Last November, when I joined a team of mission leaders on a visit to Liberia, West Africa, I knew that I was not just going along for a vacation. For awhile now, something has been tugging at my heart about a possible change in ministry location for our family. In the past, as we reached the end of each of our terms of service, I have always had a firm conviction that we were to return to Bolivia. But as we neared the end of our last term, I began to question whether we should return to Bolivia. Not that I had (or have) a sense that our missionaries’ work in Bolivia is completed, or that the need no longer exists for ministry in Bolivia, or, for that matter, that I was to leave the service of Evangelical Church Missions. But two of the main foci of my ministry were approaching a time of transition. I was no longer going to be the field superintendent (that responsibility now rests in the very capable hands of James Wolheter), and the Bible Institute would soon be placed under the care and leadership of the Santa Cruz church district. It seemed like a good time for change for my family. But I wondered whether it was God nudging me toward a different field of service, or if it was merely my own “mid-life crisis” and awareness that I am not getting any younger that fueled my discontentment.
|Me on the beach in Liberia.|
As I prayed and considered what was going on inside my head, I became aware of the newly established work in Liberia and the possible need to place a missionary there. The idea quickly took hold and grew in my thinking, but I didn’t even know if the mission would consider me. More importantly, I wasn’t sure if it was really God tugging at my heart and not my own thinking. I shared these thoughts with a well-respected friend in ministry, and he counseled me to try gently pushing the door open to see what would happen. So I wrote a letter asking the mission director if he would consider the idea of assigning us to Liberia. To my surprise the answer was not an outright no but a response that encouraged me to keep pursuing this idea.
When I heard about an upcoming Liberia trip, I decided to ask if I could be included. Given the go-ahead, I was then able to have some good conversations with the leadership of the church and mission about the possibility of serving in Africa. During the trip itself I also had more good discussion with the mission leadership as well as a visit with the Liberian leaders about the expectations that they would have for a missionary from the States.
Up until now, we felt it best to consider this change quietly. But now it’s time to let the cat out of the bag! I am still praying for God’s guidance in this whole affair and ask if you would join me in seeking God’s direction for our family and ministry. There is not yet any final decision. I am returning to Liberia in April along with Niki and Mark to allow them to see a bit of what it might mean should we make the change. I expect that following the trip we will be able to give a clear yes or no.
If the answer is yes, then we will need to prepare for a brand new adventure as God leads us along! If the answer is no, then we will joyfully return to Bolivia to continue ministering alongside our fellow missionaries and Bolivian brothers.
(Disclaimer: Although I have written this post from my own perspective, Niki has been aware all along of what has been going on inside my mind and has been a very active participant in this whole process. She will be sharing her point of view in an upcoming post. Mark is also involved in the discussion that is taking place.)
|My handsome grandson who has nothing to do with this post but I just wanted to show him off!|