Adam and Randi Blaylock have ministered throughout their lives helping those in need. Now they, along with their two children, live in Nicaragua where they feed and educate people in an impoverished area bringing hope for brighter futures. This couple has boldly followed a call that demands a great deal of this family, but they continue to minister in the midst of poverty, loneliness, and civil unrest. Read their challenging story and check them out both on their ministry website at crossmountainmission.org and also at their coffee company, lost-gringos.com, which supports their ministry.
Fresh Paths: Tell us a little about yourselves.
I grew up in a small town in Mississippi called Winona. I have been interested in construction as long as I can remember. I started out helping my dad work on projects around the house. I had one of the coolest club houses ever. I would salvage supplies from my dad’s scrap pile and anywhere else that I could. Swiss Family Robinson and Indiana Jones encouraged my imagination and I always seemed to have a desire for adventure. As I got older It seems that God grew my talents and led me to a very successful career in construction which took me to several new places. I was married to my best friend, Randi, when I was 19, and she has been one of the most encouraging elements in my life. She has stood by every adventure, even through some that led down a path of failure. Together we have two wonderful children, Winnie and Ben, who have been through many adventures with us. They both seem to love all things outdoors. We are always having new rocks and bugs brought into the home.
Fresh Paths: You have been involved with ministry before, haven’t you? Tell us about that.
We first went into a full-time ministry capacity in 2009 as houseparents at French Camp Academy. This was one of the greatest times of our life. Our son, Ben, was born our first year there. We had a newborn, a four-year old daughter and ten boys from first grade thru fourth grade. Although it was one of our fondest memories, it was also one of the hardest seasons.
We served at French Camp for two years and sensed the Lord calling us down a different path. We left and became houseparents at Homes of Hope for Children. Little did we know that God was preparing us to start a ministry that we called Gap Village. This was a residential program for college boys that had aged out of the system and needed a little boost into adulthood. This lasted two years before we had to close the doors.
Closing Gap Village was a dart to the heart. Deep down we knew that it accomplished what God had purposed it to accomplish, but on the surface, it hurt and it caused many different emotions. We had resentment for the church and God’s people, we were burned out with religion and serving in general. What we felt was let down. We had poured all of our being into what God called us too. We never blamed God, but found ourselves bitter with God’s people. We didn’t go to church regularly after that for over a year. My kids were eating out of date donated canned corn. We were broke.
God used the next year or so to bring about healing. I had taken a job in Beaufort, SC building a hangar for the F-35 fighter jet on the Marine Corps Air Station. This is the place that God brought a fellow by the name of Brandon Brock into my life. He had been part of a new church plant in Beaufort and invited us to go. It wasn’t long after that we got plugged in heavily and were planning to go to Nicaragua as a family on a mission trip. Although we still had all kinds of different feelings, God used this time to show us how to focus on Him and not His people. We never lost faith, we just let the feelings of the world well up in our hearts. God used Gap Village not only to serve the boys that came through the program, but to teach and train us to know that God is in control.
Fresh Paths: Nicaragua is not the easiest place in the world to raise a family. What led you there?
As stated earlier, we were planning a short-term mission trip through our church in Beaufort. We were looking at this trip as a great experience to grow as a family. We wanted our children to experience a life outside of themselves and to grow their worldview. Randi and I both said prior to going to Nicaragua that this was only a short-term trip and no matter what we saw there, we were never going into full-time ministry again. It took two days for God to break us. All of the bitterness we once held didn’t seem to matter anymore. He had shown us His world outside of ourselves. We new immediately that we would be back.
Over the next few months, Nicaragua was all that we could talk about. Every time that I looked at pictures, God broke me. There was no doubt in either of our minds that God was leading us here. We talked with our pastor and he was immediately supportive. We began the planning phases and made several trips back over the next year. We felt that it had gotten serious and we needed to tell our families. We didn’t really get much feedback. Maybe they thought that it was just a romance that would end within a year. After we told them we began selling everything we owned. We moved to Nicaragua with 16 military duffle bags weighing 40 pounds each. The only things we brought were our clothes, the kids Legos and a few other small toys, the homeschool curriculum for the next year and a few small hand tools.
Fresh Paths: How did you make the decision to ultimately go there?
I don’t know that we felt that we had a choice. We wanted to go, but I feel that we never questioned it. That may sound weird, but I really don’t remember questioning the call or if it were the right decision. We had been changed by what we had been shown. Our view on the world had been changed. Our view on people had been changed. Our sense of urgency for the people here and their souls had been kicked into high gear.
Fresh Paths: What obstacles did you face in moving to a very different place?
I feel that the thing we did right was making several trips before we moved. It allowed us to be more familiar with what we needed and what we didn’t or what we needed to take and what we could get here. Our goal was to move here as light as possible, but there were a few things that we had to have. Another obstacle was plugging in once here. It was very difficult to learn their way of life. It was very difficult to learn who could be trusted. We were taken advantage of many times and although it hurt at the time, I believe we learned valuable lessons through it. After 15 months of living here, life is so much easier. We have built a circle of friends that we do life with and that makes all the difference in the world. We still have problems and struggles, but having that group of people to count on makes it go by so much easier.
Fresh Paths: Tell us what you’re doing in Nicaragua? Are you connected to an organization, or are you on your own?
Before moving to Nicaragua full-time, we had an idea of what God had sent us for, but really, we didn’t have a clue. It really took a good year to figure out what God had for us. We went into every meeting with an open mind and seeking God’s direction in each one. Some fell through and some were answers to prayer. After the initial learning curve and seeking phase, we finally have more average days. Once we figured out what God was leading us to, we started an organization here called Cross Mountain Mission.
This organization exists to provide holistic child development for children living in extreme poverty. We accomplish this through what we call Legacy Centers. Our first Legacy Center is in a community called Datanli. We have around 250 kids that come on a daily basis, Monday thru Thursday. We teach four different age groups and four different subjects. The desired outcome is children that grow into holistic adults that are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, and that they become productive members of society that possess a skill to provide for their families.
Since we homeschool, a typical day is spent with Randi teaching Winnie and Ben until around 2:00. Ben is playing baseball in a local league and Winnie plays basketball with a group of kids her age. I use the early mornings to catch up on some office stuff. The mid-morning is spent gathering supplies and running errands before we go to the Legacy Center. I usually pickup our teaching staff around 12:00 and we head out to Datanli. Each day we teach a different subject to each of the age groups until around 5:00. After that we pack up and head home, eat dinner, catch up with each other and get ready for the next day.
Randi and I started the ministry of Cross Mountain Mission, which got its’ name from a cross that stands high on the mountain towering over the city. The first cross was placed on that mountain in the 1700’s out of fear that the mountain was going to fall on the city. Cross Mountain Mission was born out of a desire to show people that when they lift their eyes to the mountains looking for help, they can rest assured in the fact that their help comes from the Lord Maker of Heaven and Earth. Although we have created an organization that we pray will be a beacon of Hope for years to come, it is not there yet. It is a struggle to meet the everyday challenges of operating an organization and also meet the needs of our family. With only a few local staff and us, it is very difficult to balance all that needs to be done.
Fresh Paths: What are some of the challenges you face?
There are many. At the Legacy Center we give food out on Thursdays to every child that had perfect attendance for the week. This number has grown tremendously, and we are currently spending around $1,000 a month. We have found a partner that will provide food if we cook it and serve the children hot meals five days a week. So, we are currently in the planning phases of doing this, but there are many things to work through. The partnership does not go into effect until after the first of the year, so we have to try to continue to provide food until then and come up with the resources for the kitchen and dining space also.
We also depend completely upon the generosity of others’ giving. Someone once said that there are two ministries in missions, you either go down the well or you hold the rope. Either way you should have scars on your hands.
At this moment, there is tremendous civil unrest. Around four hundred people have been killed and there is an underlying tension between the people and the government. There has also been a huge loss in jobs and revenue. All tourism has come to a halt and short-term mission teams play a part in that. Around 70,000 jobs have been lost in the tourism sector alone. The people of Nicaragua are hurting. Two months ago, the country was closed down by physical roadblocks. These roadblocks made travel by vehicle impossible. The community that we work in was completely cut off from supplies. We decided to do a campaign to raise funds for food. We were able to provide over 60,000 meals during that time. I say all of this to say that the people of Nicaragua need us to shine the light of Christ now more than ever. We have gained great respect by being here through all of the problems. The people expected us to pack up and leave. The fact that we stayed shows them that we truly care.
Another challenge is learning Spanish. Although we have learned a lot since coming here, we are nowhere near fluent.
Another is the loneliness. We pour ourselves out continually, but it is difficult to fill ourselves back up. Although we are friends with many Nicaraguans, it is not the same as home. We miss like-minded people, but I think it has been God’s way of showing us how to be solely dependent on Him.
Lastly, we miss family and friends. One of the challenges is understanding that life goes on. It is so easy to feel like we have been forgotten. We miss life events. We miss birthdays. We miss holidays. Facebook and MagicJack have made these things a little easier but not completely.
Fresh Paths: Have you ever thought about quitting? Ever felt like giving up? Why haven’t you?
Sometimes the draw of financial security creeps in. Sometimes, when we are low on funds, the thoughts of going home to work and fund the mission comes to mind. I don’t know that I have ever thought about quitting though. Every time these thoughts come, I force myself to remember our purpose here. Our relationships are the driving force of reaching people for Christ. If we went home just to send money, we are not in the call of God on our life.
Fresh Paths: How has this season of life changed you? Spiritually? Emotionally? Family?
It has definitely changed the way that I view the world. I seem to have more of a respect for poverty. So many times, I think that the American Church comes in seeking to fix. We think that money fixes poverty. I have come to respect these people so much. Who am I to tell them that their way of life is all wrong? They are happy people and have very little. I think God has used this time to show me that poverty starts with the person.
Poverty is not just a lack of resources, it starts deep in a person’s soul. I have learned that we have to address the entire issue when it comes to poverty. We must take a holistic approach. God has definitely opened my eyes to many things that can’t be explained to a person that has never experienced life in a different culture. Spiritually, He is growing our faith toward a complete reliance on Him. I seem to be the type of person that likes to be in control. I seem to be a systematic type of person. My personality has had to learn about Nica time!!
I think being here has been difficult for our family, according to American standards. Randi and I both grew up involved with different sports and activities. We had friends in school. It has been a struggle to not get sucked into the trap. We have been fortunate enough to get Ben plugged into a little league baseball team, and Winnie is playing basketball. We also have a group of other missionaries that live in our neighboring city. We meet with them once a week and the kids have youth group. It has been great to see the kids build lives of their own here. It is different, but little by little, we have made this home.
Fresh Paths: If you had it to do all over again, would you? Why or why not?
Absolutely!! This has been such a cool experience for us as a family. My children have experienced a life that is beyond my expectations. Although our life here is very different, and we get wrapped up in what we are missing, it is a life that is full of adventure and new experiences. We realized that we haven’t missed out on anything at all; we have just gone down a different path. It is also more convenient to come here willingly on our own power than it is in the belly of a whale!
Fresh Paths: What do you think holds other people back from doing something “crazy” like moving to another country, pursuing a new ministry, chasing their own “dream”? What would tell someone who is thinking about pursuing a “fresh path”?
I think people let the fear of the unknown control their decision. But, do we ever really know anything? Do we know what tomorrow brings? We live in a world of unknowns. I also think we are afraid of failure. We have all heard the saying, “if you haven’t made a mistake, you’re not doing anything.” I think if an opportunity of something “crazy” comes across your path, you should pursue it. If you let these opportunities pass, you will regret it the rest of your life. Even if you fail, it will be an experience that you will never forget.
Fresh Paths: If someone wanted to find out more about what you’re doing, or support you financially, how would they do that?
The easiest place to find out what we do, or give financially, is through our website.
We have many different ways that people can partner with us. On the website are several Campaigns and Projects that you can sponsor. Feel free to go and browse around. We also have a way that you can specifically sponsor the Legacy Center with $38 a month. You can also click the store button to purchase items like shirts and coffee.
There is also a button under giving for ChangeTrust. This is a really cool way to give. It’s an app that a person can download and sync their debit and credit card. It automatically rounds every purchase made to the nearest dollar and, once that totals $25, it makes an automatic donation to the ministry.
We also offer mission trips. You can email me at email@example.com to find out more about that option. We offer a really neat way for people to raise funds for their mission trips also by selling coffee.
A person can also check out lost-gringos.com. This is a website that we started to sell our coffee, this coffee comes directly from the area that we serve and all the money goes to support us as missionaries.
We also offer wholesale prices on coffee for churches or businesses. We have several churches that serve our coffee at their coffee bar. This is a good way for churches to support missions just by drinking coffee.