Since starting this organization in 2006, there are many things we have prayed for. God has always proved himself faithful – time and time again. Being a parachurch organization, we always felt it very important to have spiritual and pastoral guidance on this path God laid before us. For those that don’t know much of our history as an organization, this ministry was birthed out of our then home church – Kensington Community Church. Being a church of 10,000 regular attendees that frequently challenges its members to go out and make a difference in the world, you can imagine how overwhelmed the staff must be with the amount of requests they get for the spiritual guidance that we were seeking. An army of pastors could never manage to embrace every invitation Kensington receives to partner with someone doing a really great thing to change the small corner of this world God has called him to. So with each trial we faced the next several years, we continued to pray that God would send us a pastor to provide the spiritual guidance we needed and a church to embrace this growing ministry.
I don’t remember when exactly, but sometime in early 2006 – before ESTHERS was officially incorporated – in our efforts to find a pastor that would be on our Board of Directors and provide the pastoral oversight we needed, a friend mentioned some guy by the name of Dan Kopp. He was a young, new pastor on staff at Kensington. Emily gave it much consideration and had every good intention of contacting Dan – he was the same age as her oldest daughter Tina and graduated from the same college as her. She thought, “Hey, maybe he knows Tina and that will be our foot in the door.” But for one reason or another, Emily never contacted Dan.
Now, fast-forward to 2012. Emily was introduced to a new church, The Eastside Vineyard Church, that was started by a pastor from Kensington – Dan Kopp. They had a strong interest in the fight to end human trafficking, so she started attending regularly when she was not in Brazil. Since the church started in 2010 they had been looking for an international ministry partner that they could support financially and send teams to work with each year. As they prayed for God to send them their partner, He sent them a cause to support instead – human trafficking. At that time this was still a pretty unpublicized injustice. After several failed attempts to get connected with a ministry partner through the Vineyard Church’s Missions Board they decided to at least find an organization that worked with human trafficking to financially support until they found the right organization to partner with. In November, on two separate days in the same week, Dan was approached by someone from his congregation who told him to consider partnering with ESTHERS. The same week, Emily felt led to invite him and his wife Kellie to be our guests at our Gala that Friday. Although a prior commitment didn’t allow Dan and Kellie to attend the Gala, he felt a nudge from God. He scheduled a meeting with Emily to learn more about ESTHERS and their work to prevent child prostitution and human trafficking – the very cause that God called his church to support.
After a few meetings, conversations and emails over the next several weeks, much prayer and thought by Dan, his team of leaders, Emily and others at ESTHERS, she and I found ourselves on stage at The Eastside Vineyard Church this past Sunday. We were invited to share about our ministry and an upcoming mission trip the church is organizing to work with ESTHERS in Brazil this June. This was a first answered prayer that we have prayed for the last 7 years – for a church to catch the vision of what we are doing, embrace us and send teams down once a year to work with our ministry in Brazil. In those few moments on stage I could almost tangibly feel God’s presence and see His hand weaving our two paths together. But that was only halfway up our “mountaintop experience”. When we finished sharing, Kellie presented us with a $1000 check and with it announced the church’s plan to officially partner with ESTHERS – to send teams down to work with us and support us financially. Now we had reached our mountaintop!
The generosity and philosophy on tithing at the Eastside Vineyard Church is something to be admired. They teach their congregation to be radically generous with what God has given them by financially supporting things that advance the Kingdom of God be it the church, a neighbor in need, a charity, etc. It is a defining principle of the church to tithe an annually increasing percentage of the tithes they receive to things that are advancing the kingdom of
God – in particular organizations or causes that are fighting to end human trafficking. As an organization, we practice a similar philosophy by tithing 10% of the money we raise at our Golf Outing and Gala each year to a local charity working with children in need through education.
If you are from The Eastside Vineyard and reading this – on behalf of Emily, myself and our entire organization – Thank You! We are humbled by your generosity, the way you have embraced us as a ministry partner, and look forward to how God will use this partnership to End Sex Trafficking for HER.
As I sit back and reflect on how God brought this partnership into existence, I am in awe. This seed, Dan Kopp, that God planted 7 years ago has come full-circle and is the pastor leading and directing our first church partnership – the first of many more to come.
God has always told us that it would be through church partnerships that we would get the necessary funding to carry ESTHERS to the next level as an organization. I believe that 2013 will be the year that God brings us into the promised land – the place He showed Emily He would lead us to when He spoke this ministry into existence on a hill in Brazil one sunny afternoon in 2001.