Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Information Letter One

To tell our friends and family the details of what is going on in our lives we wrote two letters and used regular mail to send them out. This is a copy of the first letter:

Dear Friends,
I want to tell you how God has changed our lives dramatically these past few years. It was a bit of a rocky start for Ryan and I after our move from Missouri to Michigan. First, we unexpectedly remodeled the kitchen and bathroom of our house due to water damage; not fun while pregnant! Happily, Anna Kathryn was born healthy on December 28th 2004. She is the image of her daddy, blond, tall, and mechanically inclined, our little Dutch girl.

We merrily raised our cherub until, in April of 2006, Ryan got the devastating news that his job at GM was eliminated. We saw this as an opportunity for change. After some talk we chose to list our house for sale. We prayed that if God wanted us out of Detroit He would sell it. The realtor told us it will take 4-6 months to sell, but it only took ten days, then, even better, we were able to stay in that home until August!

It was at this time that God started unveiling his plan to Ryan. He heard God say I want you in Chennai for one year. Ryan, not knowing of Chennai (which sounds like Shan-nigh) assumed China. We responded by giving our resumes to ISV an organization that places professionals in the m- field. Ryan also continued to apply to regular engineering jobs. It takes time (months) to communicate with overseas m-, and October surprised us that there was not a good fit in China. Still feeling a strong call to Asia we responded by asking if there was any opportunity for us. Meanwhile, Ryan did get job offers in the corporate world, but prayer revealed the answer was “My way or yours, it is your choice.” Turning down real job offers for the whisper promise of God is quite scary and took a lot of faith. The relief came in December, we were asked to come to Chennai India.

In Chennai there is a Micro bank - Growing Opportunity Finance, a part of the Opportunity International network. This Christ centered company is similar to other micro banks that make small loans and hold savings for people, usually women. Their usual source of funds is a loan shark charging 100% to 150% annual interest. Micro bank loans range from $50 to $250 and are paid back with interest, around 30% (a typical rate a wealthy person would be getting in India.) What is special about the OI network is that the borrowers meet weekly to pay back their loans and hear a short training session with topics in social, health, and business concerns, each with a Biblical foundation but practical importance.

Why India? We have learned that India is a strategic location to bringing people to Christ. Of the people groups, languages, tribes, etc in the world that have never heard of Jesus, and his saving work, 50% are found in India. India has a very mobile society; we are talking not only traveling to other countries, but also travel to the cities in India, where people work before returning home. A third, very strategic point, is that by nature Indian people love to share their lives and what is important to them, they are naturally outgoing!

We are amazed and humbled that God has singled us out and offered this opportunity to serve the poor of Chennai. A year ago we would have never thought of doing this; we were satisfied to be Bible study leaders at a church here in the USA. But we have confidence based on God’s promises that He would not ask us to do something that He would not empower us to do.

What exactly will we do in India? Primarily we will be using our experience and knowledge to coach the employees of the bank who interact with the clients. But we need to be flexible as we could be doing so much more. We are to be God’s hands where ever needed. God has given us the skills and hands to use.
We are excited about the journey the Lord has set before us, and are sending you this letter to invite you to join us. For now the best way to partner is through prayer. We are gathering the details about timing and finances at the moment and will send a second letter soon. Meanwhile we would love to hear from you! Not just your thoughts about what we are doing but we would love to know what is going on in your lives. Also we are spending the month of April contacting all who received this letter and hopefully seeing you too.
If you would like to contact us, you may start with email de 3120 voit at gmail dot com.

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