The Dream Team

The Dream Team

David’s 6th and Final Photo-Blog from East Africa

The new birth puts an end to racism: As you can see from this photo of my mission team mates, Heaven’s Family isn’t going to need a Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) officer. Pictured from left to right are Jerry Jefferson (half African-American and Director of Heaven’s Family’s Farming God’s Way Ministry), Stephen Servant (European and Native American ancestry and Heaven’s Family’s President), and Jai Sarma (born in India and Heaven’s Family’s Director of International Development).

It is often said by successful entrepreneurs that the secret to their success is hiring people who are smarter than they are. In my case, that has been fairly easy to do. And I’ve been reminded of that once again during this two-week trip to Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Uganda. In this final blog, let me tell you a little about my three traveling companions.

The Rapping Farmer

Jerry Jefferson was discovered by his predecessor at Heaven’s Family, Dick Samuels. Jerry was an unlikely candidate for a job that would require him to travel overseas to teach Africa subsistence farmers how to increase their harvests. The furthest Jerry had ever previously traveled from Pennsylvania was Florida and Kansas. And he had spent his life living in urban neighborhoods.

When Dick first met him, Jerry was obeying the Lord in his urban setting. His ministry included serving underprivileged youth and performing Christian Rap Music. When he attended a Heaven’s Family staff meeting at Dick’s invitation, he knew he had found some kindred spirits. That was in 2016.

Since then, Jerry has traveled many times to Africa and mastered the complex ropes of international ministry. He has built strong relationships with our key partners in five African nations and helped to train many of them, not only in the methods of Farming God’s Way, but also in Disciple-Multiplication. And Jerry is still making disciples in his urban neighborhood. He is bearing fruit like crazy.

Everyone who knows Jerry loves and appreciates him. He is a humble man, a team player, and smart as a whip. He lives what he preaches. Here’s a sample of his Rap:

Lord, please send workers for the crop
He said, “The harvest is ripe, the laborers are few”
Your neighborhood is the field
The laborer is you!

The Creative Organizer

My wife and I are blessed with three amazing children who have all worked for Heaven’s Family for various periods over the past 20 years. Stephen, of course, is our son. He joined Heaven’s Family full-time 18 years ago.

Stephen started by creating project videos that raised tens of thousands of dollars for the “least of these” around the world. Since then, he has worn practically every hat at Heaven’s Family at one time or another. He has been our IT expert, our accounting head, and a focused ministry director who has traveled around the world. And much, much more.

Stephen has excelled at everything he’s put his hand to do. He is self-motivated and self-taught. He was eventually promoted to Director of Operations, then Executive Director, and finally, early this year, Heaven’s Family’s board unanimously elected him to be President. Now he is leading Heaven’s Family into an even more fruitful future.

Stephen has the rare quality of being both right- and left-brained, being both creative and organizational/analytical. He can compose music and also design complex spreadsheets and implement sophisticated software. He can bring vision to reality and organize chaos. Without Stephen’s many contributions, there would be no Heaven’s Family. He makes me a proud father! (In a humble way…)

The Compassionate Academic

When I read an early sentence contained in Jai Sarma’s cover letter that accompanied his resume’, I knew he was my kind of person. Jai wrote, “I consider serving the poor as a mark of my obedience to the Lordship of Christ.” And it only got better from there. I learned that Jai had 37 years of experience in the field of Transformational International Development working for World Vision International, during which time he served in various capacities in more than 50 nations.

Jai’s career at World Vision was a story of continual promotion, eventually to a position of a Global Director. And he was teaching as an Affiliate Assistant Professor on Transformational Development at Fuller Theological Seminary (and still is). In addition, all of Jai’s impressive references gave him high marks.

We never expected someone of Jai’s caliber to apply for the position of Heaven’s Family’s Director of International Development, partly because we knew we could never afford someone of his experience. But Jai assured us that he would accept whatever we could afford, which ended up being less than half of his previous salary at World Vision (where he was also underpaid in my opinion).

Jai has been with us the entire two weeks in Africa, meeting those with whom we work and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of our ministries. It is clear that he is going to help us reach a higher level of excellence and fruitfulness over the next few years. It has been a joy to travel with him and watch him in action.


I should mention that the other two men whom I’ve written about in this blog are also worth much more than they are paid, but like Jai, money is not what is motivating them.

(And perhaps I should also mention without bragging that I also hold not one, but two Ph.Ds…although mine stand for Post-Hole Digger and Pizza Hut Delivery.)

Below are a few more photos from our final stop—n Uganda—with captions. Thanks for joining me on this journey, and thanks to everyone who makes possible all the ministry of Heaven’s Family.

Like most children in rural Africa, this little girl owns one set a clothing, a very tattered dress.

A typical scene of how water is gathered in rural Africa…from ponds like this one that dry up completely during the warmest months.

Here is a photo of one of Heaven’s Family’s successful Safe Water projects in Uganda that we visited.
Guess which side of the path has corn that is being farmed using traditional methods and which side has corn that is being farmed God’s Way? Jerry shows the contrast.
One indigenous ministry in Zimbabwe that Heaven’s Family’s Critical Medical Needs Ministry regularly supports is an outreach to families that face special challenges caring for children with disabilities, typically cerebral palsy. When we visited a gathering of beneficiary families, however, there were a number of young people with albinism, who not only often suffer from visual impairment, but also stigmatization, as it is sometimes believed that albinism is a punishment or a curse. In some African contexts, children with albinism are in danger of being kidnapped and murdered for their body parts, which are believed to make potent charms that guarantee riches or success.

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