I remember when Chadwick and I were still in college, dating and growing in love. There were many exciting conversations about our future. Where would we end up? How many kids would we have? Where do we want to be in 10 years? There was one conversation that God had put on my heart, however, that I knew would be difficult to ask. So, with tears and hesitation I asked my then boyfriend:
“If God asks me to go on the mission field would you go with me?”
Chadwick answered that he would. Little did I know that about 16 years later, God would be calling both of us into the mission field.
While in college, I had the opportunity to learn more about missions through all the different short-term mission trips that were offered. While I wasn’t able to go overseas, I did experience a mission trip to San Francisco. My eyes and mind began to open to all the different ways people lived and experienced God around the world. That was my first taste of missions and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.
Fast forward about 10 years. I was now a stay at home mom of 3. We were in the Midwest and Chadwick was enjoying serving as youth pastor at Moundford Free Methodist church. My heart began to stir again for missions, but I didn’t feel like I could serve as a mom with three young children. Then our church offered a mission trip to the Philippines. We were able to arrange things so that I could go! So off I went. In my heart I was wondering how God would use this experience in our lives. Was this a beginning of a call to missions? I didn’t know for sure, but I wanted to find out. That experience opened my eyes, mind and heart even more to the call of God’s heart for the world.
“Who is like the LORD our God- the one enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the trash heap in order to seat them with nobles- with the nobles of his people.” Psalm 113: 1-8
A year later God placed a call on our hearts to adopt from Africa. God led us to a sweet little princess in a Congolese orphanage. We said yes to her and continued the long 4 year journey of bringing her home. Short version: We went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo two times and jumped into international travel as a couple. The dusty streets, crazy driving, foreign language and intense heat brought us closer to our daughter and closer to the call of God. She came home and after 2 years, our lives have settled.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:5-6a
We continued our prayer as a family, “God, how do you want to use us for your kingdom? How do you want to use our family? Our home? We are yours and offer ourselves to you for your kingdom’s work.”
Throughout 2017 God began teaching Chadwick and I both about Christian hospitality and using our home as a way to build relationships with those that needed a safe place to ask questions about God. I read one missionary story, called L’Abri, about the Schaeffers. They were missionaries in Europe, post WW2. By using their home, the practices of hospitality and creating a safe place for questions to be asked, many were led to Christ. Little did I know that 6 months later, we would be asked to consider moving to Europe to be missionaries as well.
That summer of 2017, at family camp, the speakers were Rev. Jerry and Jan Coleman. Jerry spoke in the evenings and Jan spoke in the mornings. Jan’s topic? Christian hospitality. I was immediately connected to everything she was saying, taking lots of notes and ordering the books she recommended. I felt like her heart for Christian hospitality mirrored what God had been teaching me. The excitement bubbled up in me as I began to see that God was not done teaching me about Christian hospitality. Jerry and Jan Coleman had previously been missionaries in Hungary for 17 Years and we found out later they’d begun in Gyor!
Little did I know that 4 months later, we would be asked to consider moving to Gyor, Hungary to become missionaries. God was preparing us for something we didn’t yet know was coming. 2017 was a year of preparation for how God was going to use our family.
“The thing about real life is that important events don’t announce themselves. Trumpets don’t blow, drums don’t beat to let you know you are going to meet the most important person you’ve ever met, or read the most important thing you are ever going to read, or have the most important conversation you are ever going to have or spend the most important week you are ever going to spend. Usually something that is going to change your whole life is a memory before you can stop and be impressed about it. You don’t usually have a chance to get excited about that sort of thing…ahead of time!”
-Edith Schaeffer, L’Abri p.53
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