Blog Introduction

This blog is the story of how my husband and I faced the illness and death of two of our children. Each blog post is essentially a chapter in the story, so in order to truly understand it, you are going to benefit by starting at the beginning.
I hope you find our story touching, and in some way find comfort and hope through it as you face your own storms in life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finding a Covering

Rob returned from his two week trip to Slovenia with enough information to get us started.  We began planning.  We knew beyond any doubt that God was calling us to be missionaries in Slovenia, and as such, began seeking out the designed channels He would have us use to get there.
Conventional methods meant going through our church leadership and following the denominational means of becoming a missionary, but this would mean four years of Bible college to become a minister before we would even be considered ready to go.  But becoming a minister was not what we felt we were to do.  God wanted us to go as ordinary, regular people; to assist the missionary already there and to minister one-on-one with our neighbors and any others we could develop a relationship with.  He wasn't calling us to lead a church; He was calling us to be His church to those who were lost, and to gently guide them to His love.

I remember how it felt when we realized our own church would not be sending us to the mission field. I felt completely deflated, defeated, and in some respects betrayed.  Rob and I had been Christians all our lives, were devoted to God, faithfully involved in our church, sought to follow His leading in our lives, yet our leadership did not fully support our following this directive because we didn't have the right education or title.  We didn't want to be disobedient or disrespectful to our leaders, yet we felt strongly that we were to go to Slovenia.  After recovering from the disappointment and ego-bruising, we began to see that God doesn't always do things the same way every time.  If that was the method this denomination chose to send people to the mission field, then it was okay.  It simply meant God was going to use a different avenue for sending us to the place He wanted us to be.
Some people could not accept this.  There were those who believed if our church didn't send us, then we had to be wrong.  We chose to believe that God uses more than one means of accomplishing His plans. He opened and closed certain doors for a reason. This topic in itself could be widely discussed, but another time.

We started sharing the news of our intention to be missionaries in Slovenia.  People began to get on board with us, anywhere from pledging financial support, to finding other individuals and churches that would.  We established a prayer group consisting of several couples who knew us well, were mature Christians, and cared for us as friends. We met regularly for guidance and support.  Things were happening, and the necessary funds began to come in.  But we still didn't have a church or organization to be our "sending" agency. We needed to find someone who would give oversight, or covering, for our ministry, so we began to search out different organizations and mission-sending groups.  We eliminated some quickly as their focus was specific to a certain country or type of mission work.  We narrowed it down, and then sought God's choice for us.  In no time at all we found a wonderful agency, International Ministerial Fellowship, based in Minneapolis, MN.  Their mission statement, doctrinal beliefs, and the function of their agency, meshed perfectly with our beliefs and needs.  We went through the application process, and were received with open arms in March of 2001.  We had a "home"!  They gave us encouragement to fulfill God's call on our lives, and also provided accountability and guidance.  They required regular reports, and checked in with us frequently.  They gave so much to us; it was obvious they truly cared about the people under their banner.

In the summer of 2001, Rob had quit his secular job, and we were both in the throes of full-time support-raising.  We decided as a family to spend the summer in Slovenia to further solidify our plans, and help us see any "bumps" there may be in the road ahead.  We left our house and our beloved dog, Ginger, to the care of our wonderful neighbors, boarded a plane, and spent the 3 months of summer in Ljubljana.  We lived in a small one bedroom apartment not far from the church we were attending.  It was not plush by any means, but we always seemed to have someone stopping by to visit which made it feel very inviting.
Mike, at 14, suffered from culture shock.  He spent most of his days in the apartment listening to music or playing games.  I can still hear in my head the one song he played over and over; it's permanently etched in my brain. Getting him outside to go for walks or to do other activities was very difficult.  He was concerned about how he would look to the people living there, and became somewhat withdrawn and shy.  His reclusiveness concerned us, and we worried a permanent move here would not be good for him. It was certainly something to consider and bring before God. Aside from our concern for Mike, everything seemed to go well, and we forged ahead with our plan to move long term to Slovenia.

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