#BeEpic March 2013 in Uganda

February 14, 2013

After many meetings, planning sessions and fundraising we are gearing up with our team of 12 to head out to Tororo, Uganda and work hand in hand with Smile Africa. It is really interesting to watch how God handpicks each person for missions and how intentional He is about who He places on each team. This team has so many gifts and some are returning to Africa, some our part of the BFR crew and others are joining for the first time. Each team member brings something unique to this mission-leadership, compassion, gentleness, intellect, counsel, efficiency, strength, humor, creativity- the list could go on. While on mission, we will be working with an organization called Smile Africa, that is dedicated to housing, feeding and caring for street kids. Smile also empowers widows and women, who come from an abusive past, and teaches them skill sets to survive and start over while helping to counsel their wounds. We will be working alongside Smile implementing our Be Well Program and educating the kids about their bodies, hygiene and how to respect themselves and each other. We will be offering counseling where needed and our help with various projects Smile has going on and praying for the Lord to lead us where He needs us. One of our inspiring board members wrote in our mission journal the difference between serving and volunteering and how it is entirely possible to volunteer but not serve. He wrote, serving is all about attitude. It's about taking a backseat to someone else. It's about humility. It's about stepping out in faith and saying, Yes. It's believing in the broken. It's about believing in each other. It's about what this team is called to do. We only get a short time to live this life, so why waste it? Be the Mission. BE EPIC. Now... Let's meet the team!     Britney Lee Christie, co-founder I am co-founder of Be Free Rev and live in Oakland, TN with my wonderful husband Michael and two sweet kiddos, Lynlee and Everhett.  Starting BFR was a simple choice for me because mission work has been a calling in my life for quite sometime. I am very excited about this mission as well as this team.  This is a team jam packed with leaders and visionaries that have SO much to offer SMILE.  I am excited to see how God is leading this group and the projects that we are going to be walking along side the leaders of SMILE Africa.  Vision casting and planning are both aspects of mission that I love so I cannot wait to be on the field.             Lacey Pease Stluka, co-founder I am from Memphis, TN and Co-Founder of Be Free Rev. The Lord’s calling for me was simple, “Go..” I have not looked back since. I ask myself all the time why God thought us worthy of such a huge calling in life but I thank Him everyday for believing in us and instilling the courage to stop at nothing to achieve it. I am very blessed to be able to travel back to Uganda and with such an incredible team that is bursting with extraordinary gifts. Uganda is such a special place and I am excited for the team to meet all the little faces of Smile Africa and watch them touch and change each others hearts. My favorite part of mission work is watching God burst out of team members as they act as His hands and feet and see how their hearts and faith shift. It is something so powerful and peaceful at the same time. I am excited to journey with my partner, great friends, old friends, Kenyan friend, and my wonderful husband on this adventure to Uganda!   Mary Shelton, team leader I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Married the love of my life, Brooks Monaghan, 1 month ago! God placed a unique opportunity in my life to join with bfr and travel across the globe yet again. For a girl who has never moved away from home, I am taking a leap of faith and leading a team alongside Britney Christie and Lacey Stluka to Uganda, Africa.  My passion is helping, supporting, and connecting with others, which lead me into my career of teaching. My heart is overwhelmed with joy to have the opportunity to share my love with those that don’t know love otherwise. On this journey I hope to grow as a leader, and help share with this team an unforgettable experience. The day cannot come soon enough to be back in Africa! Edward Njuki I joined BFR In 2012 as International Finance Manager. Am a Kenyan citizen living in its capital city Nairobi, where I work with the young people and the less fortunate in my community in different capacities. My calling is to serve the people of God with teaching being a strong ministry. Am also called to be a faithful steward of resources that God has intended to be used for the less fortunate to spread the word of God. My passion is to see every coin in my custody is used for its intended purpose and that it reaches where it is supposed to be used. This will be my first full time mission trip with BFR and am so excited to be in this team and look forward to a fulfilling and fruitful time in the mission field, working with great missioners who are known personally to me and also some who will be making this trip for the first time. I am glad to serve on this mission as I will be having hands on experience on what international ministry is all about. Am going on this mission as a great friend and family member of the BFR family.     Adam Stluka I’m a small town Missourian that has lived in Tennessee for the past 7 years.  I currently negotiate corporate hotel contracts for a company here in Memphis. From a young age I have always felt God’s hand directing me to help the unfortunate and given the ability to listen and encourage others.  I believe that we as every day people let “things” fill our lives and thoughts to where we don’t allow ourselves to fully concentrate on Christ and what He has done and will do.  In Africa, especially, it’s amazing to view this image daily and feel the Holy Spirit on a continual basis.  This feeling is what I long for and the reason I feel the call to return to Africa.           Mary and Nick Wirwa We have lived in St Francisville, LA for almost 2 years now.  I am a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Mary Helen is a co-owner of AdiBelle Boutique. We have always been called to serve God through missions work, both locally and abroad.  Africa has always been on our heart.  Through AdiBelle Boutique, we have connected with Be Free Revolution. We are so excited about the trip and being able to broaden our minds of greater things in this world as well as getting the opportunity to share Christ’s LOVE!         Craig Thompson
51, Graphic Designer and Documentary Photographer
Owner of Disciple Design, a faith-based graphic design firm in Memphis, Tennessee
Have worked with Britney and Lacey on Be Free materials and anxious to go into the field with them.
Passionate about missions, especially discovering and documenting the people God brings to me along the journey.
Been going on trips as God allows for the last 16 years.
             
Lauren Noelker
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor from Memphis, TN. I currently work at Youth Villages as a Clinical Consultant. I have always had a desire to help others, and love the work that I do with troubled youth and their families. While challenging, it is also incredibly rewarding. I have felt God calling me to continue helping others through mission work for some time now, though I have always been very fearful. I was so excited and proud to hear that my childhood friend, Lacey, co-founded this wonderful organization. I immediately reached out to let her know I would love to be a part of what they are doing. The support that I have received for this journey has been overwhelming, and has affirmed for me that this is what God is calling me to do. I am very excited for this experience and cannot wait to see what His plans are for me in Africa. I am also grateful to be sharing this experience with wonderful friends from my childhood.
   
Michelle Pashby
My name is Michelle Pashby and I am 29 years old, from Memphis TN where I live with my wonderful husband Jeremy. We have been blessed with 2 awesome kids, Mikayla and Jaxson. I work part time as a dental assistant with Brink pediatric dental associates.
 I am overjoyed with a feeling that God has placed on my heart about serving on this mission trip in Uganda. I have a heart for the people there already and we have never even met!
I felt God's calling about a year ago. I knew He wanted me to serve in the mission field, I just wasn't sure where. Through prayer, he led me to the email of an old friend and from there He used her to show me that Be Free was where He wanted me! I am so excited to see God move and work!
 
Kelsey Pope
I was born and raised in Memphis, TN but now living in the rural town of Columbia, KY.  I am currently an intern counselor and Women's Studies graduate assistant.  In May, I will finish my master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and will begin working in this field, specifically with children and teenagers.  I am very passionate about helping others overcome adversities, fulfill their potential, and discover their purpose in life.
God has blessed me abundantly in my 24 years! He has called me at an early age to give back in the same way I've been given by reaching out and serving others.  Uganda is a country that has been on my heart and in my prayers for the past eight years when I began sponsoring a child there.  I felt so blessed when God presented me with this opportunity to travel and serve in this beloved country.  I am faithful that great results will occur as God matches the gifts and passions of those in our group with the needs of the people we will encounter.  I look forward to serving alongside a team of inspiring people and sharing God's love with the people of Uganda!
        Jennifer Hill
I was born in Arkansas, a child in Alabama, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee when I was 9 yrs old...a southern girl in all forms. I went to the University of Tennessee at the Memphis Medical Center where I got my degree in physical therapy. I currently work as a case manager in a social services field at Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital. I've always been the girl that wants to provide a listening ear, and help people in any way that I can. I am so fortunate that the last 5 yrs of my life, I have worked in a place where I can thrive in doing just that and can truly say I love going to work everyday.
I have an incredible family that has always supported my decisions and dreams, and my "talk of Africa" was no different. Between my family, friends and coworkers, the decision to go was non negotiable. I've always wanted to serve, but never really thought of a certain group of people or area of the world that I wanted to focus on. I am so honored and blessed to have the chance to stand alongside some new friends in my upcoming Uganda trip and hope that I can be of service to these amazing people. I am eager to see how I will be changed by this opportunity.