And so the cat's out of the bag.
Last night, Tom shared with the youth group and his leaders, that we are going to be leaving our church in about a month. The word “leaving” always carries some heavy weight with it. There are lots of questions, wonderings and an expectation shift that takes place when this kind of news breaks. Whether we think about it or not, we don’t really expect things to change if there is no sign of change coming.
So, why are we leaving? Let me fill you in on a few things that have been happening in our lives. Ever since we moved to Colorado, we have been walking through a very specific season of discernment with the Lord. We have been asking questions about our purpose, our calling, and more specifically, our vocation. There will be many, many posts about this to come, but this particular one will be focusing on how we have walked down the path of discernment and made it to this point where we are leaving employment, selling our belongings and moving towards full-time long-term ministry in France. Obviously, this wasn’t a snap decision and there are a lot of factors that brought us to this point, and really, I feel like God has been preparing me for this calling my whole life. It was just one day I didn’t see it and the next day I did.
It is kind of like C.S. Lewis when he talks about his own conversion story. "When we set out I did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did." It seems so simple and non-dramatic, but there it is. There is just a slight shift in the atmosphere that is like a light bulb is switched on and all of a sudden you can see EVERYTHING. When we left for Cañon City, we had no idea what we were going to do with our lives, and, two hours later, when we pulled into the town, we knew we were called to be missionaries to France.
The reason we were going to Cañon City was to attend a regional conference for the Vineyard Church. The whole weekend, we were asking God for guidance, for confirmation, for open and closed doors. We received several words during prayer times which were very clear and on point which helped us as we were metaphorically shaking that light bulb, just to make sure that it really was working; that we were really and truly hearing correctly. By the end of the weekend, we had reached an altar point. We knew that our road would not look the same as it did before. The call to France had come and grabbed ahold of our hearts and we would not be the same.
After this experience, we returned home and were in a bit of a shock. What in the world do we do now?!?! We were eager to talk with trusted mentors and praying people who could speak into this call and into our lives. We believe in discerning in community, which means there is no way that we are just going to pick-up and move to France if we are the only people who think that God is calling us to do that. After meeting and praying with our discernment community over the next few months, we really felt affirmed. YES. God is calling you here. Now what?
Things started to get practical. We looked into missions agencies, talked to our church leadership, talked to our families. We filled in applications, met and spoke with key people to see what, more specifically, God was calling us to do. We went through a rather rigorous application process with Greater Europe Mission (GEM) and attended a candidate orientation week where they discerned, alongside us, if we were going to be the right fit for each other. We left that orientation, not as candidates, but as appointees to be missionaries to France with GEM.
Since that week, we have had many conversations with the leadership at our church about how we were going to walk this out. We have not felt in a great rush to leave or buy our one-way tickets tomorrow—as we did when we first went to the UK—because we have had a great time of ministry in CO and believe in what God is doing here. And that is what makes this all so hard. Our leaving has come down to the fact that when we encounter God’s call, we cannot stand still. We don’t need to run recklessly to grab hold of the destiny God has for us, but we do need to keep walking towards it out of obedience to Him. If we continued to stay, not only would we be standing still or possibly walking backwards, we would crossing the line into disobedience. We trust that God is leading us through every step of this process and most of the time, we don’t know what is next, but we are thankful that He does!
Through all of this, the hard bits and the dreamy bits, we have drawn closer to Jesus, which is really our ultimate goal in this life. So even if we are wrong, even if all of this goes totally pear-shaped, we haven’t lost anything because we are living in the fullness of Christ—Amen!
My next post, I will write about the ‘why’ of France, our heart for the people there and our hopes and dreams for ministry. For now, Tom is working hard to leave well and I am working hard to sell or give away most of our belongings before we close on our house in a month—yikes! Oh, and I still have those three lovely toddler boys, keeping me on my toes and growing like weeds before my very eyes.
If you are a praying person, please remember us in yours over the next month or so—we would appreciate it so much. We are really excited about what God is doing in France and we are eager to share with you and invite you into the process with us!