Jordan and I are right smack in the middle of the most challenging time of our lives. No joke.
This whole process of inviting others into our call and preparing to move our entire family to the other side of the globe is bringing us to the end of ourselves (and if you know my story with birthing and then trying to breastfeed Moses, and the postpartum depression that followed, you know that’s really saying something). This is the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Hands down.
But this process has refined us in a way that nothing else ever has.
And it’s shown us so many areas where God wants us to grow. And we truly believe it’s preparing us for what’s to come in Africa.
When we moved to Tanzania in 2010, we did not invite others into it, we did not raise our own support. We had both been working full-time in Los Angeles prior to that move, and we planned to go for an initial seven-month commitment to define the role God had for us there. We were self-supported for those seven months. Self-sufficient. Truly independent.
The plan was, at the end of that time, to come back to the states and then be able to communicate the vision God had given us, thus being much better equipped to actually invite others into the work He had called us to for the long-term (since we were on a student visa and then planned to be on a volunteer visa - we would not be allowed to earn an income in Tanzania, just like we aren’t allowed to earn an income in Kenya). And, at that point, we would have a much better idea of what it would actually cost for us to live there (at that time, we were sent by a very small church, not a sending agency, and no one had a full grasp on what it would take for a couple, or family, to live in Moshi, Tanzania full-time).
If you know our story, you know none of those plans unfolded like we had hoped.
We actually haven’t stepped foot on that beautiful, red, African soil since we flew back to the states at the end of that seven-month initial time-period nearly seven years ago. Have I said seven enough times? Are you still following?
We left an apartment full of belongings - clothes, dishes, furniture. And friends. We said “see you soon” not knowing we would never live there again. God had other plans, and we’ve taken a seven-year (there’s that word again) detour to learn some things (a lot of things!) and better prepare for what’s to come. One of the biggest things we’ve learned is this: it is SO much easier to go without inviting other people to be a part of it, without raising support (SO. MUCH. EASIER.), but it’s also SO much lonelier, and in the long run, probably (definitely) much more detrimental to our life and ministry.
Let me explain.
Those seven months we were in Tanzania in 2010 were some of the loneliest months of our lives. We didn’t have a team of people who were faithfully giving and investing into the work God had called us to. Granted, we didn’t know what we were called to, and that wasn’t our sending church’s fault. We didn’t take the time to build relationships with people back home who would stand with us in prayer and through faithful giving. We didn’t ask. We were going to. We just never got to that point.
This time around we are taking the time to persevere through this incredibly humbling task God has placed before us - inviting others to be a part of the work He’s called us to in Africa before we go. This time we are asking our brothers and sisters in Christ to take ownership in the people and the ministry our work represents, to join with us through prayer and faithful giving to see those who don’t know Christ in Africa, those from Unreached People Groups specifically, have the chance to learn about Jesus. Both the trials and the triumphs of our ministry belong in part to our monthly and annual partners. And we’re not just saying that. This is not just us going and everyone else staying. This is us going with a team of people who are investing in the work we’re going to do.
Our team stands with us when the work is hard, and they rejoice with us when the work is worth celebrating.
As missionaries with Africa Inland Mission, we depend month to month and year to year on individuals and families who commit to be prayer and financial partners - people who may not themselves be called to move to Africa, but who choose to be a part of God’s provision for the sending of our family. So we can do the work God’s called us to do. People who believe in our family, believe in our call. People who will pray for us, stand with us, love us and send us well. People who won’t receive any tangible benefits in return for their gifts (except the privilege of investing in something that is eternal - the chance for people from Unreached People Groups to come to know Christ).
Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In essence, we are asking people to put their treasure into something that has no return for them on this earth (but that has an incredible return in heaven!) so that our hearts can be aligned. We’re giving up our lives here in the states - our predictable, comfortable, stable lives. And it’s hard. The hardest thing we’ve ever done. But it is so worth it - even if just one person comes to know Christ through it.
So the question, then, is this - what part are you playing in seeing people come to know Christ? Has God gifted you with the provision to send another to an Unreached People? Or is He asking you to go yourself? Are you willing to ask him those questions?