At the beginning of the year I was asked to do a break out session at a conference in Thailand that I highly respect.
This was the beginning of a new divine convergence in our family’s life and ministry.
Events began to form and lead us down a certain road. This has been an increasingly common element of our story as we seek to honor God and surrender to his purposes.
At this conference were scholars and leaders from all over the B.hist majority world.
In some ways I felt out of place to be there, but I knew the Lord had opened the door for me through another appointment three years ago and I had been there ever since.
While at lunch during the conference, I introduced myself to a stranger and asked to sit at the same table. As we made small talk, the conversation came to him asking me about how I got involved in missions work.
Out of all the stories I could have told him, I chose the story of an encounter I had while our Navy ship ported in Okinawa Japan.
An Air Force couple picked my friends and I up after I called a random church out of the phone book. They took us to their home to eat dinner before the service. Eventually the husband came out with some books in his hands and said to me in essence,
“I don’t know who you are or what you will do in life or in the future, but I feel led to give you these books. We wouldn’t give them to just anyone because they are precious to us, but we feel that you should have them.”
Those books influenced me to focus my newly discovered missions calling on “unreached people groups.”
My new friend who was listening then asked me for the couple’s name.
I thought to myself, “this happened sixteen years ago, in Okinawa, with people from the Air Force, etc. How could you know them”?
He said, “I work for the US Center for World Mission” and we are the ones who published those books.
I told him the couples’ names. We were both amazed because he did know them!
In 2008, I wrote about this couple’s influence on my missions calling and now this is coming back to me in the strangest of circumstances. (blogs are so cool this way, date stamping thoughts!)
I found out that after finishing their enlistment in the Air Force and doing some initial missions work, this couple had been on staff at the US Center for World Mission.
They are now serving among an unreached people group in a former Soviet republic! My new friend wanted to put me back in contact with them after all of these years and he did!
Many other “God moments” happened after this conversation, and we agreed to stay in touch moving forward.
A few weeks later after this, my wife and I got an evaluation back on our youngest.
The final report said that he was behind in his development. We had already known this and were getting him some help through therapy, but we knew we needed to step up our efforts to give him the best chance at catching up.
We were going to put him into a more expensive all English school so that he could get the best possible help locally. Although we really couldn’t afford it, we were willing to do whatever it took to make it work. Everything was going well until we realized that the school was not able to accept him at this time.
We were shocked because we honestly thought they would be able to help and that we could continue with increasing the consistency of the other help we were already getting.
We began asking key leaders to pray with us about this situation our family was facing and one of them was the man I met at the conference. I told him that I was probably going to return to the US for a season.
That is when he began to ask me if I would consider coming on staff at the US Center for World Mission in California and continuing my missions work and focus.
I talked with our leaders back home about the possibility and all of them thought it could be a great opportunity as well as a great place to get our son the all English environment and help that he may need for this critical season.
The only problem was that we were having a hard time wrapping our mind around the fact that God may be calling us to this place, to serve him in mission from the West Coast.
We had never thought about having to leave Thailand.
Our goal was for life or for as long as the Lord would have us.
So, we all decided to take a week to pray about all of this and see how God may be leading.
My wife actually wanted to stay in Thailand and I was wanting to go back at least for a period of a couple of years. I saw it as putting our family first and she saw it as fighting for what God so clearly called us to do.
Looking back now, I see that we were both right.
At the end of the week, God really moved on my wife in a powerful way. He spoke to her about submission, not to me as her husband, but to him as Lord.
He began to remind her of the story of Jesus and his disciples getting on a boat to cross to the other side.
In the story it says, “Immediately a storm arose.”
But Jesus was unconcerned and able to stay at rest because He knew his destiny was not to die in that storm. So he was asleep while his disciples were afraid of dying.
The Holy Spirit clearly spoke saying,
“A storm is coming. But I did not bring you out here to shipwreck you, but to bring you to the other side.”
My wife was being invited into the boat with Jesus to rest and trust during the raging storm. She wrote a full account of this story on her blog.
That day she literally laid down on the couch in a type of prophetic act and worshipped Jesus for a couple of hours until she had to pick the kids up for school that afternoon.
On her way home the day she had this encounter, she was involved in the car accident. Crazy, I know!
If you missed it, you can read all of our accounts of the most difficult season in our lives so far leading up to this day. Here they are from the earliest to the newest.
We made it through the storm by God’s grace and were free to leave the country.
And by the end, we had not only received deliverance but also full agreement about how we should proceed despite the hard transition we might face.
In June, we made our way from Thailand to Pasadena and met with our friends at the US Center for World Mission.
As we took the time to scout out the land, God showed us many things personally about how life would look for us and Aslan here, but we were still staying cautious and prayerful.
One day I picked up a new brochure published by the Center.
That brochure contained the two words that God has spoken to us about our future ministry some eleven years earlier.
I wrote about these words and what they meant to us in a previous post just before we attended the “Explore” event at the Center.
The words God spoke to us as a couple were “Strategic” and “Catalyst.”
There in the brochure staring up at me was the tag line for the Center,
“US Center for World Missions: A Catalyst Among God’s People.”
Inside were the words,
“We seek to fill in strategic gaps in mission through strategy, mobilization, and training.”
We both knew that a divine convergence was happening.
During our week at the US Center, we could see even more clearly that this is the new assignment God had for us. We would have probably never chose to stop what we were doing otherwise.
People ask us if we love Thailand and the Thai people. We answer, “yes, of course we do!”
But our greater love is Jesus.
He is Lord and where he leads, we follow. He knows the way to make it all work together beautifully.
What is the US Center for World Mission?
Join us in the mission through your support.
If you would like to support our ministry, we could use your help as we move forward. Would you take a moment to prayerfully consider what the Lord might have you to do to support us on a monthly basis or with a one time gift. Click here. Thank you!