When Jeff & April married, they dreamed of a simple life in Alabama. They wanted a simple home filled with a few kids on a small farm with a few acres where they could roam and play…a place where they could teach them about God and life. Their greatest ambitions were to be godly parents and provide for their family. Family and home was their mission field.
began to burden their hearts and give them a desire to minister to children. So began their journey into ministry as they worked in camp, children’s, and youth ministries. It was Christmas 2007 when April flew into Haiti with Missionary Flights International (MFI) on her first foreign short-term mission trip to work with a children’s ministry pastor. There on the front porch of the dorm, God broke her heart for Haiti and it’s people and she fell in love with missions. A few months later, she talked Jeff into going back with her and before the end of the next year they took all three of their kids back to Haiti. For the next several years they continued to serve wherever needed and going on short-term trips whenever possible. Going on short-term mission trips changed their lives as they allowed God to begin to redirect their path. They sold the farm, literally, and began downsizing in preparation for what they believed was a call to the foreign field.
In all honesty, the word “missionary” was intimidating.
We naturally put that duty right up there with pastor, don’t we? Isn’t that just like us? We consider pastors and missionaries to be the “superstars” of the faith and tend to think God only uses the “superstars” to be used in mighty ways to make a difference in the world. Reality is, if we are a believers and followers of Christ, then we are all missionaries.
is in the business of using just ORDINARY people. And because of our ordinariness, when surrendered to God, allows Him to make a miracle out of our lives that only He can receive the glory for.
They were amazed that God would choose to use ordinary people like them and send them to a foreign country to work for Him. Both amazed and afraid, Jeff ran from God like Jonah and fell into sin that almost destroyed their marriage and family. But oh, the relentless grace of God! What Satan meant to destroy, God used it for their good and by His grace their marriage was fully restored, redeemed and their family grew stronger.
In 2012, they surrendered together to follow Jesus wherever, go whenever, and do whatever God directed them, with His help and for His glory. A year later, they were on a plane to Costa Rica for language school. After a year of studying and serving in Costa Rica, their first missionary journey took them to the Dominican Republic with SCORE International. While in the Dominican they worked alongside and partnered with national pastors and other missionaries, hosted and coached short-term teams, and cared for fellow missionaries. Jeff was part of planting a new church up in the mountains of Constanza. April and Alli taught ESL in a local school. They were heartbroken when they had to return to the states just three short years into ministering there. Though they knew they needed to return stateside to care for a loved one, they still felt God directing them to coach teams and care for missionaries.
A few months after returning stateside, they heard about the Hospitality Park. Conversations with Joe Karabensh, MFI’s President, lead to a meeting with the MFI family and they were invited to join the ministry in Fort Pierce, FL. They believe during their years on the field God was preparing them for this next missionary journey and partnering with MFI is their place of greater impact. They are super excited to “stand in the gap” alongside the MFI family.
Jeff worked in the metal joist industry for 18 years and April has an Associates in Office Administration. She homeschooled their children while working in children’s ministry for 5 years until God began directing their steps toward the foreign mission field. Serving in the church and later on the foreign field gave them the opportunity to raise their kids in ministry.
Jeff & April have been married since February, 1994. Their three biggest blessings are: Justin, Alli, & Austin. Justin has graduated from trade school and is working as a skilled lineman. He & their future daughter-in-love, Casey, will be married in March 2019. Alli is currently studying to be a Spanish educator. And, Austin is a senior in high school. Their sending church is Wills Valley Community Church in Fort Payne, Alabama. They will be serving with MFI as property managers at the Hospitality Park, serving and ministering to volunteers, short-term teams and missionaries. April lovingly refers to Jeff as Mr. Fixit, a jack-of-all-trades, and he will be helping with property maintenance as well. They are currently raising their support and hope to move to Fort Pierce, FL as soon as possible in 2019.
If you have chosen to donate toward the ministry of the Essinger family, thank you! Our staff have chosen to give their time and skills in the air and on the ground in order to serve the Lord. Therefore, this family relies on the financial support of others in order to continue serving with MFI.
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