My wife and I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Our best friends are there, family and family friends, and the church homes we grew up in. It was home. We even owned a home and loved it but, we wanted more.
To clarify, we were both satisfied with our living situation, our small home, two old cars, and more friends than we could cram into our house, but there was something in our spirits that was hungry for more of God; to know Him more and to be used by Him in even greater ways.
Several factors lead to these desires:
Reading the Bible was the main one. It contains stories of peoples encounters with the Lord, their deep relationship with Him, and even the sufferings they went through for His name. (Romans 5:3-5) Their testimonies were drawing us to want to experience the Living God the way people did in the Bible. On top of that, we started meeting people whose testimonies, stories, encounters, and ministries were reflective of these very things we were reading about.
One particular couple I had become friends with oozed Jesus out of their mouths, actions, hearts, eyes, prayers, love, and ministry. Just being around them made me feel closer to Jesus. They helped elevate my belief that God really was the God of the impossible and I wanted to know more.
All that to say, we wanted to be around them so we decided that we would go with them on a one month mission trip to Asia that they took every year with small teams of people. We wanted to watch, glean, learn, and help them with their ministry. The kicker, though, was that we would have to quit our jobs to do it. It wasn’t going to work out with our job situations to take off for a whole month. My wife was quite pleased at that thought because she was unhappy at her work but I had massive reservations. I loved my job! So we spent a whole year praying, worrying, debating, praying, crying, praying etc…
Finally, we decided to take the plunge. So in August of 2013, in fear and trembling, we left our home, moved to Nashville to attend an amazing school of ministry, and headed to Asia the following May. (Now, I would love to share more about our experience at the School of Supernatural Life at Grace Center in Nashville,TN but there isn’t enough room in this article. I’ll just say that it played an AMAZING role in helping us understand the depth of the love of God and understanding the “supernatural life” that is available to all of His children.)
Long story short, Asia was amazing but hard. We loved the ministry but felt like fish out of water culturally. This particular ministry was everything we hoped for but the geographical location itself was a big shock to this southern boys system… in more ways than one. We met some amazing people and had some awesome experiences but we were so thankful to be on a plane back to hamburgers, air conditioning, paved roads, deodorant, order, etc… I’ll never complain about American driving again.
We left with many mixed emotions. Mainly the confusion of what to do now. We left everything for this one trip, hoping and expecting that it would lead us to the next step in our lives. Now we were going back to…??… with no jobs, no direction, no clue what we were supposed to do next. Questions like, “did we get this wrong, did we make the right decision, what were we thinking” began to invade.
To shorten an even longer story, we stopped in Europe on our way “home” to visit with friends. One particular visit in Germany led us to a meet a pastor at a church in Ramstein. Over the past year we stayed in touch and in May of this last year I was offered a job as an Associate Pastor at this church. It's not the “gun slinging”, “wild west”, in the deepest, darkest parts of the world, Jim Elliot style way I had envisioned myself going into five years ago, but it is the perfect cross-cultural transition for our family right now, and exactly where God wants us to be for the next season of our lives. In many ways its even better than we could have “asked or imagined” (Eph. 3:20), which we never would have known about if we hadn’t taken the “plunge.”
The Bible says, “the righteous shall be bold as lions.” (Prov. 28:1) I can’t say we felt bold in many parts of our journey the past three years but we are “cultivating” boldness, which is actually leading to more boldness! Cultivating boldness is choosing to believe that God is for us, has a better plan than our own, and taking steps of faith in line with His will. It doesn’t mean picking up everything and moving, but even in small steps, its choosing to be bold in the face of fear and moving towards the things God calls us to. Sometimes that’s even just as simple as talking to someone God is putting on your heart. (Which sometimes feels more scary than moving across the world!)
I have been extremely encouraged by testimonies left on this site, and I hope our story encourages someone else, even ever so slightly, to take a step of faith. Thanks for reading!