I want to sit down with each of you, right now, with a cup of coffee or sweet tea or yerba mate or whatever it is you drink. Everyone have something in hand?
I have some news to share. I’d rather wait until we have the real cup of coffee, face-to-face, instead of virtual one, but we all know how fast news spreads around these days, and I want you to hear it from me first.
In April, God started to stir up a strong desire in my (and my husband’s) heart to ask him about returning to the mission field. We began a season of intense fasting and prayer, asking him what he has for us. This is not the first time we’ve done this, by the way. Several times before, we’ve asked God about going into missions and he’s said stay. So our hearts were prepared for for the same answer.
An interesting thing happened. The day after our fast ended, we recieved an invitation for a very desirable and well-suited position on the mission field, in Israel. Immediately, our hearts lept and wanted to say yes! But instead we asked for counsel and prayer from our spiritual leaders, and asked the Lord for a double-confirmation from his word.
The next week, another invitation came, for a similar position but in South Africa.
Then God spoke to Gert Isaiah 30:17-21. The double-confirmation we asked for, as this passage has special meaning to my husband. Our prayer partners came back and said ‘yes.’
I cannot convey to you the joy and release we felt at this point. We’ve been married for 11 years, and always assumed we would raise our family on the mission field. But God has led us on a different journey in the States, which has been filled with relationships and experiences I will treasure forever. It has been a privilege and joy to pastor a church, we have grown more through this experience than I thought possible. Our children have enjoyed the privildge of living in the abundance of the United States. I have been thoroughly equipped to mother and homeschool my children, thanks to co-ops and godly friends. My husband has found a vocation as a paramedic which he is passionate about. It will be an incredible asset on any mission field. God has been so gracious and good to us.
The hard part comes now, in telling our dear friends and family, that we are leaving. Much sadness and tears is to come as we let go and say goodbye. It never gets easier to say goodbye. The sacrifice is great, for those who stay and for those who go.
My comfort and solace is this, from the book of Hebrews: All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he had prepared a city for them.
Our days on earth are numbered, but our days in heaven are not. If we share the fellowship of being called children of God, we will have all of eternity to be together in a far superior home. If we can live our lives with purpose, investing in eternity, it makes the sacrifice of saying goodbye worth it.
We do not have the final confirmation of where to go, although we are leaning heavily towards South Africa. We can be fruitful there, training and discipling new students and missionaries. And our children are African-American, right? It will be a blessing for them to experience the other part of their heritage and culture. Many of Gert’s family have not even met all of our children.
From the bottom of our hearts, we love you. I want to make the most of the time we have left in the States. We ask for your prayers as we make decisions, transition into a missions lifestyle, and begin an international move as a (soon-to-be) family of 7.