The Restoration Initiative was established in 2014 as a way to serve the needy and share the redeeming love of Jesus. At its core it’s very simple, but our personal journey to this point has been much more complex. In fact, one thing is certain in hindsight; God has used countless people, events, and circumstances to make a clear path for this ministry, and we are humbled that he chose us to build its foundation.
We have wrestled with the best way to share our story, wondering at times if it best not to share “us” at all. Ultimately it is HIS story and we are merely a vessel. 2 Timothy 2:21 tells us that those who call on the Lord from a pure heart “will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” And that is where The Restoration Initiative began; with a deep desire in our hearts to be used by God.
Our hearts were first stirred in 2010 when we agreed to lead a Bible study in our home. A recent move had brought our family to a new town and our church was in need of small group leaders. We saw it as an opportunity to meet new people and grow relationships. Little did we know, God was ready to seize the opportunity to grow our faith, energize our spirits, and challenge us to live differently.
As we spent more time engaged in meaningful Bible study, preparing for our group each week, God opened our eyes and hearts to His truth and His will for our lives. We began to realize that a true faith in Jesus was so much more than a simple declaration. That was just the starting point. With the Holy Spirit alive in us, it is naturally followed by a commitment to grow in His word and live our lives differently. The deeper we went into His word, the more God revealed, and our purpose became very clear…to love others, to provide for those in need, and to share the good news of Jesus; and not just occasionally or during times of convenience, but everyday, as a new way of life.
We began to recognize that the life we were living was self-centered rather than God centered. We were temporarily inspired and motivated by Sunday morning sermons, but quickly returned to our everyday lives where our time, energy, and money were consumed by the world. We were giving only of our excess and serving when our busy schedules afforded us the opportunity. We claimed a love for God and a faith in Jesus; but the truth is, we were living for ourselves and our faith was superficial, manifested only by word and tongue and not by deed and truth. Jesus tells us in Luke 12:34 that wherever our treasure is, there our heart will be also. How could our hearts truly belong to God when our days were spent satisfying our own desires and so little was left for Him?
God was speaking to us as we opened ourselves to hear Him. We began to feel the Holy Spirit convicting us, guiding us, and empowering us to live for Jesus. We became uncomfortable; unsettled in a life centered around our family’s wants and desires, where the needs of others were secondary. We had a genuine longing for God to be glorified through our lives and we began looking for ways to live out our faith.
As our desire grew, God provided opportunities. We began to see needs that had gone unnoticed. He brought people into our lives who needed the love of Jesus and equipped us to provide. He gave us a heart for their lives and stories, not just their circumstances, and we were able to love more like Him. It was through these lives and stories that the idea of The Restoration Initiative was born. As we drew closer to those who were hurting, we realized so many needed an opportunity for life-change, not just a temporary handout. We began to inventory all that God had provided us and knew if we gave more and kept less we could make ministry a central part of our lives. It was not a profound thought or radical idea. It was the gospel message from beginning to end; a call to become “last” and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
In 2014 our family downsized, made a few lifestyle changes, and The Restoration Initiative became a reality. For us, it is a place to center ourselves; a real, tangible way to give meaning to our lives. It’s a means of teaching our children how to give sacrificially and live for Jesus, and an avenue for continued spiritual growth. We are grateful for God’s faithfulness and humbled by His grace and mercy. He loved us enough to awaken our spirit and transform our worldly perspective into a heavenly one. He has blessed our family with true joy and contentment and we are thankful.
We are still a work in progress, and no doubt, always will be. We continue to fall short…we choose the luxury instead of simply meeting our need, we spend time wrapped up in our worldly pursuits and neglect time with Him, we see another’s need but choose self over service; but these are the days when our need for Jesus and His saving grace is abundantly clear, and we are grateful that God has provided redemption through Him.
Our prayer is for God to continue to foster a desire in our hearts for less of this world and more of Him; that we would be willing to let go of our earthly treasures and become more like Jesus in our words, thoughts, values, and actions.
Ultimately, this is what The Restoration Initiative is all about. We hope it serves not only as a physical and spiritual blessing to the families who occupy our homes, but that it also inspires those who hear its mission to let their light shine before men in such a way that they may see their good works, and glorify their Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Gary and Niki Goldsmith
Founders/The Restoration Initiative