We are truly blessed. We have three terrific children. We have an amazing partnership in our marriage. We had been gifted with careers in which we were able to make meaningful contributions. We love the Lord. We are thankful for our good health. And there is no greater country on this earth than our wonderful United States. Yet we have often found ourselves too preoccupied with the busyness of life to acknowledge the abundance of these great blessings. Our Adventure in Faith is a deliberate design to s-l-o-w down, acknowledge our God-given identity, and give back.
Our Lord and Father admonishes us to be positive and to put our eyes on all that is great and honorable. There is awesomeness all around, and we want to meditate in it. There is goodness all around, and we desire to harvest it. There is beauty all around and we want to marvel over it. There are unfamiliar cultures all around and we want to embrace them. There is a community of companionship all around and we want to immerse ourselves and offer encouragement. This Creation is an awesome Work in many, many ways. It is made possible solely for our enjoyment. EVERYone should ENJOY and CELEBRATE this AMAZING world as we meet, break bread, and serve one-another, side-by-side. In addition, as we approach the finale season of our lives on this earth, we recognize that our identity has been filtered largely by our careers. In these culminating years, we desire deeply for our identity to be in Christ and not in our jobs. But we weren't thinking big enough; we were limiting our God. In addition to a long overdue identity shift, with a BIG God it would be possible to enjoy His big world even more and live an even bigger life.
It occurred to us, We love spending time together; camping, crafts, and travel. And we love meeting and helping people. Conviction is the human response to a sovereign call from God. It starts with a perspective change and ends with a uniquely deep, compelling call to action. It took us a little while, but we finally figured it out.
A hobby becomes a conviction: This is what we discovered. There is a demand for husband and wife teams who are fully mobile, are willing to live an unscripted life, and able to respond to remote ministry needs wherever necessary. But we would have to leave our jobs. It was one of those "Aha" moments in life: God works his purposes through circumstance and conviction. And once convicted, this passion moves you according to God's direction. Bingo! Jesus did not intend his followers to spend their retirement playing shuffleboard and bingo, we believe.
"So even in old age, and gray hairs, O Lord, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your strength to another generation, Your power to all those who are to come." [Psalm 71:18] Skip Heitzig calls it leaving a "Godprint," a lasting, God-centered, positive impression on those whom you meet, no matter your age or your status. Preferring an adventure of faith and risk and service over one of convenience and caution and complacency, Deb and I recognized a Call into part-time ministry. WooHoo! How could we possibly be more blessed! God is not finished with us yet; He is not finished with any of us yet! He has been out in front, paving the road for us with past experiences and relationships.
It started with THREE simple words. We were blessed with these gifts and it is these we felt most equipped to share, to "Encourage. Serve. Lead..." These biblical tenets appeared to us to be so necessary in today's world; we thought. If they are truly Gifts, then God has given them to us with the expectation that we will should use them.
As we immersed ourselves more and more in opportunities of service to schools, camps, training centers, conference centers, orphanages, and to others, we realized that the world was more desperate for hugs and listening ears, than leadership. The reality of this prompted a tweak in our mission statement to: "Encourage. Serve. Love...".
But! ...we wanted to travel and encounter America in the process! Is that being too stingy? We love experiencing new places and people and cultures and geographies and history and ... all of God's wonderful creation. So we added a fourth element, "...Explore."
These FOUR words became and continue to be our family Mission Statement; they defined our heart's desire and Purpose. We had been favored to be able to blend all four of these throughout our careers. It would be or privelege to take "it" on the road.
But something was missing ... yet at the same time, was right in front of us! For this next season of our lives, as we began to down-size our possessions and reduce our lifestyle to the basic necessities of a life of service AND that could fit into a motorhome, this Gospel passage became clear:
“You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, ...then come and follow me.” (Mark 10:21).
Mark's lesson here includes giving up the many things of the world that we have accumulated over the years in order to focus on that life with which the Lord has graced us. Those distractions and idols dismissed, the physically and emotionally simple lifestyle will allow us proper focus.
That's when we added a FIFTH and final word to our Mission Statement. We felt it extremely relevant in the 2014 and 2015 calendar years:
"Few things are needed -- indeed only one."
turning passion to action
It was time for us to step forward. After a lot of research and prayer (and more research) (and more prayer), we elected to take our mission on-the-road. We approached two ministry groups: SOWERs (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready), and the Disaster Relief Team (USA) for Samaritans' Purse. After a lengthy enrollment process, we were excited to hear in July 2015 we had been accepted by SOWERs. We registered immediately to start with them in January 2016. Then came the hard part ... counting the days until January 2016!