mission work they do with OSIF was where I knew God had intended. Amanda & I feel very blessed to be a part of the board and everything they do.

We all have a lot to accomplish until the day comes in September when we actually get on the plane to Ghana, but I fully trust in the Lord and know his hands are covering all of us to not only raise enough money for the trip, but preparing us all mentally for everything we are about to experience. I love you all, and am so glad and honored to be a part of this trip.


John Grosso

I will trust in you...

Short and sweet...[don't be shocked!]

Today marks 4 months and 2 weeks before we depart to Ghana, West Africa.  As we continue press deeper and deeper into Him, as we begin to kick off fundraising, finalize plans, and prepare our hearts and minds to is the time when the enemy will seek to derail us.

Today, a song was playing as I was working...God's little voice whispering to me through song...reminding me...don't forget...

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

I will trust in YOU!
I will trust in YOU!
I will trust in YOU!

Thanks for the reminder - (great song by Lauren Daigle)...

Ghana 2016

Going to Ghana in September still feels unreal to me. God has opened up doors to Africa that I thought would never be reopened. He is good though, and He knows the best plans to prosper me and give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Really this trip isn't about me at all, it is about the Father's heart for His people. I do however, for my first blog post ever, want to share with you my story of how and why God is calling me to Ghana this year! So hear goes nothing:)

Something the Holy Spirit has been whispering to me about for weeks now is that there is a difference between wanting people to know how much I love Jesus, versus how much I want others to know His love for them! I never want to make my love for Jesus more than His love for you and I! His love is what heals and changes everything! I want to obey the call Jesus has placed in my heart, and live it out not just in word but deed too!

For a few years now, excuses have plagued my mind to keep me back from walking in my destiny or calling to international missions. To make this post more brief I won't go into all the details, but basically 2 years ago I was called for the first time to go to Ghana, West Africa. After a couple of months preparing with the missions team, the trip ended up not going through, so I went to Spain instead (everyone who knows me, knows I love the Spanish language and all Spanish speaking cultures!). Going to Spain was another crazy story of God opening up a lot of doors quickly, and I met so many beautiful and amazing people there; nonetheless, the desire placed in my heart to travel, talk with, and love on people from different cultures and countries was not fully satisfied. I knew deep down in my heart that the Lord was calling me to go deeper with Him, and that Spain was not the end, but the beginning to something incredible. 

After Spain, I decided and had peace about not going on any more mission trips until I finished what the Lord had already placed before me...nursing school and getting a job! So by God's grace alone I accomplished that. Once I accomplished what I set out to accomplish, Holy Spirit kept speaking to me about missions and going on another trip, but life has been so busy, so I kept pushing it off. Well, this past December I had the privilege to go to the OneThing conference in Kansas City, Mossouri. The Lord encountered me in some really awesome ways, and for the first time in years He told me I would be a missionary again. There was even a crazy experience I had where I went to purchase a book at the bookstore, and when I went to pay, there was one book left by the register, and my eye caught a glimpse of it. The book was titled "The Fully Funded Missionary" by Rob Parker. The cashier saw me looking at it, and then she proceeded to tell me that the author was doing a book signing that very day, so I got to talk to him about missions as well! 

When I look back at all that God did to open doors and grab my attention (the story above was just one thing the Lord did), I can't believe I was still not fully believing God was calling me to full time missionary work in the future. 

This January I then went to an informational meeting for Susan Norris's ministry about sex trafficking at RiverStone church. That night changed everything for me. I know this sounds like it doesn't relate to the rest of my story, but I promise I'm getting there! Okay, so that night, as the meeting was coming to an end, they asked us to pray about how we feel led to support their non-profit, and so we listened to worship music and prayed. My mind could only focus on missions, and I couldn't even get one thought or prayer in about sex trafficking. So I started to pray about missions, and what I was supposed to do next. That is when the Holy Spirit told me to just admit it fully to myself that I will be a full time missionary. I completely surrendered, and said "okay God! Yes I will be a full time missionary." Instantly so much peace washed over my body. It was amazing.

I thought for the longest time I would go to South or Central America, then it was India, then the Middle East or part of the 10/40 window, and who knows, maybe I will one day! But Jesus set my eyes back to Africa again! So I decided to get in touch with my "Aunt and Uncle" Troy and Casie Haight. They are the leaders of this trip to Ghana, and the founders of One Step In Faith! I had already missed a couple of meetings for this trip to Ghana in September, and normally you can't miss more than one meeting to go on the trip. I knew I was coming in late, that they already had a team and plan, but I kept being prompted by the Holy Spirit to ask them if I could go to Ghana with them. Sure enough they excitedly said yes! Little did I know at the time that they had been praying for a 4th team member to go, and it ended up being me! I also, was able to get all the time off approved at work!

So I'm going to Ghana, West Africa in September with the non-profit One Step in Faith (OSIF). As a team we will get the opportunity to love on the children deemed "spirit children", who were rescued by OSIF, and the families taking care of these beautiful kids! It is such a blessing to know that these people are going to invite us into their homes, to eat, share stories, and just do everyday life with them. Like Casie mentioned in the first blog post, we aren't going to be heroes, we are going to share the Father's heart and Kingdom with them, and the foundation for that is love!

I don't know when or where I will be a full time missionary, because the Lord has me working as a full time nurse at Kennestone Hospital (and that is ministry work in itself) right now. So some specific prayer requests I have is to find clarity, peace, and direction while in Ghana to whether or not Ghana is the place I will be a full time missionary in, or Africa in general, or if God is leading me elsewhere. Also, what kind of full time missionary will I be? Will I live in the states, and go back and forth? Or will I live in another country? And does God want me to be more involved with OSIF on a more permanent basis? These are all questions through prayer and walking in faith while in Ghana, that I'm hoping to get revelation about. 

Please also be praying for our team and the people of Ghana to encounter the Lord in new ways, and that His love would abound in all we do! May God be glorified in our preparation, while in Ghana, and when we return! Jesus deserves all of our praise. He is a good good Father!! God bless you all!

With all my love,
Alicia Bowles:)

We're heading back!!!

Good afternoon, and welcome back to the blog.  What a year!  I won’t bore you with the details, and just jump right into it.  We are heading back to Ghana this September.  It will have been 2 years since our last visit.  This year, we are taking one of our board members, John Grosso, as well as our dear sweet Alicia Bowles.  It is hard to believe how time flies. 

Troy and I made our first trip in 2009, but truth is, sometimes it feels like yesterday.  Throughout the years, traveling to Ghana has just been a part of the ministry.  There are a lot of blessings by going, but with the blessings it is a lot of work and a lot to be aware of  - to be careful to avoid.  There are conflicting opinions regarding benefit or harm of short-term missions.  Do they do more harm than good?  We have learned and are constantly learning, how we prepare and how we go may matter more than what we do.

I was reading an article written by missionaries in Guatemala who shared common concerns and issues. These are some of their thoughts blended with my heart.

We are not the hero.  The families and communities we are called to work with in Ghana, do not need a short-term hero.  They need long-term partners.  One Step In Faith could not successfully follow God’s lead without the continued work and relationship building of our in-country cross cultural workers and in-country Star Throwers!  During our travel in Ghana this year, our main agenda is to continue the bridge of relationship building, as well as filling the cups of those who pour out day in-day out into the lives of the OSIF families and their communities.

We are poor too.  Poverty looks different than you expect.  There is material poverty, physical poverty, spiritual poverty, and systemic poverty.  Jesus called us to serve, but before we can expect to serve others we have to acknowledge our own brokenness and absolute need for none other than God.  It is too easy to enter into the lives of the families in Ghana and walk away feeling pity and remorse for their “poor” life.  However, if you release all your preconceived notions about these families, allow yourself to be fully present and in the moment, and truly build a relationship with the individuals – you begin to see them as creations of God, just like you.  In this, you can see in their eyes, poverty’s definition to them is not even the same as yours.  They carry such joy and love, despite a life lacking material items.  You might even find when you leave Ghana, you’ve learned a few things about finding joy in the simplicity of life.

Join them.  If planning work, don’t do all the work, invite the community to join you.  There is that old saying, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  This has huge merit, but beyond that, so often the work we go to do - the community already knows how to do.  This year we are planning on sponsoring a Hep B clinic.  Instead of bringing a team full of doctors and nurses, Dave and Ellen will coordinate with a local pharmacy to manage the entire clinic.  This is a significant component in relationship building, empowering and investing in the people to help themselves. 

You are an ambassador for your country.  With technology these days, regardless of circumstances, so often developing countries (including Ghana) have access to videos, movies, and social media views of USA.  Through these, they have already developed ideas of what life is like here.  It is your opportunity to debunk these likely incorrect assumptions.  I remember during our first trip in 2009, one of the house guards was sharing he believed every boy in the USA received a red convertible sports car when he turned 18.  Talk about incorrect assumptions.  It is extremely difficult to completely relate equally with others from another culture.  It requires they see you as equal, and I promise that can be nearly impossible.  But, when their belief is at 18 a boy is given his dreams – it is completely impossible.  We know this is not true, and through sharing our lives, being vulnerable, allowing the relationship building to be a two-way street, we reprogram misconceptions and build bridges that allow for long-term partnership for His kingdom. 

All of this was not to be discouraging, but to change the way we think of mission trips.  To change the purpose and benefit.  It costs a lot of money to travel to Ghana, stay the couple weeks, and support needs while in country.  A lot of money, many feel should be sent to the long-term missionaries to continue the long-term partnerships.  So, why do it?  In my humble opinion, there are so many!  I can tell you , if it wasn't for our first trip in 2009, we may not have listened to God's call for us to launch OSIF.  Without listing all the reasons -I'll list the most important.  It's simple.
Jesus called us to go.  Jesus himself left the Father to live among us.  So, go – leave the comfort of your home – and share your life.  Live with them, learn from them, eat what they eat, and when you return, be their voice to share their story.  SHARE what you’ve learned.  Share their names, their stories, about their lives and most importantly about the author - Jesus and all He is doing through His people.  It’s not all about the cute kid pictures (even if our kiddos are super adorable!)  Take one step in faith, one step at a time, and share your life with those who God calls you to serve – in Ghana or the ends of the earth.  For us, little by little, visit by visit, God has built an amazing love between both us and them AND them and us.  It is through this, we are learning from each other and share in the growth of God’s kingdom. 

One final thought I’ll share – Jesus called us ALL to go!  But, you do not have to fly to Ghana to join in His work.  Look out your window…it’s a big world out there and you can build relationships with those in your neighborhood, regulars at the local dog park, at your school (your children's school), at work, or even at the grocery store.  The thing to do is - pray for God to reveal His heart for the people around you ...and for Him to show you the least of these.  Then...Look them in the eye, Smile, and Begin a conversation (start with hello!).  It may change your life.

Love to you all!