One of the things I love most about our church is the emphasis that every member is on mission, both across the globe and right in our own backyards. Each Sunday in October we have been exposed to many different ways to partner, support, and get our hands dirty reaching out and loving others to Christ. Many of us have plugged into some form of missions either locally or globally, but few have had the opportunity to actually live life on mission both in America and another country. That’s what made my conversation with CRBC member Kendra Crabtree so enlightening, as we talked about her family's experience of moving to Ethiopia and the social business the Lord led them to start.
Kendra and her husband, Tommy, had been serving in our church and involved in their community in many ways when the Lord threw them a curveball. Tommy owns a home-building company and Kendra has done many fun projects over the years using her creativity, gift of hospitality and business degree. She and Tommy had been on short-term mission trips, worked with children at Council Road, and even adopted their son from Ethiopia.
After adopting, they had returned to Ethiopia twice on short-term mission trips. It was when returning home from the second trip God planted a seed in Tommy’s heart that they should pray about moving there. It seemed that God was calling them to move their family to Ethiopia for a couple of years... but what would they do? Where would they work? The questions were unanswered for almost two years as each avenue they pursued was a dead-end.
In a last-ditch effort to gain clarity, the Crabtrees, along with Pastor Rick and his wife Teri took a trip to Ethiopia to gain vision and understanding for what God might have for the Crabtrees there. On the last day of a trip consisting of mostly no good leads, they had coffee with a man who ended up being the answer to getting their family overseas. As Kendra describes the way it unfolded, it is evident that God planned the details of that day to lead them to housing and a move across the globe.
Once there, you might think their mission was crystal clear, yet again they were met with more “nos” than “yeses.” It took almost eight months, but after connecting with some local businesses and building relationships, they stepped out in faith to start a socially-conscious business called Harvest Ethiopia. Harvest employs Ethiopian women to create beautiful purses, textiles, and jewelry while paying a fair wage so the women can support their families and earn an education. The Crabtrees have recently moved back to Oklahoma, but Harvest Ethiopia flourishes even in their absence – which helps realize their goal for the company to become self-sustaining. They have a trusted Ethiopian friend who runs the company from there, while both Tommy and Kendra travel back and forth during the year for upkeep and future planning.
As Kendra talked with me about her experience both in Ethiopia and here, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities and differences of living a missional life. No matter where we live, women tend to get involved in the lives of those around us – from other moms in the neighborhood or at our kids’ schools, to a gal in line behind us at Target, we have a desire to connect. However, in contrast, I was struck by how the community focus in other cultures allows them to live in closer contact, in deeper community. In our often over-scheduled American days, even the best intentions to have someone over or carve out time to get to know our neighbors get pushed to the back burner. I feel challenged to take a look at my calendar and the relationships around me and ask the Lord who is He calling me to reach out to.
Click the podcast link to listen:
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to the entire conversation with Kendra, using the link above. I know you’ll be encouraged by her story and the ways God made it abundantly clear what He was calling her to...but not right away and not with a nice-and-neat bow on top (which I think is a good reminder in our quest for quick answers). Enjoy the conversation, then stop by the Missions Market at Council Road Baptist Church to purchase some Harvest Ethiopia products. Proceeds will benefit the Karis Adoption Fund!
Meet the Author!
Heather McAnear is a wife, mom, author and speaker with a passion for sharing God's truth to help women understand their uniquely beautiful design and how to use it for God's glory! In fact, Heather hosts the Uniquely Beautiful Stories podcast on iTunes in hopes do just that! She loves teaching young married couples with her husband, homeschooling their three children, traveling the world, enjoying good chocolate and long conversations in coffee shops. CRBC has been her church home for two decades and she is thrilled to be part of the Women's Ministry team, helping women connect with each other and grow in their walk with Jesus!