If you haven”t heard yet, our planned move to Italy has recently changed. We had been planning to move to Italy in the early fall of 2013, work with Italians there and then commute throughout the year for our work with International friends from Ghana, China and the USA. Due to a recent change, when we found out that we would lose primary custody of our 12 year-old daughter Hailey if we were to relocate to Italy, our hub has changed back to the DC area. While our calling is important, so is family and we do not believe that God is calling us to split up the family and give up primary custody. With that said, we took the recent court decision as confirmation that our ministry hub should remain in the Washington D.C. suburb of Ashburn, Virginia.
Our work continues, as we reverse the commute and depart September 25th on the redeye bound for Europe, to begin work and training with our friends and ministry partners in Italy. We have been routed through England, which gives us the pleasure of a one-day layover to visit with British friends from my Young Life work back in 1999-2002. We are thrilled to kick-off this new chapter of ministry and realize that none of this comes as a surprise to the Living God.
Last night we had 10 guests over, as we carry on our work with local Ghanaians from the Ashburn area. I cannot honestly tell you one person who I knew from Ghana in the local area, until a year and a half ago. Since that time, I have continued to meet more and more. Sandra and I continue to invite them to what we refer to as “Ghana night,” which has become a regular occurrence in our home. I just met Claude from Accra, Ghana this week at Harris Teeter, and last night met Issah and his friend (who”s name I cannot yet pronounce) from Tamale, Ghana. Our guests showed up for chili dogs, cornbread and good conversation (picture above).
My wife Sandra”s prayer when we began this new ministry journey approximately 16 months ago was, “God give us the Nations.” Since that time God has been opening up international ministry opportunities, all centered on this idea of investing in adults and youth, seeking to inspire and build lasting leaders who will make a Kingdom impact in this world. A most recent opportunity that He gave us is that of being tasked with leading a missions trip to Cusco, Peru in June of 2014 (with more opportunities that we have been presented with to build leaders in Argentina and Uruguay in 2015). These countries were the homeland for both of her grandfathers, who passed away in May of 2013. Their legacy lives on, as the ministry of Endurance Leadership extends to areas in which they ministered many years ago.
While I confess being a bit discouraged about the recent change-up in our ministry plan, every one of our friends from Ghana echoed with resounding pleasure last night when we announced that we have decided to remain in Ashburn as our primary residence. God”s ways are truly not our ways and His timing is not what we may believe to be best according to our human agenda, and yet I trust Him. We are trusting in the One who knows the future in addition to what is best, even when it does not make sense to us in the moment. We are excited for the coming ministry trip to Italy and another Ghana night as soon as we return (October 9th). In addition, we will be in southern California from October 15 – 20 to work with potential ministry partners regarding our summer 2014 plans with more Chinese students. Flights are much cheaper to the west coast than the east coast when flying from China, so we plan to double the work in the coming summer with a partner there.
Along this exciting international ministry journey, we have been learning to listen to God and to trust the direction that His Spirit leads us in. In Genesis chapters 6 and 7, we read about Noah”s willingness to follow God and trust His direction in building an ark. At the completion of this colossal construction project, after loading up the ark with animals, food and family members, Genesis 7:16 tells us that the Lord closed the door. A new chapter of ministry opened up for Noah as the previous one came to a close. The shift in direction came to a close at the Lord”s hand. With the recent turn of events in court, we are at peace with the path that was made clear at the closing of a door that was completely out of our control. We are thrilled about God”s leading in the future and know that we are in good hands. Thanks so much for the continued prayers and support of our work – we count it a privilege to follow God with so many friends behind us!