January 1st, 2014 rolled around and I could see the excited fire in John’s eyes blaze up again. This is a familiar site to me, and so we proceeded to lay out all of our thoughts once more about our future. What does God have for us? What is He saying? We want more of Him, deeper depths, rivers of life, a life of fullest surrender! It has been a constant dance of asking, listening, receiving, waiting, living life, asking, staying, digging deeper, listening, dip, twirl, jump – all together in three strands.
Since before we got married, we knew we were after an abandoned life with God. It’s the reason we could get married, and we knew that He had given us both promises and visions of missions and ministry. We could see us doing it together, in partnership – what a gift! I see the two years since our marriage began as an incubator, a hiding in God’s hands, a preparation. A place to be surrounded by family and sweet church as we built up our marriage, needing lots of grace. A call to dig deeper for fullest life in Jesus here and now, and a promise of a life deeper still. To believe for the now and for the “to come,” which for us, looks different than the now.
I have had to sort through a lot of thoughts on missions, “sending,” “going,” and what I really believe about it in the past few years. I’ve known since 10th grade that the Father was calling me to “full-time ministry” – it was one of the first times I felt the Holy Spirit tangibly and undoubtedly – but what would that look like? Pieces would come to light over time, like my love with other cultures and how they each hold a special place in God’s heart, a special place of who God is (learning God is not American, nor primarily English-speaking).
As I have mulled over all of this, and as we have discussed with each other what this pulling in our hearts is, and what it is going to really look like in fruition, I have come to know a few things for sure. I know that Father God has called us to a life of full-time ministry, and it was His purpose to bring us together to be laid-down lovers for Him as one. We are stronger as a cord of three (Ecc. 4:12) We both see other cultures (many) and are holding our hands open for God to give us the who, what, where, and when, when the time is right. We see different seasons with different people groups. We love people of other cultures, and want to minister well cross-culturally. We want to be trained up to do so with power and pure love, for Jesus’ glory, for sons and daughters to come home.
I have also been convinced that missions is a position of the heart. It is not exclusively a call overseas. I do not believe Jesus meant for “regular life” and “missions” to be two separate spheres occasionally overlapping like a Venn Diagram. Missions is when we love Jesus so much and accept His love for us so simply, that we cannot help but see each beating heart around us as desperately needing of His love, too. We get to spread it, share it, smile it, give it, live it. We get to be conduits of pure love! Serving and sacrificing your time and efforts does not feel so costly when we get to be a part of what He’s already doing.
It does not come in a leaflet tract, a salvation bracelet, or Christian Books, though those are great tools when partnered with the Holy Spirit’s moving! It comes when you emerge from the one-track mind of getting through your own day, and look an actual person in the eyes. Being willing to be moved. Being willing to be inconvenienced. It is not limited to a geographical location, nor a 2-week mission trip. If you believe in Jesus, you are on the mission trip called Life!
John has a gifting of evangelism, faith, and zeal, and a particular love for the Islamic world. I have a gifting of evangelism, receiving prophecy through dreams and visions (Acts 2:17), and discernment, and a particular love for the middle-east and eastern Europe. We know the Father loves to give good gifts for our joy and for His glory! Both of us can see ourselves among many different cultures, on a nomadic ministry journey like Paul to encourage local believers, spread the Gospel in word and deed, and to be reapers of the harvest that is ready (Matt. 9:37-38).
I know that I see John and I getting lower still, pushing deeper still, getting hungrier still. We want to lose our life so we can find it fully in Him (Matt. 10:39). We want to leave our fishing boats, our nets, and follow Him around. We want to sacrifice it ALL to do His work every day, to stop for the one, and believe for the multitudes!
So once 2014 came around, we did the whole “what does this year look like for us?” followed by a healthy side dish of “I can’t do normal anymore!” and a dash of “IS THIS THE YEAR GOD SENDS US??” (Ok – maybe it was mostly the latter!) We started praying more fervently about our call, asking for vision, for confirmation, and for direction. We started looking for opportunities and praying over each one.
In May, after much prayer, we felt confident that we should apply to Harvest School, which is a missionary training school through Iris Global. John attended the school in 2010, prior to our relationship’s beginning. He has since had a love for Iris, their core values, and how they approach missions. It’s beautiful. Iris hosts 2 schools each year at their mission base in Pemba, Mozambique, with as many as 300 students from around the world. The school is just one part of the base, which also includes a baby house, a kids home, and a Pastor Training School for locals to be built up into leaders and sent out into the region to spread the Gospel, start churches, and further meet needs. As students, we’ll be surrounded by all of these ministries and will be able to serve through them as well.
The story of the application process (from June to, well, just last week) deserves its own post and set of thoughts that I think are worth sharing. But what we are so excited to announce now is that we have been accepted to the school, and are gearing up our life to head to Mozambique for a time of intentional training, asking, and listening. This will be a place where we can share our journey, gearing up for Harvest School and beyond.
Thank you Jesus for your abundant love and extravagant plan for us!