This week ABWE International formally announced that Nancy and I are changing our ministry from leading the Southern Africa region to being the Regional Director of West South Asia. It’s been an amazing journey, and one that we’d like to share with you more intimately as we hope you’ll continue supporting us as ministry partners and faithful prayer warriors.
The journey leading up to this change, at times, felt a bit like a roller-coaster ride. Slow, then fast, with heartstopping movements and a couple of corkscrews thrown in along the way. It’s all still very new and there are questions yet to be answered about the days ahead, however, we are very excited about this new role and ministry opportunity. So, here are a few details for now.
Our Roller-Coaster Ride Of Obedience
About this time last year, we started feeling restless and we didn’t know why. We loved our life in South Africa. We loved the people, our ministry, our home, our friends…everything was good.
So…why this feeling? Were we discontent? (Because I’m pretty sure the Bible calls that sin.) Was this what everyone refers to as a “mid-life crisis”? (Nobody wants to admit to that…but we are about that age!) We weren’t unhappy, we just sensed God was up to something and we wanted to be obedient. We honestly weren’t looking for a change in our ministry…and then suddenly, we were.
One day, a long-time friend and leader at ABWE, Harry Gebert, approached us with a need in his region of the world, South Asia. At first, we didn’t give it much thought as we felt like we were right where God wanted us to be — in South Africa. Then, without even intending to, we started considering a ministry change that would soon change EVERYTHING!
What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do?
Now, we can see how God was using several factors in our lives to redirect us, but when this all first started, it was hard even to admit to ourselves that we felt fidgety and spiritually restless. Looking back, it was a lot like 20 years ago when Tom had a job he loved in Ohio, Nancy was a stay-at-home mom with our four daughters in tow, and we were happily living the “America Dream.” That’s when God changed EVERYTHING the first time, and we accepted His call to full-time cross-cultural ministry, packed up our girls and all our belongings, and moved to South Africa to be church planters. Our first big “drop” on the roller coaster of obedience!
Like riding any huge roller coaster, it can be scary. At the beginning of this process, we agreed as a couple to pray and not tell a soul what we were thinking about, as we desperately wanted and needed to hear from God first. After diligently praying together, we approached a small group of trusted mentors, as well as our family and pastor, to pray with us as we began a series of deeper conversations with Harry and his wife, Jan. That’s when God revealed His plan.
As it turns out, for three years they had been praying and looking for a Regional Director for West South Asia. And guess what? We were the answer to those prayers. While we were open to anything God wanted us to do, God clearly laid this part of the world on our hearts, and although we never went looking for a new ministry, our new ministry found us.
Along For The Ride!
Our family, pastor, churches, mentors, and ABWE leaders alike, all agreed the position was a good fit. God confirmed His call to this new region in so many ways…all we needed to say was yes. And we did!
In April, we visited the West South Asia region and met the people we will be working with. Praise the Lord, our hearts united with these new teammates. We also began to survey a possible place to live. (Please forgive us if some of this sounds vague and void of names and specific locations, however, we’re already beginning to operate in a new state of disclosure for security reasons.)
When God Calls, God Provides
The remaining months of 2019 will be a time of transition for us. We’ll be coming and going from the states, moving in and out of our new region, and we’ll also begin extensive training, all in an effort to prepare for working and living in limited access, Muslim-majority countries. We also need God to raise-up new ministry partners and additional financial support.
We’ve no doubt that God will provide. In fact, He already has in some ways. For instance, we put our house in South Africa on the market. Within a week, one person phoned, came to see it, and bought it…with cash. (God’s provision during a time when the market was slow!) At some point in the future, we will establish a home in the area of our new region, but for now, we’re taking it one step at a time. It kind of feels like that frantic climb to the top of the roller-coaster…click, click, click… Hold On!
What God Says He’ll Do…He’ll Do
We are grateful for words of truth, like those in 1 Thess. 5:24, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Although this passage is not speaking directly about one’s call to a new mission field, it is a wonderful description of who God is and what He can and does do.
We love South Africa, our ministry, friends, and family that are there. It’s been an amazing place to have invested the last 18 years of our lives! And now? Well…now there is a new place to call home, unreached people to reach, and new heights to climb. As our ministry partners, that means you get to go with us. Are you ready for the ride?