"Oh Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective. Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but VAPOR. Surely people go through life as mere ghosts. Surely they accumulate worthless wealth without knowing who will eventually haul it away. But now, oh Lord, on who am I relying? You are my only hope!" -Psalm 39:4-7 (NET)
Micah was a three-sport athlete who had dreams of grid iron splendor and loved to surf. He had no idea that a family trip to the beach, would nearly send him to the grave. On October 9, 1995, a stranger found Micah’s lifeless body floating face down in the surf. "I remember feeling a shock rush through my body as soon as my head hit the water. I had dived into big waves a hundred times before, but this time I knew something was wrong." Micah shattered four vertebrae in his neck, was immediately rendered quadriplegic, and he flatlined. His body was loaded onto a life flight and transported to Tampa General Hospital.
Intense rehab and the grace of God allowed Micah to recover use of his legs and partial use of his arms. No longer able to play football, Micah honed his skills in soccer.
"I had a different focus now. My goal was to help people in physical and spiritual need. I was drawn to people trapped in difficult situations," remembers Micah. In grad school, he traveled to Africa where he saw extreme poverty on a level like no other. He fell in love with the people and his heart broke for their plight. Micah recalls,"It’s hard to describe what happened inside of me. Poverty became personal. Statistics became names and faces. Their dire situation felt like my problem." He also found that soccer helped break through language & culture barriers quickly, an insight that would shape the future. As he prepared to leave Africa and started to process what he had seen, Micah came to a crossroads.
"I shouldn’t be here today, simple as that. God gave me a second chance at life. He showed me that it was fragile, short, like a vapor."
"I knew I would spend the rest of my life trying to forget what I saw, or spend the rest of my life trying to do something about it. God taught me life was a Vapor when I broke my neck. God taught me His heart for the lost & least when Africa broke my heart."
Wrestling in the tension between his plans for his life and a new stirring Micah began to consider what it would look like to live for those who were trapped in extreme poverty and had less access to the gospel. "I was fasting and praying, and then God downloaded the vision. I began to see an oasis in the middle of the slum where people could access clean water, medical assistance and basic entrepreneurial training . Where children could enroll in school and families no longer die from hunger. I could see a place where children youth and adults could come play the game they love and hear about the One who loves them."
So, Micah dropped out of school, moved into his car and traveled over 40,000 miles in 8 months sharing the vision with churches and anyone who would listen. In 2005, friends of Micah helped register Vapor Ministries as a non-profit while Micah’s then girlfriend and now wife, Audrey, ran the back office from her dorm room. After assembling a board, crystalizing the vision and raising some capital, Micah returned to Africa to bring the vision to life. "Our goals were threefold, says Micah. "Oversee the construction of the center, develop the local indigenous team that would manage operations, and set up the systems and structure that would guide the ministry into the future and allow us to scale.
Micah selected 12 men from the church he partnered with in the slum and together they begin building the first center. Together they developed an additional 30 leaders in preparation of opening their first ministry center. In 2005, the first center was opened in Kawangware slum. Thousands came to the grand opening, and the team immediately began meeting needs and feeding souls on a large scale. Not only were people getting relief from the desperate poverty that entrapped them, but churches were starting to grow and flourish as new believers with local faith families.
Today, Vapor Ministries operates multiple ministry centers in multiple countries, serving hundreds of thousands on a weekly basis and employing hundreds of indigenous people. Each year, Vapor Ministries is serving tens of millions of cups of clean water, serving hundreds of thousands of meals through centers and providing health services to thousands of people in desperate need. Micah says, "We praise God for our partners that make this global impact a reality. It is our dream that God will use us to touch millions of people around the world. He’s given us the model now we are praying for more partners. At the end of the day we have one life to live, and it’s like a Vapor. We each have to answer the question, will we waste it, or invest it?"
Since our humble beginnings, God has increased our ministry capacity, resulting in greater physical and spiritual impact among those living in extreme poverty. Today, Vapor Ministries is comprised of a group of dedicated people, fueled by willing supporters, all making personal sacrifices in order to carry out an urgent mission.
For more information about our cornerstone beliefs and the driving doctrine behind our work, check out our Statement of Faith.