In April 2011, dad chose to go on a sabbatical from pastoral duties at Christian Life Mennonite for a year. The previous months had been demanding with increased responsibilities at work, and he wanted to use this invested time to care more intentionally for his family and to seek God for direction for the next few years.
In the fall, God began to open the door for us to be able to visit Israel with the Loren Miller family by the next spring. We made plans and everything came together miraculously. Then, before the trip, our plans were suddenly put on hold.
During a family meal a few days after Christmas, dad randomly asked, “So, what would you all say if we were asked to go to Thailand?”
The room was instantly quiet. (Sometimes no one knows if dad is joking or not.) After a long period of silence, he began to explain, with tears in his eyes, that someone had called him to ask him if he would be willing to be go and pastor the church and staff at IGO.
A move like this is a big thing for our family, and at first no one was sure what to think. But in the next few days as we talked, prayed about and processed this, we began to realize that the Lord had been preparing all of our hearts individually. It still seemed like such a big thing it wouldn’t actually happen, but slowly we each were able to pray what was on Chloe’s heart one night: “And dear God, about Thailand … I don’t really want to go, but it was Your idea, so … amen.”
The following time was one of prayer and fasting together and seeking what the Lord really wanted. It surprised me, and all of us, how He worked in us all, making us willing to go, and how quickly things began to fall into place for the move to Thailand actually happening. He gave us an excitement to go, based on an assurance of the confirmations He’s given, though leaving our loved ones here will be unspeakably hard.
The trip to Israel was nearly abandoned, because now it seemed even more impossible. But God had worked it out that we’d purchased our tickets before “the call” came, and it seemed that He was asking us as a family to take a step of faith. Israel, the trip of a lifetime, did actually happen in April 2012; it only further prepared us for our mission in Thailand and it makes total sense why God worked it out that way. We had to trust Him like never before … and of course He provided in every way!
God seems to enjoy doing crazy things to turn our lives upside down, and to remind us of how incapable we are of predicting our own future. The confidence we can always have is that He is God, and that God always, always does what is best for His children. Another thing we could never have predicted is that the Loren Miller family was asked to come to Thailand as well, with the same mission! Being with our dear friends there is something we very much look forward to.
Step after step, God provided, and we have plenty of stories to tell you how. (The verse at the top of the page is a rhema God gave to us to strengthen us in following Him in each step.) Now we’re in the preparation process; our moving sale is over, the house is emptier, and we’re looking for a new one in Chiang Mai.
I just want to confirm God’s leading in my own life … if you know me, you know that Asia would have been last on my list of places I thought I’d go. I did have other places on my heart, places and people that I love very much. So I was never even open to the idea of Asia; I thought that, since God had never given me a specific burden for Asia, I didn’t have to give up my desire to not go there. ☺ Only in the fall/winter of 2010 was when He finally broke me and directly asked me to give it up, to be open to wherever He wanted to take me. And so for the first time, I did, thinking it was all over and would never happen, that all I had to do was surrender it. About a year later He showed me that He actually did want it to happen, and a month after that was when the call came.
The call to Thailand is one of the hardest things that’s happened to our family, but through it God has proved over and over His divine presence and guidance! Please pray for us in our mission there, that no matter what, God would be glorified in us.