Jul 08, 2019 • Written by International Partner
I graduated from college and two months later began the greatest journey of my life. Four airplanes, an overnight train, and thirty-six hours took me to a place I never would have imagined I could call home.
I spent the summer teaching English in what is considered one of the “four ovens” of my host country because of the high temperatures and humidity. My days were spent teaching elementary educational methodology to local teachers on the fourth floor of an unairconditioned concrete building.
The remainder of that year had me in three layers of winter clothes in the far northern corner of my host country teaching spoken English at a private university. Both had me completely out of my comfort zone, but to date it remains one of my favorite years of life!
At one point during that first year of living overseas, a veteran teacher came to observe one of my classes. As she left she handed me a card with the following quote:
“Finding one’s purpose with God can be a strange and mysterious journey. Or it can be as simple as asking for a task and then watching your desire for that task grow within you. Problem is, most of us forget to ask God to fill us with a fervent spirit to serve Him. Then years later, we wake up and realize we had our life. We made our small choices...our safe choices. But somehow we missed the richness of following our God down an uncharted path.”
I was shaken!
What was the purpose God had for my life? Did I have the courage to ask Him for a task and then faith to follow Him? I honestly wasn’t sure, but during that year I hesitantly began to ask for a task and the faith to follow Him wherever He decided to take me.
As God does, He answered.
It has been 15 years since I began to ask the Lord for a task, 9 of those years spent in our host country. Most of the years have been in a city with nearly 9 million people. Having learned the language coupled with a fairly decent understanding of the culture, the “task” God had given me was comfortable while still remaining exciting. Aside from being away from family stateside, it rarely felt like a sacrifice.
Two years ago my husband and I began to ask for a redefining of the task the Lord has for us. We were in need of a project that would allow us to engage with one of the least reached people groups left in the world.
As the Lord began to answer we found ourselves driving four hours across the mountains to a small town. As we drove past small villages without indoor plumbing (yet cell phone towers and professional grade basketball courts) we found ourselves asking if we could really make a move of this magnitude.
It would mean relocating to a town 100 times smaller than our previous city, no school for our children, learning a third language and culture, and no place to buy cheese (you laugh, but we have learned the importance of access to good cheese!).
As we wrestled with His call, wrestled with the task He was placing before us, we passed four lost souls prostrating themselves towards the temple we were also headed to. They had likely been pilgriming for days, camping on the side of the road, and would continue for at least another two days before arriving at the temple. Both my husband and I were overcome with an intense brokenness that perhaps we have never felt before. It was undoubtedly Spirit given. And in that moment the idea of moving to this new town with all the unknowns was not such a huge, unsafe decision anymore. It was an adventure that would allow us to see the majesty of our Father in ways we never could have imagined.
Miraculously, thanks largely to the faithful prayers of so many in Appleton, this little mountain town is now the place we call home.
Our new home has brought with it many wonderful changes for our family. The mountains are breathtaking and a natural stress-reliever, homeschooling our children has proven to be very rewarding, and our new work is fulfilling and exciting. But in this year of transition we have also seen changes in the climate of our host country. Changes that have made living in a creative access country both challenging and stressful.
You may have noticed that in this post I have not told you who I am, the name of our host country, nor the name of where we specifically live. These decisions have been highly calculated because the specifics of our lives posted on the internet could put our ability to live in our host country in jeopardy. Checkpoints and countless cameras record our every move, random calls and visits from the police mark our days, and threats of being interrogated regularly sit in the back of our minds. These are the physical battles, but it is the spiritual battle that keeps us up at night. We are truly living on the frontlines of the greatest spiritual battle we’ve ever faced.
God has given us a task. Truthfully, it’s not always an easy one. But it’s not one I would change either. It is through this task that we have experienced “the richness of following our God down an uncharted path.”