Five years ago last April, Jeremy and I took a trip to Abbotsford, British Columbia. We were invited to attend a week of vision casting with Mennonite Brethren Mission Services / International (MBMS/I). This was home for me, as I’d spent many years serving alongside this ministry in various capacities.
MUCH occurred that week… including a clear message from God that we were to return home and get rooted while waiting for further notice. (That’s another blog post 🙂
What also occurred is that I left Abbotsford with an altered sense of my purpose and passion in life.
I realized that I didn’t really want to live anywhere forever.
So what now?
God began to shape in me a desire to encourage and counsel missionaries serving on the field- in whatever capacity. I have been on teams, short and long, that disintegrated in our unity and vision due to the strains of being in a foreign country AND still getting to know each other. I’ve heard of marriages ending in divorce on the mission field. It’s tough! My heart began to lead me to this mission field. Giving families, teams, and marriages a place to share the tough stuff, objectivity in an “outsider”, a bridge still connecting them between their ministry and “home,” to validate that it’s tough, to celebrate the victories… I didn’t even know if a job like that existed.
Regardless, I spent my season of waiting getting involved with Foster children (and adopting them) and attaining my MS degree in Counseling- and finally, becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (which I’ve kept up with continuing education hours in the years since).
Then Black Forest Academy called.
“You are an answer to prayer! We need someone who can counsel staff (missionaries serving on the field), students (children of missionaries serving on the field), and sometimes their families (more missionaries serving on the field).”
REALLY? Could God truly be that ironic? (ha!)
In 2008 I went to a Barlow Girl / Jimmy Needham concert. As I left the concert that night it struck me that I should have (and wanted to) pray for Jimmy and his wife Kelly. I was already on my 2 hour drive home and didn’t have the opportunity. But since that moment, I have prayed for them often.. even dreaming of praying with the two of them (God let me intercede for them in my sleep? Awesome!)
Flash forward to now.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to have dinner with Jimmy, Kelly, and their lovely Lively. Jeremy, Matt, and Liz joined me on this adventure. We drove three hours to Morro Bay (the closest the Needhams would be to Fresno before leaving for Germany). We had a FANTASTIC time hanging out with them. I
shared my strange habit of dreaming prayers for them… and they didn’t change their minds about having us over for dinner!
Our conversations were all over the place, from tragedies we’ve experienced, to the joys and challenges of parenting, to the strange things Jimmy has been asked to autograph! We laughed, we… didn’t cry… but we did have a great time.We also enjoyed the power of their ministry… Jimmy’s bold proclamation of God’s Word through skilled music and Kelly’s support, prayer, and availability).
As we drove away that night I noticed how alive and refreshed I felt. It felt like… abundance. Perhaps even the abundance that Christ says he offers me? I quietly acknowledged that this evening will be a life highlight… but why?
Then it hit me.
I was encouraging and supporting missionaries. I was speaking into their lives, sharing God’s love and heart with them, a beautiful married couple and growing family… in the midst of an amazing service to His Kingdom’s work. It had never struck me before how my heart for families in the spotlight, for spouses in the spotlight… would fall into that same category of my heart for encouraging and loving missionaries.
A strange peace settled on me. This abundance I felt is to be mine always… as I live and breath the calling and wiring that God has given me. What satisfaction is found in living beneath the whispers of Jesus.
And I’ll get to do this every day at Black Forest Academy? Ahhhh!
P.S. If you aren’t familiar with Jimmy Needham’s music… become so. It’s amazing, Biblically grounded, bold and solid doctrine, sweet composition… and Jesus-loving all at once. Powerful! You can visit his website here or “like” him on Facebook here.