Mark and Kendra Horst understand poverty.
Married in 2008, they spent two years with Mark working as a potter and Kendra cleaning houses. As Kendra puts it, “We were nearly dirt poor. We accounted for every single dollar every month.”
For many, that would be a situation from which to escape. But Mark and Kendra, who came from a pastor’s home and an organic farm respectively, felt God was asking them to draw a line in the sand. They were marking out a standard of living they would stick to, no matter how much they earned in the future.
“It didn’t make any sense at the time,” they recall. “We didn’t have any money anyway!”
The next thing that happened was they heard about Haggai Institute. A friend told them about the opportunity to volunteer at the Mid-Pacific Center. Looking for “something fun and interesting to jump into,” Mark and Kendra applied and left for Maui in the summer of 2009.
They instantly fell in love with both the ministry and the people. Belonging to a mission-minded church, the idea of helping leaders around the world be better missionaries in their own communities resonated strongly.
“Like all volunteers, we met so many incredible people at Haggai and heard so many incredible stories about the work of God around the world. One evening, we shared a dinner table with people from seven countries. Some of those countries were at war with one another – yet here we were, sharing a meal and celebrating the love of God. It felt like a little taste of heaven.”
It was on their second stint as volunteers, in the fall of 2011, that Mark and Kendra’s lives were turned upside down.
They received a call from Kendra’s uncle, who had founded a solar energy business in 1983, called King Solar. He wanted to retire. He wondered if Mark and Kendra would like to take it over.
“After lots of prayer,” says Kendra, “we accepted the offer. So we returned from Maui as company owners.”
Not only that. King Solar was on the brink of a huge growth surge that has lasted five years. The company installs residential and small commercial photovoltaic systems to generate electricity. They are the third largest installer in Kansas and in the top 500 installation companies nationwide.
Now Mark and Kendra understood the line in the sand.
“We saw why God called us to create a living standard for ourselves BEFORE having significant money at our disposal. God showed us the line – so we’d know how much was enough to live. God is SO good!”
That wasn’t the only thing that changed.
Mark and Kendra entered their marriage with a shared vision for adopting. They were acutely aware of the large number of children in the foster system awaiting homes. But it was only when Kendra had a dream about adopting that they decided to act on it.
“That was the kick in the pants we needed,” says Kendra. They started the licensing process in 2013 and now have two boys – Evan (three) and Lincoln (almost two). “Our hearts are overflowing with love for these two boys,” they say. “Both are walking miracles, with no lasting effects from their unfortunate beginnings.”
Mark and Kendra are passionate people. Passionate about healthy eating and living, passionate about getting to know their Lawrence Street neighbors, passionate about solar energy, simplicity and sacrifice, bonfires and board games, and teaching their kids to enjoy the outdoors.
They are also passionate about missions.
“We support Haggai financially,” says Mark, “because we feel like it is the most effective tool for carrying out the Great Commission worldwide. The model works. And because of our previous commitment to live modestly, we’ve been able to be far more generous than we ever thought possible.”
For Mark and Kendra, “impacting the world locally” also means impacting their own community in the States – an experience they describe as “pretty cool.”
They’d love to go back for another stay as volunteers. But, says Kendra, “it looks like we’ll have to put that off for another 18 years or so!”
They have never lost their sensitivity to need. One day when they were volunteers, Mark was cleaning the koi pond at the Mid-Pacific Center when a participant came up beside him and said, “Where I come from, if we had a fish that big we would eat it, not just look at it.”
Remembering that reminds them both just how important that line in the sand will be.