Do you ever get asked the question, “What have you been up to lately?” Whether it is someone who is genuinely interested or just a person making conversation, it opens a door for us to describe how we have been spending our time. This article is a look back at our first year serving with Rooftop Missions. In short, I want to share with you what I have been up to in 2015.
Exactly one year ago today, Anna & I sat down with Matt & Lana Cretzman in the Dominican Republic and seriously discussed God leading us to join the Rooftop team. A strong combination of faith and stupidity allowed us to make the leap into missions without any plans for deputation or a salary. I am excited to say that God delivered just what we needed every single month in 2015. Sometimes it was very tight, but each week we saw our needs met right on God’s time.
In spite of the tight budget, we were able to be part of more than I ever dreamed possible.
To save you from a ton of reading, I had this nifty infographic designed to show you an overview of my highlights in 2015. (If you like reading, I’ve included an extended overview in written form underneath the infographic – so hang tight.)
January: Dominican Republic
Anna and I went to the Dominican Republic and were able to spend some much needed time with Matt and Lana. This trip allowed us to plan for the crazy year that was ahead. (If you haven’t realized it yet, Matt and I are way overrated. Lana and Anna are amazing wives, moms and leaders. They are the real foundation that God put in place to allow so much of this to be possible.)
Matt, Eric Skwarczynski and I headed to Cuba for the first of 3 trips to the island in 2015. We were able to be part of a pastor’s conference and make some key connections that opened some amazing doors later in the year. This trip also allowed us to capture much of the media that Eric used on social media the rest of the year.
April: Dominican Republic
It was back to the Dominican Republic again in April but I had to leave my wife at home this time. On the plus side, without Anna there shopping, the cost of this trip was cut by 90%. I look back on this time in the DR and see just how much it laid the groundwork for the rest of the year. We were able to spend time with a pastor we fund and really get a strong perspective on how we can best serve our national pastors in the DR, India and Cuba. This trip was also instrumental in igniting a passion to help abandoned orphans with our ministry. Just a few hours of kicking a flat soccer ball with some Haitian orphans ended up shaping a new part of Rooftop. Because of this simple day, we saw our funding for orphans increase by over $1,500 a month.
This was our big trip of the year. We took a team of 7 from the U.S. and met up with 2 more friends from Singapore. Our schedule was absolutely crazy but so were the amazing things that we were able to see God accomplish during these 3 weeks. As we travelled from large cities to rural villages, we were able to train pastors that God is using to reach people we could never reach. After spending time with these pastors, I had a better understating of Pastor Jack Cox’s love for India and the precious people that live there.
One week of this trip was spent at our orphanage, the Azlynn Noelle Children’s Home. I think most of us were prepared for what it would be like to meet the orphans, but we sure weren’t prepared for the impact that spending a week with them would have on our lives. I could write for hours about the children we grew to love that week. They are now in our daily thoughts and I pray that will never change. Please visit www.azlynnnoelle.com sometime and meet these precious kiddos for yourself. We are currently arranging for one of the orphans
to join our family here in the states. Please pray for us as we take the steps necessary to make this happen.
Alec (our Awesome Intern) and I made this trip by ourselves. I had been asked to speak at a teen conference and Alec was just along for the experience. He had never been to Cuba and couldn’t wait to see how it compares to where he grew up in the Dominican Republic. We had not been on the ground long when I realized that Alec was Rooftop’s most valuable asset on this trip. While the DR and Cuba are vastly different, Alec was right at home speaking Spanish and understanding the culture. He ended up translating for me when I spoke and also taught many lessons by himself that week. I loved seeing God take a 17 year old kid and use him in mighty ways. This trip also gave us our first glimpses of the changes that were headed to the island.
I had a cell phone signal when we landed in Havana. I was in shock. Downtown Havana was now filled with people staring at their cell phones…it looked eerily similar to America. In just a few short months, I had watched as Cuba transformed before our eyes. Many of these changes are not noticeable from the states, but it impacted the plans of Rooftop enormously. In terms of what we had planned, the changes meant God had opened doors that we didn’t even think we’re possible. It is a long story, but this trip allowed us to set the foundation for a Bible college right there on the island. This is an ongoing project that you will definitely be hearing more about in 2016.
This trip was such an awesome experience. The previous few months, Eric had been working tirelessly on setting up a giving system where people could sponsor children in ANCH. We announced the new website and within 30 days saw all 70 of the children get sponsored. Over 33 families in my home church (Auburn Baptist) made the decision to sponsor a child. We had prayed for all of the children to be sponsored by Christmas and God allowed it to happen thanks to many of you guys. Matt and I went over to India and celebrated, “Christmas at the Orphanage” for the first time. We were able to not only tell each kid that there is a family out there that loves them, we were also able to buy PRESENTS!!! The kids had a blast and so did we. This event is going to be huge next year and I hope you will consider being part of it.
My daily life with Rooftop revolves around dollars, numbers, travel plans, marketing ideas and process improvement but my job is so much more than all of those things combined. The reason I travel so much and work so hard is because we have seen the end result. Watching a pastor receive the training and funding that he needs in order to keep spreading the Gospel is an experience like no other. Being able to take custody of 2 young sisters with HIV when no one else wants them is why the dollars in the budget really matter.
Rooftop is an imperfect organization ran by really imperfect leaders. The people that we seek to serve are not perfect, our friends that go on trips with us are not perfect and the churches and Christians that support us are not perfect. That being said, we are very thankful to serve a loving and PERFECT God. In spite of the many ways we fail Him everyday, He has allowed our donors and the ministries we fund to reach some amazing milestones in just one year.
2016 has already started and so have many of the crazy ideas, trips and projects God has led us to start. I hope that you will continue to pray for us as we seek to spread the Gospel to the persecuted and unreached. I ask you to consider joining us on a trip one day so that you can experience for yourself the amazing things that God is doing all across the world. I beg you to think about what role God would have you play when it comes to the orphan crisis facing our world today. God has a place for each of us to serve Him, He is just waiting on us to respond to the opportunities He has already placed in front of us.
Andrew Smith is an Executive Coach and Leadership speaker with the John Maxwell Team, as well as the Assistant Director of Rooftop Missions, an organization that seeks to train leaders internationally, as well as care for orphans through the ministry of the Azlynn Noelle Children’s Home.
Smith served as an Infantry soldier with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division from 2002-2005. Wounded in Fallujah, Iraq in 2003 by shrapnel from an IED, he is the recipient of the Purple Heart.
Because of his military experience, he now assists as a mentor with Honor & Courage (Operation Ward 57), a non-profit organization that financially assists Wounded Warriors and their families.
He has also owns and operates a small business -Yellow Dawg Striping – in Southwest Virginia.