June 29, 2012

it.is.well.

Friends,

After spending much time in prayer, and seeking counsel from our pastors and other friends and family, we wanted to let you know that we have resigned our position as missionary candidates to Lyon, France.  We have been trying to live somewhere between the two phrases that our Pastor speaks so frequently:  “Where God calls, He provides”, and “Never doubt in the dark what He told you in the light”.  After walking this journey the best that we knew how, it seemed increasingly clear that God chose to not provide adequate partners to enable us to go to France.  By the numbers, we were only at 16% even after 16 months of seeking partners in this ministry to the people of Lyon.  And so the decision was made to live within the reality of the situation.

For a while we had become concerned that God had not been blessing the effort to raise a team of prayer and financial partners for our upcoming ministry in Lyon.  We prayed like never before, tried each suggested method, having been to ‘boot camps’ on how to build partners, met people one-on-one--sometimes in our home and other times in their home, we studied others’ successes, blogged, Facebook’ed, sent consistent newsletters, prayer updates, presented the ministry to churches, District Conferences, Sunday Schools, sent broad-sweeping letters of appeal, hinted, shouted, sang, danced, made the most of every impromptu meeting, and finally wrote hand-written cards with a pretty specific ‘ask’.  No matter what we tried, there were very limited results.  We found that most of the support that we did have came independent of any efforts that we have done, and more from people just responding on their own.

Last month, we asked for counsel on some really hard questions:  How long do we go before it’s time to assume that God is not blessing the efforts, and as such, this must not be the direction that we’re supposed to be going?  How long is too long?  Is it the total package amount of support needed that is a hindrance to people joining the team?  Is it our previous financial troubles after the bakery "fiasco"?  Is it some other previous ministry issue?  Is it people’s perception that France is only a dream vacation spot?    How does quitting in this situation honor God?  Are there other questions that we should be asking?

We have been told that perhaps we are in the ‘perfect storm’ of fundraising, and considering the human side, we've thought that maybe it is about the economics of the well-known financial woes of Elkhart County, raising funds for Europe in general rather than some other perceived ‘needier’ country, the particularly high support schedule, and possible perception that our main focus of worship ministry not being ‘missionary’ enough.  Or maybe not.  I'm not sure we'll really ever know.  

Our hearts are still with the people of Lyon, Lyon City Team, and the International Christian Community of Lyon (ICCL) and we still really love the ReachGlobal organization, and all the amazing people that are a part of it, but it just appears that God has other plans for us.  I think we just needed a lot more wonderfully faithful people to sacrificially give and pray.  We know that the same obedience to the radical call to uproot our family and move to Lyon must also be willing to submit to a radical change of those plans based on His leading and provision.

We are, as you can imagine, heart-broken.  But now, we’re mostly driving around the slow-moving “why”, and have decided to cruise at “Trust His Heart” as Chris and I used to sing so often.  It’s interesting that we keep coming back to that theme in our lives and ministry.

Our kids have been amazing during this entire journey to Lyon, and as we've struggled to discern where He is currently leading.  I am in awe each day of their own vibrant, deep faith and passion for Jesus.  They are an inspiration to us as parents.  They have endured much during this time, and have proven to be amazingly resilient.  So proud.

We have had some wonderful feedback so far from the few that have known what has been going on lately: 

  • “there is a reason, probably known only to God, and we must trust Him and even thank Him”
  • “I have lived long enough to be able to look back and see how some of my greatest disappointments were not that, but rather His Appointments”
  • “it is less the place and more the posture that counts as we follow him as disciples”
  • “while we don’t understand why this has happened, you have to live in the reality of your situation”
  • “I can trust the Hand that presses me, and finding (eventually) some comfort in knowing that He has purpose and meaning for me under His weight.
  • "I pray for strong faith for you. Faith--obviously--is the enemy's main target, because it is what gets us through."
  • "Your obedience to uproot your family & leave a life you love shows a devotion to God, reminding me of Abraham & his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. God wanted to know if he was willing, & he was."
  • "I always knew during our support raising that even if we never hit the field, God was still using the time to refine us and teach us important things that would change us forever no matter the outcome."
  • "He knows how to guide and lead us though his ways can be impenetrable to our finite minds.  It is never easy to come to terms with a decision to change course when convictions for a certain direction have been so strong.  I have never doubted that conviction in your regard and still have the certainty that the Lord has been calling you to serve him in a special way." 

Those thoughts, my friends, could preach!  And they do...to us, as they help soothe the blow, and help us focus on the important things and not on ourselves.

So, we say thank you for your support of us as a family, and for following along on the journey.  You have been a blessing to us!

Can we challenge you to consider partnering with someone heading to the mission field, near or far?  These are tough times to raise support, and there are good people out there struggling to bring in the needed funds to   serve Him as they've been called.  How About Matt and Kimberly (London)?  How about Tom and Tanya (Czech Republic) ?  How about Greg and Wende (Lyon, France)?  How about Anastasia (Lyon, France)?  How about Todd and Nicole (Kenya, Africa)?  How about Mitch and Sarah (Chiang Mai, Thailand)?  How about Scott and Elaine (Rome, Italy)?  These (and so many others like them) are wonderful people who need your help.

We leave you with a clip of "It is Well" that Morgan sent to us the other night.  (Remember what I said about having amazing kids?)  She's right, It is well.  We are at peace.  

video

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