"Moving to the U.K." doesn't come close to describing what is about to happen in the lives of the Stafford family, but it does state, in the simplest of terms, what God started in the desires of my wife's heart over 30 years ago. As a first blog post, and introduction to Stafford Ministries, I'd like to share a wee bit about the family behind the beginnings of this ministry and the hope He has called us to.
My name is Stephen Stafford. My wife (Kim) and I grew up in Durham, NC no more than 30 miles apart; separated by school systems that would one day bring us together. My introduction to this beautiful, sweet, faithful woman came through a good friend at the age of 15. Within our first year of dating, she would go on a trip with 3 friends to the U.K. that started a hope in her heart that one day she would live among the rolling, green hills of this beautiful country. It was almost 20 years later before her slow husband took up the cross and began to run with a vision she knew was meant to be before he ever saw what was coming. After being set free from a life of addictions by the powerful, loving grace of God, my wife encouraged me to attend a U.K. mission trip meeting that I had no desire to go to.
You see.... I'm a family man. I love my parents, my large family of 8 brothers and sisters and our growing league of spouses, nieces and nephews; most of which, lived in North Carolina. Why would I be interested in moving miles and miles across what the Brits like to call "a pond"? A pond?! The Atlantic Ocean is no pond. It's a wide, deep abyss of salty ocean water that I had no interest in crossing.
At the same time the mission trip was being planned, I was seeking the Lord with all my heart for what He wanted me to do. After a long career in Information Technology, I wanted a deeper purpose. I wanted to serve the Lord in whatever way He would use me. I went through a 28 day fast seeking His will and it wasn't long after that where I ended up in a small meeting one night with an evangelist that traveled all over the world. At the end of that meeting he called me up and told me I would be going somewhere in 3 months and I would know what God wanted me to do. As it happened, 3 months later I landed in England and I haven't looked back. I have found, as you delight yourself in the Lord, God gives you the desire to want the same thing He wants for you (Psalm 37:4). There is great purpose in this, because when you want something, it makes it easier for you to stand in faith to get it.
That was in October of 2009, and so much has happened since that fateful day. We have had times of disappointment and heartache in our journey that caused me to ask God to take the overwhelming desire to go away from me. I questioned what I heard, saw and felt in all God had shown me. However, I have learned that God does not miss the right time and the right place for a hope He puts in our heart. Faith without hope is dead. Hope is the first thing God gives us. It's our rope that gives us the strength to pull ourselves through faith, to an expected end. If we give up on the hope and vision God gives us, we may never see the end from the beginning.
Just recently I have been offered a ministry position in the U.K. The purpose of Stafford Ministries is to help support my family as we move and minister there. The support will not only help us move and live in the U.K., but will be used to support our own ministry in whatever God calls us to as He leads us.
We are looking for people to partner with our family and I in faith. As I shared above, faith starts with a hope and a desire. God gives us the desires of our heart. If God gives you a desire to help us, I prayerfully ask for your support. If you have questions about this ministry, please feel free to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will reply as soon as time allows.
We anticipate moving around the later part of September, which is only a few weeks away. God has already made a way for a home for us in Cannock, England and a school for our 2 boys. We will be bringing mostly personal items and clothes, but will be needing a car and other basic household items like furniture, mattresses and kitchen supplies. Your donations and prayers will help us to get settled quickly.
Our daughter will be staying in Colorado Springs and we ask you join us in prayer over her protection and provision here. God has already provided a home for her here as she continues to work and start college. The hardest part of this journey will be moving away from our sweet girl. This is a time of great change for us all, but one that we are very excited about. After traveling a second time to the U.K on another mission trip in 2013 and meeting a number of wonderful people there, I find that what I used to see as a vast ocean with depths and lengths I had no desire to cross has become the small pond uniting my heart with people on both sides.