Jeff and Carla’s Story
My name is Carla Picicci. My husband Jeff and I would like to take the time to thank you for your interest in what God is doing in Kenya and introduce ourselves to you by giving a bit of a background on how we ended up serving God in Africa.
We are your regular, ordinary, common American folks. We raised our two kids, Sarah and Matt, in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. They are both grown and are now raising their own families. We were a very normal Christian family, very involved in our local church, InStep Church, in Kennewick, Washington. Our kids played sports and went to music lessons, etc. We had a mortgage, car payment and everything else that your average American family has, just living the rat race.
In the late ’90’s, we began to take an interest in world missions. It kind of came out of nowhere. There wasn’t any particular person or event that sparked our interest. It was God Himself who started turning our hearts in that direction. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about missions and missionaries. I started learning about different philosophies and approaches to missions, both local and around the world. We began to try to implement some of what we were learning into our own lives and ministries.
Sometime around 2000, we accepted the position of Mission Coordinators at our local church. We started by “doing missions” at home; painting or roofing houses of elderly or disabled people, sponsoring English as a Second Language class for Hispanic residents of our community, etc. We started taking short-term mission teams to do projects around the Pacific Northwest, as well as taking teams to volunteer at an orphanage outside of Ensenada, Mexico. God just continued to grow our love for serving Him through missions. We finally felt like we would never really be satisfied in this life until we were serving Him in the field full time.
We had absolutely no idea how this would ever happen since we had no seminary training or any other formal education. But, we knew God was putting it on our hearts. There was so much to take into consideration. So many scary aspects of what we were contemplating. Jeff had a very good job which he loved and which provided well for us. It also gave us the security of a growing retirement, health insurance, etc. The thought of leaving our children was more than we wanted to think about. We knew that to go in the field, we would have to give up all the securities the world had to offer. Still, we knew it was what we had to do.
As we began to look into mission opportunities, they were very limited. Existing missionary organizations and projects required either seminary training or a large support base, neither of which we had. We continued to pray and seek counsel from our pastor and church members who had seen first-hand what God was doing in our lives.
We recognized that nothing is impossible with God. If we were to take His calling seriously, we needed to do whatever we could in preparation as we waited for Him to open the door to the mission field. Our church was so supportive that in recognition of our calling, they provided us with housing. They made it possible for us to liquidate our assets and be debt-free. When God made it clear when and where we were to “go”, we would not be tied to the world.
This went on for a few years. Then in early 2003, we met Ron and Joyce Panzero, founders of Rehema Ministries. They introduced us to a man from Kesogon, Kenya. He invited us to come stay with him and his family for three months and serve God in Kesogon. Jeff had the opportunity to visit Kenya for a few weeks in 2001 and was thrilled that God was now making a way for us to experience it together. Jeff quit his job and we prepared to go to Africa.
We went to Kenya and fell in love with it! We love the people! We love the weather! We love the culture! We love serving our Lord in Africa! During that initial three months, we built relationships, checked out the possibilities for a future ministry there and, most importantly, prayed and prayed and prayed. By the end of the trip, we were certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that Africa was where we were to serve God!
We went home and spent the next four months preparing to relocate to Kenya. We gave stuff away and put stuff in storage. We got our banking and legal papers in order, and in January 2004 we made Kenya our home. We went without the backing of any big organization, just the promise of support from family and friends who believed in our dream and wanted to share in it with us.
Since that time, God has blessed us beyond description! He has always provided what we need as individuals as well as providing for the ministry. God is good all the time!