Several years had passed, and we had resumed a normal lifestyle. Rob and I were both busy with work, and Mike was occupied with school and friends, growing up more each day. We enjoyed neighbors and friends, and were always involved in church. Life actually felt good again.
One Sunday, things changed at church. Spiritual awakening, revival, a move of God; whatever you want to call it, it came. There was an increased hunger for more of God, and many were openly repentant and weeping for things God was convicting them of. People were urgently seeking to either "get right with God", or to just have a closer relationship with Him. It was not church as usual.
In the midst of this, God began to move in our hearts, as well. Over the years, I had on occasion felt great burdens for people overseas who had never heard of Jesus. I felt a compassionate, heart-breaking love for those suffering in foreign lands. During this time of spiritual awakening, my burden increased and I would write letters to God, pleading with Him to send someone to help them. I wrote about the emptiness and hopelessness I had seen in the eyes of children housed in orphanages around the world; faces which were broadcast right into my comfy living room via cable TV, while they suffered. Who would love them? Who would fill the void in their hearts? I asked Him about the people who responded to altar calls even within our own church. Who was following up with them and guiding them? Who discipled and nurtured them in their new-found faith? Did anybody care about them once their numbers had been registered in the church ledgers, or were they simply a means of making the church look productive? I didn't have the answers, but was full of questions. Rob, too, had for years believed he would go to a foreign land and do missions work, should God ask him to. But like most of us, we put limits on it. "I'll go as long as you don't send me somewhere really dangerous, or where I have to live in a grass hut with no running water for a hundred miles." We always had put restrictions on it. We were willing, but on our terms. This would soon change.
We didn't realize it at the time, but God had begun to soften our hearts and prepare them for what lie ahead.
At the same time these heart changes were occurring, a family we knew who had been living in Europe, called us unexpectedly. They told us they had airline vouchers which had to be used by the end of the year, and they would not be able to use them. Being so far away from home, there were friends and family they would have liked to bring over for a visit, but instead of making a quick, self-centered gift to someone, they sat down and prayed over the tickets, asking God who He wanted to have them. Over a period of a few days, God kept telling them the tickets were to be offered to us. This was interesting. First of all, it was interesting because we knew we were not their first choice of recipients of the tickets, yet they were willing to be obedient to God with them. Secondly, we had never been to Europe, and we hadn't really been considering going there, so we wondered why this door was now opening. And lastly, it was interesting because we had planned to take our young son to Disney World for vacation, and for no real reason other than we sensed we should, had cancelled the trip the day before the call came from Europe. Rob and I both knew God was up to something. We asked for a couple of days to think about it, but within 24 hours we were sure we were going. An opportunity to fly to Europe basically free could not be turned down. We wondered what God was doing, and it brought a sense of excitement, along with a slight twinge of anxiety. What could this mean, if anything? There was an undercurrent of anticipation. Something fresh and alive was happening in our lives. A new wind was blowing in.