We had been praying for future direction and vision from the time we were single and continued after we were married. We had each had the opportunity to take part in short-term mission trips in the past. Phyllis had taken several to India and I (Brian) had the privilege of spending a few weeks in Togo West Africa. The desire of our marriage was to glorify God with our lives, so we felt a continual nudge to pursue missions in a foreign context. Shortly after we were married, God allowed us to quit our full time jobs and serve Him in Santiago, Chile. We had the intent of only serving one year, but God continued to prompt us to keep walking forward. We pushed forward and were privileged to serve a second year. God had not given us a complete peace or confirmation about going as career missionaries so we had settled on the idea of year three in Chile as our next step, but then? Easter came.......and God changed things.......literally and figuratively!......this is the blog my wife wrote about it….
The Saturday before Easter, Brian and I were reading in Numbers 32 during our regular Bible reading time. The Reubenites and a couple other clans of the twelve tribes of Israel were about to reach the Promised Land along with Moses and those he had led out of Egypt. Shockingly to us, these couple of clans approached Moses and requested to stay East of the Jordan River BEFORE entering the Promised Land. Moses gave them permission to do this AS LONG AS they first crossed the Jordan River with all the Israelites and led the way in fighting for the Israelites to inhabit the Promised Land. Then, after the new land was conquered, the Reubenites and the other clans requesting would be permitted to return East of the Jordan and that would be their inheritance.
Now, after we had read all this, Brian and I sat discussing it. I never saw this coming, but he posed the question to me, "Are we like the Reubenites? Are we settling for security in a place we can see rather than fully embracing all that God has prepared and planned for us in the 'Promised Land?'"
I was speechless. The thought had never even entered my mind. So I wrote a prayer in my journal the next morning that said, "Lord, only YOU can truly know and answer the question. Are we like the Reubenites? Help us discern our hearts and our position! Not ONLY that, but please help us to embrace, welcome, and accept all that You have prepared and planned for us......WHEREVER that is." Easter was a beautiful celebration in Santiago. We went to church, as normal, but the couple that normally attends and translates for us was out of town. Brian and I have picked up enough Spanish that we can usually follow the Bible references in the sermon even when we can't understand the entirety of what the Preacher is saying. At one point, there was a reference to 1Corinthians 15, so we opened up our NIV translation and read the chapter. In a notebook, I recorded the verse that stuck out to me. It was verse 58, which says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Brian and I left church after the service was over and headed to another missionary's home for an Easter meal--American style. We had ham, potatoes, and all sorts of other goodies. We got back home sometime after 8:30 pm and started getting things ready for Monday. As we were preparing for our evening Bible reading, Brian surprised me and said, "Hey, can we talk a minute?"
"Sure," I responded, and he proceeded to get out his Bible. He opened to 1 Corinthians 15:58 and read the SAME verse that had stuck out to me during the morning's Easter message! He went on to share, "The verse seems to spell things out pretty clearly. It doesn't really seem negotiable to me. It says, ‘Give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord…’"
"So you mean you're ready for full time missions?" I inquired (not realizing at the time that I was projecting my own interpretation onto the verse......)
"Ready?" Brian mused, "No, but compelled to pursue it? Yes." He continued saying, "I'm not convinced that Chile is 'it' but giving ourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord IS......what is your thought, Phyllis?" My response was simply, "I am truly amazed at our God and how He works! I have been praying about our future, and I was convicted by the very SAME verse!"
This was our call into full time missions. The path however did not finish there. God had given us peace that He wanted us to pursue Him full time, but the location was not determined at that time. We kept walking forward in faith praying the God would reveal it in His time. We went into Candidate Seminar at ABWE as “open” meaning we did not know where we were going to serve. We had the opportunity to meet with many experienced missionaries and hear about opportunities all over the world. Phyllis and I talked and prayed through the many options. By the end of Candidate Seminar, we had narrowed it down to two options, going back to Chile or Papua New Guinea. We were fortunate enough to visit PNG for about five weeks in Nov.-Dec. of 2015. During that time, we were able to get a snap-shot of the many ministries that are going on there and opportunities how we can help. We prayed and sought counsel, and asked many to join in prayer with us regarding this decision. The long-awaited decision was made and we are pursuing the field of Papua New Guinea for our full-time ministry! It was no slight task to make the choice, but God has brought our family to a unified front on the matter. Jeremiah 6:16 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls....’." It had felt like a very long time we had been on that crossroads looking and praying, yet God’s timing is always best. We feel confident walking forward. He continues to give us both a peace about serving in PNG even though there are many unknowns.