Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Journey

Why?  Why in the world would we as a family decide to pick up our lives here in Canada and transplant ourselves into another country on another continent?  The answer can be very short or somewhat longer.  The short answer is this; We are following God and trying to do what He has asked us to do.  The longer version is as follows:

Our journey into missions began for me during high school.  I was involved in our youth group throughout junior and senior high and during the summer of 1994 we went on a short mission trip to Guadalajara, Mexico.  We went down to work at a Bible camp there for two weeks.  Since we did not speak Spanish at all we worked doing physical tasks; digging in water lines, ditch digging, grounds keeping as well as becoming involved with the campers by playing basketball and soccer with them.  It was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work and now that I have many more years behind me I can see that even then God was working to soften my heart about the possibility of going overseas as a career missionary.

The next significant thing in my journey to missions was another mission trip that I went on when I was 16 during the summer of 1996.  That summer I went with Teen Missions International to the country of Ukraine where we worked for 6 weeks doing construction on a church building in a small village there.  In my previous post I mentioned the boot camp that I went through as a part of that summer.  Yes, the boot camp was difficult and trying but it was also one of the highlights of that summer for me.  Our team bonded fairly well during that time and I look back on boot camp with fond memories.  Although I didn't recognize this fact at the time, God was continuing to shape my heart and move me towards full time missions. 

As I worked through high school and thought about my future I decided that I was supposed to be a pastor.  After graduation I enrolled at Peace River Bible Institute in Sexsmith, AB in the pastoral program there.  My first year of school there (1997) was when I met Karen.  PRBI was small enough that if you went there you knew everyone else who was there also.  This didn't mean that you were best of friends with everyone but you did at least know who everyone was.  This was the status of Karen and my relationship throughout most of that first year.  We did begin hanging out more with each other at the end of the year but that was it.  That summer I worked as a councilor at Bear Lake Bible Camp and did not think much of Karen throughout the summer.  Near the end of that summer I heard that Karen's brother had been killed in an automobile accident and I did call her and talk with her at that time.  Partly because of that conversation Karen was on my mind as school began again that fall.  We began hanging out together on the first day of school and we haven't ever looked back.  We were engaged the day before we went back to school for our 3rd year of schooling and that kicked off a very exciting time in our lives.

The first Sunday after school began that fall we attended church at Grace Bible Fellowship church in Sexsmith and on that Sunday morning the Toews, missionaries with Mission Aviation Fellowship, were sharing about the ministry that they had been a part of for the last 4 years.  That service changed the course of my life.  I describe the experience as the closest that I have ever come to having God audibly speak into my ear.  The Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart so clearly that if it had been an audible voice in my ear the message would not have been any clearer.  The message was that God was asking me to follow Him and I was to do this by serving through mission aviation.  It has always been interesting to me that it was not the pictures of airplanes or remote and exotic locations that God used to speak to me.  It was the eyes of the children in those same pictures that the Holy Spirit used to call out to me. 

By the time the service was completed I was 100% convinced that this was something I was supposed to do.  I was very apprehensive later that evening as I approached Karen and asked her to come on a walk with me.  As I mentioned, we had been engaged for 2 weeks at this time.  I knew that if I shared this dream with her and she said, "I can't do that." we would have to end our relationship and go our separate ways.  I was blessed for a second time that day when she turned to me and said, "I know.  God was speaking to me as well, telling me that this was something that He was asking you to do, and that I needed to go with you."  This was incredible to hear and was also the first of many confirmations that we received of this call on our lives.  I went in that week and changed from the pastoral program into the missions program and finished in in 2001.

That day was September 12, 1999 and in the years since then we have been working towards the goal of serving with Mission Aviation Fellowship.  I completed my private pilot license in the summer of 2004 and earned my commercial license early in 2005.  Shortly after that I earned my flight instructor rating and since then I have been building my flight time and experience through several flight instructing jobs. Our calling has always been to serve in mission aviation and it has been exciting for us as a specific country of service has been whittled down.  Today we are expecting to serve in either Chad or Tanzania on the continent of Africa and are hoping to know the destination very soon.  September this year will be 12 years since the day of our calling and we are hoping that we will be very close to leaving at that time.  We require full support before we leave and right now support is at 53% of our monthly support and 18% of our outgoing support.  It has been exciting to see God answer prayer and see how He has provided support already and we look forward to seeing how He will bring it up to 100%.

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. "
                                                             I Thessalonians 5:23&24 (esv)

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