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The Story

We have been called. Our life is set-apart.

Ministry. Church Planting. Discipleship. The Journey of Purpose.

[ to birmingham ]

Sitting in a college sunday school class my freshman year (2000) at Samford University, the youth minister came in to make an announcement. He asked for some college students to volunteer to help lead Wednesday Night grade-divided Bible Studies beginning in January. The first week of January 2001, I began working with the youth of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.

I remained greatly involved in leading the youth of SMBC through the transition of youth ministers and programing changes. I took on girls' discipleship groups, helped with summer camps, and loved being involved in every aspect of this ministry.

Six months before I graduated from Samford University (Jan 2004), the Student Minister at SMBC asked me to come on board as the Student Ministry Assistant. At the time, I was very confused as to what God had in store because I was following my dreams of becoming a professional Graphic Designer in New York. I had no “ministry training,” but this church and staff were willing to teach and grow my knowledge of ministry. I gave the job offer much thought and prayer and decided I'd take the challenge on. This was nothing I'd planned, nothing I really even wanted to do, but I felt the Lord's hand upon this direction, so I went. The Youth Ministry staff poured time and energy into teaching me about ministry, giving me opportunities to plan and lead, and I was promoted to Student Ministry Associate (June 2007) where I led our Youth Discipleship Programs and was part of Ministerial Staff.



[ to ministry ]

June 21, 2008
Sitting on the floor of a church in Idaho (on a mission trip), I listened to recently graduated high school seniors give 3 minute talks about the lessons they'd learned through their years in the Student Ministry- growing in Christ. I was so proud! For one of the first times, I saw fruits of ministry. These students were getting 'the big picture' and I was encouraged.Then out of nowhere, I heard the Lord say, "It's worth it." I couldn't deny His voice or His call upon my life. Students that I'd poured time, energy and much love into stood before me in a new light. These students have taught me about sacrifice, love and God's faithfulness. God called me into full time ministry that night by the example and fruit pouring from the lives of some strong girls! After 8 long years of serving with this youth ministry, I firmly believe God was waiting on a few specific girls (Rachael, LEB, Riley) to teach me more about Him and what He has for my life.This phrase and God's words to me, "It's worth it!" will always be a very special milestone for me. No matter the time spent, the struggles made, or the pain endured, it's all worth it. I am to know Christ, make disciples and make Him known. I thank God for these moments in an unexpected place. That day changed my life and humbly showed me God's will for my future- to continue to pour into youth and make disciples.

[ to south africa ]

Coming back from a short-term mission trip to South Africa in September 2008, I knew my life was changed forever. I knew I wanted to return. I knew I wanted to try to come back and minister on short-term trips, but it was never in my plan to go for an extended stay. Little did I know God was using this experience to move my heart toward long-term missions.

After my short-term in South Africa, I constantly thought about the people I met, the things I saw, the love I had for the township of Capricorn. My view of ministry was different because of my time there. The way I prayed was different. The way I spent my money was different. The way I was moved by things of the Lord was different. My heart became tender to the things that broke His heart and my relationship with Christ was deeper and more personal because of my intentional time with Him.

Sunday, March 1, 2009:
The Global Impact Celebration (for missions) was happening at Shades Mountain Baptist Church. It was snowing outside... very unusual for March in Birmingham, Alabama! But that was just the icing on the cake of this day for me. Due to the snow, the scheduled GIC Sunday morning speaker could not fly into Birmingham. So, our pastor, Danny Wood took the podium and gave one of his best sermons ever. He spoke on Matthew 8:18, "... a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"
Just days before this Sunday, I'd told a friend that the reason I wouldn't go on the mission field right now was due to the fact that I'm the only family my grandparents and my dad have – I’m an only child, my mother passed away when I was 19, and I had to take care of them if needed. Pastor Danny began giving details of this passage- telling the church that the man that made this statement in scripture didn't have ailing family members, but this man just felt a responsibility to his family and wanted to be with them out of duty. Those words and the scripture hit me between the eyes. My very socially-acceptable excuse was not acceptable to the Lord. He was drawing me into His plan in a very clear way.

After conversations with my Pastor and a few families from my church that I dearly trust, God continued to provide the encouragement and guidance that I needed. My church sent me to the mission-field confidently and in full-support of what God was doing in my life and the direction I heard Him ask me to go. The mission was clear, and the support came in!

God has called me. His doors keep opening and opportunities continue to fall into my lap to continue to minister in South Africa! I'm following each lead and asking for His guidance with every step. I’ve been in South Africa, serving in Capricorn specifically, since January 2010. I view this call as a long-term one; community development and spiritual transformation are not a short-term project, but a long-term investment in people and the spreading of the Gospel!


[ first 7 years in South Africa ]

Jan 2010 - June 2017

Moved to South Africa! Serving Cape Town.

Actively involved in ministry in South Africa - specifically in community ministry, Children & Youth Discipleship, and Leadership Development. I've built deep relationships and trust in a beautifully complex community, and God is opening doors everyday for deep ministry opportunities. 

My goals for life and this mission were based in scripture that has spoken to me: "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:52. ​I am to grow as Jesus grew : in wisdom and health and in favor with God and man.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect ... Let love be genuine ... " Romans 12:1-2, 12:9-21

These verses sum up my goals and remind me how I'm called to live. These things are not natural, nor easy, but this is how Jesus lived and modeled for Christians to live. So, by grace everyday, I will seek to do the work of the Lord!

Some of the ministry opportunities include:

. Youth Ministry

. Discipleship 

. Church Support

. Curriculum writing/coordinating

. International Church Partnership coordination : short-term teams, missions education, etc.

. Art lessons for creative development & emotional processing

. Educational Tutoring

. Leadership Development Consultant and Speaker

[ married + ministry together ]

June 2017 - 2019

Finally found him!

After waiting what seemed like a life-time, God brought me a huge gift in Cape Town. I met my husband in May 2016 on a blind-date (set-up by a mutual friend). A few month into the relationship, we both knew this was God's plan. Just over a year after meeting, we were married and are now on an adventure in ministry together. 


Andrew is a talented artist and gifted in working with youth. Andrew's work allows him to develop young people from vulnerable backgrounds, giving them skills and motivation to take control of their lives and reach high. Andrew tells stories and illustrates real-life via artistic illustration. His passions and giftings add such value to what God has been teaching me over the last years in South Africa. 

We are currently discerning what God is asking us to do in our careers and mission since being joined in marriage. As a single woman, I always thought my mission work, purpose on the field and dreams would be 'distorted' by big life changes like this. However, God has redeemed my heart and my thinking and actually added ministry opportunities BECAUSE I'm united with Andrew. 


[ and baby makes 3 ]

April 2019 - current

He made us mom and dad. Our lives forever changed by this little guy. 
While it hasn't been easy to juggle ministry, marriage, baby and #adulting, we're grateful for the opportunities God has brought with our growing family. 
Andrew is currently Director of our art business and ministry studio, Grow Creative Solutions (check out more in the Creating section of this website). His talent will blow you away (says his wife who is not biased at all). 
Melanie juggles a couple of roles in the workspace. Coaching churches and leaders, writing curriculum, facilitating courses, conducting art workshops for creative development, and supporting leaders in ministry through GROW. 
2020 & 2021 brought hard times for South Africa. We pivoted our work, as did everyone else in the world. Ours however shifted and warped and we're still reeling from the inability to resume normal meetings. But, we've Zoomed, we've done food relief, we've offered smaller workshops to accommodate the needs of our beneficiaries. Our purpose has not changed, but our 'how' certainly had to. 
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