In 2004, we traveled to Ecuador with our two oldest children to participate in a gospel-based humanitarian relief project – serving warm Christmas meals to children living in the dumps of Quito, the country’s capital city. It was a life-changing experience for all of us.
At the end of our trip, we met a newborn boy who had been discarded on the outskirts of the dump, naked and in a plastic trash bag. According to the police report, he was found by a carpenter and taken by a police officer named Edison to the steps of an orphanage that cared for children with special needs. That place was called For His Children, where we met that baby on the last day of our stay there. He had Down syndrome and needed special heart surgery. He won our hearts and we labored for five years, with the help of God and many others, to adopt him as our 11th child.
Our son’s name is Edison, in honor of the police officer who carried him to safety. You might know of him as “Eddie.” For those of you who are part of the MJM community, perhaps you’ve seen him at Camp Jubilee. Or perhaps you’ve spotted his picture on the side of the new MJM van. Or maybe you’ve seen the video about his adoption on Youtube, which now has more than 3 million views!
Since Eddie came to live with us in 2009, we’ve learned a lot. One main lesson is this: that when we pour out ourselves in the service of God and others, it will come back ‘round to us as a blessing. We thought we were adopting Edison to help him; in time, we came to see that God was sending Eddie to help us!
As we have witnessed his beautiful life unfolding, Mount Jubilee Ministries has created many highlight experiences. Camp Jubilee has been Eddie’s favorite week of summer for many years running now. The Day Programming experience has helped grow him from boyhood to manhood. And now a new adventure with MJM has begun.
Several months ago, we were given an opportunity to purchase a 15-acre parcel of land adjacent to our homestead. We donated the land to the 501(c)3 non-profit ministry our family had begun in 2011, which is now called Magnalia Homestead Foundation.
At the same time, in God’s providence, we began talking to Cecil Cottrell at MJM about the impact of “agri-therapy” in the lives of children and adults with special needs. We laid out a vision to build “The Jubilee Barn,” designed to facilitate interactions between MJM Day Programming participants and the farm’s livestock and plants. The Jubilee Barn is being designed with special activity centers to support this vision: the blueprints include feeding and petting stalls, meeting rooms, canning rooms, a pottery-making station, and more. Here’s a picture of what we’re working towards:
Week after week, Cecil (and others) have volunteered time to help clear the land and prepare for the barn-building to begin. Our goal is to have The Jubilee Barn and supporting pastures and gardens ready for MJM Day Programming guests in the Fall of this year. The location, in Stokesdale, provides ideal access for people being served by MJM in Reidsville as well as the prospective new Day Programming cohorts in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.
All this, to us, has been a reminder of what it is to experience the goodness of God as we receive His steadfast loving kindness, and then commit to sharing it with others. Jesus taught us that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” If we test it, we find that it is true.
Thanks to all of you who are part of the Mount Jubilee Ministries family. You inspire families like ours to stay the course and to “pay the blessings forward” in a world that is broken and, for so many, without hope.
And thanks to all the rest of you who have helped us to join together with our friends at MJM to bring The Jubilee Barn to life. We are grateful to be laboring alongside you and expect that God will use this special place to bring healing and joy, in the name of Christ, to many people for many decades to come.
We are grateful to be alongside you!