During the past sixteen months, our lives have changed in so many ways. Moving to Ireland may seem like the biggest change, but really, the physical move feels much less important than the work God has done in our hearts. Working with a small team to establish a Bible-based, Christian church unlike anything else available in town has allowed us to be involved in God’s work like never before. Learning to share our faith freely and naturally—without scaring people off—opened the door to rich, meaningful, eternal relationships.
Learning to be dependent on God’s grace is perhaps the greatest lesson—and it’s one we are still learning. This dependency has taught us to rely on Him and His Holy Spirit to change our hearts and minds, instead of trying to boot-strap our way through life. It’s taught us to ask for wisdom and guidance, and, equally important, to listen when the answer comes.
For the past few months, we’ve been praying about our financial situation here in Ireland. As “tent-making missionaries,” our jobs provide our income rather than churches or supporters. Exchange rates, cost of living and issues (from internet to timing), and unanticipated expenses affected our finances in some unexpected ways. So, we trimmed our variable expense as much as possible and continued to pray for guidance and direction. We talked with our team about the possibility of us leaving Ireland and returning to the States—something no one wanted—and prayed together for God to make His will clear.
Just when we thought we’d figured out a solution, His answer came. A long-term contract suddenly ended. No warning. No bad feelings. A simple budget cut for a large company. A huge budget cut for us.
If we hadn’t been praying specifically for clarity and direction, we’d be inclined to see the cut as an invitation to buckle down, work harder, and make it work. That’s what we had been doing and were willing to continue to do. But we couldn’t ignore the timing of the income loss and our prayers for direction. God gave us an answer. And it breaks our hearts.
As saddened as we are by the thought of leaving our friends, this team, this country (at least for now), we trust in God’s plan, His purpose and His timing. Last week, a blog update from A Life Overseas showed up in my inbox. The first article was titled, When the Straight & Narrow Isn’t, and it soothed my soul to be reminded that God always knows what He’s doing.
He knew what He was doing when He sent us to Ireland. That call to our souls was unmistakable. We were brought here for a purpose. We had a job to do and something to learn. We hoped to be here for a lifetime, but God wanted us here for a season. This experience was one tiny dot, not the whole picture.
So, what now? Where will we go? We’re still praying about that, and we would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and direction as well. At this point we’re thinking about relocating to Florida’s Gulf Coast—which is where we were headed when God called us to Ireland. More than anything, we want God to put us where He wants us.
One thing is certain. Wherever we go, we are still “on mission.” Being part of this work has wrecked us for “normal church.” Pew sitting holds no appeal. God is too big. The message of the Gospel is too important. The cost of sin is too high. And there are too many people who don’t know of the gift of new, eternal, joy-filled life that Jesus offers.