So the past week has been quite eventful for Anna and I…
We are now firmly convinced that now is the time that the Lord has been preparing us for and that we are going to be going to Haiti.
Let me share the journey that has led us to this conclusion:
As I write this , I have to admit that I am so filled with joy that I hope that my eagerness does not come across as anything more than a total surrender to God’s will in our family’s life.
Anna and I have felt called to missions since before we met. After getting married in 2008(in Monterrey) our calling had not changed, but God had made it clear that it was not the time. In 2006 I had been given a wonderful opportunity to begin a job at a very good company where I had the possibility of making very good money. It was for this reason that I believed that God had put me there so that we would be able to send others. So for the last 4 years, that is what we have done and it has been wonderful to see the fruits of our gifts and God providing for us when we given more than we could afford. Throughout this time, we knew still that at some point God had a place for us on the mission field, not just to send but also to go.
Also over these years we placed offers on two houses. Both times we offered more than the asking price. both times we were beat by competing offers. We took this as a sign from God that we were to stay mobile and live in our apartment. After seeing our very good friends go to the mission field and have to deal with selling a house was plenty of motivation for that. However we still figured our trip to the mission field was a ways off.
In June of 2009, my cousin Kyle passed away. For all practical purposes he was my brother in many respects. He grew up in the farmhouse next door to my brother and I. The three of us along with my other cousins were always extremely close, dinner every Sunday after church, bonfires in the evenings, we went to high school together, college together, we married around the same time. Kyle and his wife Chelsea became two of my wife and I’s dearest adult friends spending many evenings together and going on many trips together. When Kyle died last June at the age of 23, leaving his 22 year old wife a widow, it was the the most difficult time our family had ever gone through. It was a life changing thing, to see death move so rapidly, without warning, and to realize how short our lives really were. This was the catalyst God used in our lives.
After this, my heart began to grow restless, more so than usual. Shortly after losing our friendships with Kyle and Chelsea, our best friends left us as well. However, they left us for the mission field. We were so happy for them and while we knew that they had been called, we were wondering when we would be as well. In a span of five months, we lost our four closest friends in the world. This was very humbling and God used this time to allow us to grow and mature. Shortly after this we led our young adult Sunday School in the Francis Chan book study on his book Crazy Love. It was my cousin’s death and this book that began the transformation of our hearts from American Dreamers pretending to wait for God’s call, to actually preparing our lives for the call so that we would be ready when it came.
In May of 2010, Anna and I along with our cousin’s Alyssa and Phil, some very close friends, the Silveus’ and our Pastor, took a trip to Haiti to spend a week with Jared and Jalayne. This was one of many short term missions trips I had been on, but it was the first that I had put together and lead. This was also the first trip where I was not thankful upon returning home to the States, I was disgusted. Disgusted at the excess which I saw, the waste and greed, the pride, the apathy, the bubble. These were all new feelings to me as all of my previous trips I had been ready to return home and thankful to be back in America.
Shortly after this, in June of this year my pastor asked me to preach at our church. The Lord guided me to speak on the American Dream vs. God’s will for our lives. The Lord so convicted me on this sermon, we immediately sold our second vehicle because it was not a necessary thing. At the same time, I continued to struggle at work to find value in a career that did not directly impact the lives and hearts of the lost.
Three weeks ago, Anna and I traveled to Ohio with our friends who went to Haiti with us. We went to visit Eric, Jared’s brother. Eric was in Haiti with us in May. We have always joked with Eric and his wife Brianna that we would end up working in Haiti together because they also feel called to missions. The weekend was filled with the same talk and was a very nice weekend of relaxation and spending time with friends. After our return home, Eric texted me and told me that he had a dream that we had moved in next door to them, he could not remember where it was but I knew immediately that it was Haiti.
On Monday night, August 23, Anna had put together our first prayer meeting for our church. Anna and I along with Sheila and Joyce got together and talked and prayed for about two hours. We specifically prayed that night for our Pastors and their wives. We knew that Pastor Randy had been praying for a long time to raise up missionaries out of our own church and send them. I know for a fact that God used that prayer meeting to allow my week to go the way it did and that is what began us down this road that would lead to Anna and I becoming the answer toour own prayers for Pastor Randy.
On Friday, August 27, 2010, God opened the door. After the worst week I had ever been through at my job, after losing the ability to stay positive, which for me has never happened, EVER. God released me from my job. Immediately there was an overwhelming sense of freedom and excitement for what God had planned next. We began to pray in earnest about what God wanted us to begin pursuing. I began looking for another job and immediately felt God closing that door. This came in the form if a job opportunity in a related field that I would have been able to get without a problem, and Anna asking me if I really wanted to go back to doing what had made me so miserable for the sake of our own human security. My answer to that question was “Absolutely Not!” After continuing to pray and talk with Anna, we began replaying the last year and spotting God’s preparation for what had taken place on Friday. We began to recall dreams people had about us and shared with us, visions, prayers, words from God. All of these things pointed directly to being sent. After praying more and telling my wife’s parents and her sister (Pris), her sister’s first response was to ask us when we were going to Haiti. This was the first sign we had for Haiti and continued confirmation that now was the time God had been preparing us for.
On Saturday evening we told my parent’s along with my Aunt and Uncle and Grandma who were visiting from out of town. After dinner we were walking to our cars and Uncle Greg asked to pray for us. During that prayer on Saturday night he prayed for God’s will to be made evident to us, and that God would specifically give my parents peace about this through dreams. Later we found out that the Lord gave my Mom a dream that night, a vision of praying over Anna and I, sending us out. It was made even more unique in that in her dream Kyle was there with us and he was also praying over us to send us out. My mom said it was a reminder that eternity is so close.
On Sunday, it just so happened that our church was hosting our missionaries to Nepal, Dan and Sheryl Ingle. We had Sheryl in our Sunday school class and Anna and I were able to ask several questions about specific concerns that we had about things that were concerns for us, the two most prominent were about taking a baby to the mission field, which they did, and second about working with friends in the mission field, which we were considering and they highly recommended.
Then during the service, Dan spoke and was talking about Genesis 26: 19-21. This is where Abraham drills a well that is to provide for his family and sustain them (i.e. my job) but after a while a neighboring clan claims it is theirs and what was once meant to be a blessing of provision turns into a cause for bitterness, anger, and fighting. So God tells Abraham to let it go, to walk away, and to go to a new place. he Lord spoke directly to our situation with this message.
After church and Sunday dinner with the family we were at home and I went to Anna and asked her if she was really ready to be a missionary. I was having doubts. She said “Yes! Why are you doubting?!” I said”I don’t know, I just want to know for sure that this is what God wants!” At that moment, my phone started ringing. It was Jared and Jalayne calling us from Haiti, at the very moment where I was crying out to God that I just wanted to know for sure that he wanted us to go!
We spent the next hour on the phone with them. We told them that we felt now was the time that God had prepared us for, that we were being called to go to the mission field. We told them about the specific things that we felt God was calling us to do and that we were seeking God’s will for where we should go, but that wherever we were going to go, we wanted to be needed for our specific abilities. Jared and Jalayne began sharing with us that just that week, they had told their board that they NEEDED, not just wanted another couple to join them in order for their long term ministry to continue. They had also told their board that they could no longer handle short term groups as they needed to focus on the orphanage and the groups, while wonderful and needed took up to much of their time from what they were there to do. They also mentioned their need for website help…all of these things lined up perfectly with the talents and abilities we knew God had already prepared us to serve with. On top of all of this, they told us about a house they were looking at that just happened to be a duplex built for two families! Our conversation with them was yet another sign of the continuing faithfulness of God as we continued to seek His will for this next step of our lives.
The following night, Monday, we met with our Pastor and his wife. Randy and Tammy, before taking over as the lead pastor of FCC 6 years ago, had spent 6 years working with Project Abraham in Costa Rica. Before that they worked in church planting and did many other missions related things. Randy now sits on several missions boards and still serves as an encouragement for missionaries by traveling to meet with them and ministering to them as part of his duties at FCC as well as outside of FCC. We also knew that he and Tammy had been praying for many years that God would raise up missionaries from FCC to send out. We wanted to meet with them to find out if they thought we were ready, to get advice, perhaps constructive criticism, or whatever the Lord wanted us to hear. We prayed that if the Lord’s will was for us to go, that He would confirm it at this meeting in an absolute and abstract way that we would not be expecting.
After an hour and half of talking and asking questions and eating some great pizza, God answered that specific prayer, specifically. Not only did they support us with their words, they got out their personal checkbook and wrote us our first support check. In no way were we prepared for this, in no way were we prepared for the Lord to speak so clearly and definitively. We had our answer.
Over the past 10 days, this list that includes more items than detailed here and continues to grow every day of confirmations from God, friends, family, and the spiritual leaders in our lives lines up with going to the mission field now and that place being Haiti.
We have continued to pray for specific signs from God and continued confirmation and affirmation from the Lord if this was truly his open door. Every time, our specific prayers have been directly answered by the Lord over and over again.
We know that there will be ups and downs, mountains and valleys. There already have been even after such clear direction from the Lord. But as I read in Oswald Chamber’s classic, “Do not let the valleys steal away the vision God has shown you on the mountain top.” We have no intention of losing the vision God has given us, only asking Him to take it, mold it, and make it His entirely.
We can’t wait to see what our Awesome God has planned for us next!