All that to say B and I have had a lot to pray about, mull over, and give to the Lord over this past year. We feel God is asking something big of us...but it's either not time yet, or it may look different down the road. We're not sure.
Last year, when Brent was laid off from his architecture job, our lives were flipped inside out. Not only did we have a lot of time together, but we had a lot of time to think about our lives and how we believed this one circumstance would forever change who we are. To say B had a lot of time on his hands is sort of an understatement. He did a lot of thinking, evaluating his life as an architect and provider, and how God could possibly use this experience to bring HIM glory. B was approached by our Missions Pastor at church who encouraged him to attend Perspectives. Ever heard of it? According to the Perspectives website:
Perspectives is an intensive 15 week course aimed at helping believers from all walks of life see how they can get threaded into God’s story of redeeming people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself. From Genesis to the prophets, Jesus Christ to the early church, and Constantine to today, you will see how God has been moving, how the global Church has responded, and what the greatest needs in world evangelism remain today. It isn’t a class about missions, but a course on how every believer can be intimately woven into the story of God using His people to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.
Since B was in flux, he decided this class would be really good to attend. If anything, it would help him to better understand missions and help us to be better plugged in at our church (our church has a strong emphasis on missions). When B informed me of his decision to participate in the class, I laughed and said, "I hope you don't think we're going to become missionaries just because you're learning about them." I obviously need to learn to allow my inner monologue to filter my thoughts before I verbalize them.
While they say this class isn't about missions, most people who have completed the class either go to the mission field, equip others to go, or send missionaries through financial support. The speakers are amazing, and by the end, you really get the whole for lack of a better word perspective of how great the need is for many across the world to hear about Jesus. There are over 2500 tribal groups who have never heard the gospel. That is huge! That is approximately 140 million unreached people who still have never heard the name of Jesus, many of whom are located in the 10/40 window.
It's hard for me as an American to grasp that. We live in a country with a church on virtually every corner, the freedom to worship without persecution, and most people (even if they don't believe in Him) have heard the name of Jesus and know what He did on the cross.
After weeks of B attending Perspectives, we both felt God moving in our hearts. We felt that we had a responsibility with the knowledge we received, coupled with how clear scripture is on sharing God's word with all the nations. We felt that we should take the steps to make connections with missions organizations and let God open and close doors as He should see fit. About seven months into B's unemployment, we began applying to a couple of missions organizations, and shortly thereafter B got a job with his current architecture firm. At that point, we didn't feel God saying 'no', but more of a 'wait'. Not because B had a job and now we no longer desired missions, but we wanted to explore what missions would look like for our family. We decided we would continue to be obedient by pursuing missions, but locally for now, until it became clear when/if we were to go. We felt like what better way to start than by living it out now, on our own 'turf' so to speak.
So, what does it mean to pursue missions locally? We recently joined a small group along with other Perspectives alumni and are going through a curriculum called The Global Life which is a year long curriculum designed to help people live out a missions-minded lifestyle. It is a 3-2-1 module...basically, our family spends 3 hours a week in God's word, 2 hours per week with internationals or non-believers, and 1 hour a week as a team (our group actually meets for 2 hours). Our particular group is fairly eclectic: we have a couple who are former missionaries to Malaysia, a single young woman from Indonesia, two single gals in their 30's, a missions pastor, another single woman in her 50's, and our family of four. We include our children as much as we can so they can see us in action and know that they are very much a part of what mommy and daddy are doing.
Each week we meet as a team, study God's word, discuss how we are making connections in our community and explore how missions looks for each of us. It's incredible to be in a room with so many people who are so burdened for others to hear the truth, but more than anything, people who are intentional about building friendships and relationships, caring for others, and allowing God to open up doors in conversations as He sees fit.
Because of this change in our life, and after much prayer, we decided to try homeschooling our children. Our thought was that we wanted to see how homeschooling would look for our family, work out the kinks, and find a routine that suited us best now, while on our home 'turf' rather than wait until if/when we were on the mission field--which could be an added stress while navigating life. Of course there is the very real possibility that we are to remain here...for now at least, it seems clear we are to stay. Either way, we are okay with God's leading. More than anything we desire to be obedient, and live out a life that is missions minded in the here and now. B and I feel convicted that if we can't live it out here in our own community, then we have no business going overseas.
What does that mean for our family? It means that we sacrifice a bigger house with a bedroom for each kid, so we can live near the Bosnian families that flank either side of our home. It means we stay in the neighborhood we've been in these past eight years so we are closer to the refugees a few blocks away, the couple down the street who we have built a friendship with, and the bus route to downtown where the passengers know B by name. It means we live in our urban neighborhood so we can be closer to downtown, where we frequent the coffee shop that attracts a particular group of people who are searching for answers to life in all the wrong places.
For the past several months, missions has been our new normal...
This call is so far out of my league times a thousand. If I do this on my own, I will fail. It defies all of my previous ideas of what missions is or looks like. And to express how inadequate I feel doesn't even scratch the surface . Right now I am holding onto HIM and begging HIM for strength. But I do believe one thing is for sure...God does not call the 'equipped'. He equips the called. And I am clinging to that.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”