Our Stories

Greg & Marsha Newton

Marsha and I grew up very differently. I was born in New Jersey and moved every few years because my father preached for churches (Australia, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma). Marsha was born and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, raised by her mother and grandmother.

We met at a Christian college through a shared interest in foreign missions, in serving those on the margins, and by working together in inner-city St. Louis, Missouri. Our first date was on April Fool’s Day, but we’ve managed to live that down.

After finishing undergraduate degrees, we moved to Abilene, Texas for graduate studies. Though our early plans were to go to Goiania, Brazil, we eventually formed a  mission team with another family to work among the Sukuma people of Tanzania, East Africa. We were blessed to adopt our son, Aaron, just before leaving Texas.

To get to know the congregation that was sending us, we moved to Birmingham, IMG_2481Alabama with plans to leave for Africa in six months. However, two months later Marsha was diagnosed with cancer and our plans  were put on hold. After six months of chemotherapy and radiation, and another six months of recovery, we moved to Mwanza, Tanzania in 1991. The next year we were blessed to have a daughter, Adrienne, born in Africa.

We were involved in church planting among the Sukuma tribe from 1991-1999.  The whole time we watched God work among poor and illiterate people who met as churches under mango trees. We became convinced about the power of simple, relational ways of being church. How these Tanzanians heard the gospel helped us hear it in new ways too!

We returned to Birmingham in 1999 and ministered for four years with a local congregation. In 2003, together with others, we set out to form a less institutionally-driven and more relationally-based community of faith that would welcome especially those who find themselves on the margins of society.

Our children are grown. We live in Pelham. Marsha works as a social worker serving oncology patients at a hospital cancer center, and I teach and serve at a mission church.

Shane & Hope May

Hope and I don’t sit still very well, and we blame our parents.

Hope grew up a military brat. Her father served in the United States Air Force, giving her family the opportunity to live in many different places (California, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, and Germany) as most military families do. Hope also spent a year and a half in Chemnitz, Germany as a missionary apprentice straight out of high school, as well as two years in Cuernavaca, Mexico as a missionary in her early 20’s.

I was born in Balleymoney, Northern Ireland; my parents were American missionaries there from 1976-1981. My early childhood and elementary years were spent in the FB_IMG_1512572695629United States mostly in and around Texas and Oklahoma, where my dad preached. In
1992, we moved to Kosice, Slovakia where we lived for nearly five years before returning to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I finished high school. After high school I moved to Lubbock, Texas to attend Bible college.

Which is where my path joined Hope’s.

Hope and I met and married in 2001. Two years later, we had our first child (our son, Kellen) and moved to Mexico City, Mexico where we lived for a year and a half. We then moved to Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico where we lived for another year and a half. We returned to Tulsa not long after the birth of our second child (our daughter, Samantha) and we spent the next seven years there before moving to Birmingham in June of 2014 to minister with the people here at DF. We currently live in Pelham.

Here’s how I think about faith development for youth.