For anyone who may be concerned or skeptical about “missions” work, I get that this can be a loaded term. Please check out this blog post I wrote a while back.
July 1993 and September of 1995 respectively – Fred and I meet Jesus separately, in real and personal ways for the first time, prior to meeting each other in the fall of 1996. He’s been changing our lives ever since.
Spring of 1997 – I sense a strong call to abandon ‘my plans’ and follow Him on a path that uses more of the gifts, talents, and interests He’s given me – which beyond music, included teaching and cross cultural work (languages, travel, etc.).
Fall of 1997 – It becomes apparent that although He wants to use these passions and talents He’s given me, He also wants/needs to do some major work uprooting the pride I’d built up around them over the years. The journey of being broken and remade had begun. It hasn’t been easy, and isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been so worth it.
Summer 1998 – Fred and I (dating at the time) spend time serving separately in Europe to see if this might be a direction in which God is leading us both, and therefore to determine if He might be leading us to each other in marriage.
Summer 2000 – Fred and I are married and begin exploring the options and requirements for serving overseas long term as teachers.
Summer 2004 – We complete our Masters degrees as part of the requirements for teaching overseas – and welcome our first child. Not long after, we discover that the organization through which we’d been planning to serve overseas didn’t anticipate needing teachers for a long while to come. Waiting begins.
Spring 2006 – We welcome our second child, and God starts really working on our ‘baggage’ pretty intensely. Yucky stuff is getting drudged up to be healed, and it is agreed that the idea of moving to another culture should be shelved until we’ve worked through this stuff. Again, not a fun process, but oh so worth it!
Summer 2008 – We welcome our third child, and God brings significant measure of restoration to Fred while at the same time increasing my passion for service through business. (I had started on the WAHM, or Work at Home Mom, journey in the spring 2005, but mostly dabbled the first couple years).
Summer 2010 – We begin to learn much more about sustainable living and creation care. Our change in company affiliation for my consulting business frees me up to be home more in the evenings, working online much more. At the time, this was a blessing because we were expecting Baby #4 later that year, but in retrospect, it has also freed me up to more easily take my business anywhere – as in, wherever God might ultimately call us to live and serve in the world.
Fall 2011/Winter 2012 – We sense a growing desire to serve more in our local community, and consider “leaving” our church of 17 years to help with a church plant in town. Our pastor encourages us to also revisit the overseas call at this time, knowing that process generally takes time to actually come to pass. We meet with Ben and Kristy Williams to discuss their need for ministry help in Ukraine. It’s agreed that Fred should come on a summer short term service trip to check out the work they’re doing over there.
Spring 2012 – Since they know of our willingness to possibly serve overseas long term, Ben and Kristy ask that I come on the trip as well, since we’d obviously both need to feel called to serve there. Thanks to the support and encouragement of our wonderful family and friends, we make plans for me to go for the last half of the trip. I’ll need to bring the baby (toddler but still an avid nurser) with me, but the 3 ‘bigguns’ will stay with grandparents and friends.
August 2012 – Our short term service in Ukraine definitely and intensely rekindles our passion for global missions, but it is determined that our callings, giftings, and life situation (large family) are not suited to the specific roles that Ben and Kristy needed to fill on their Ukraine team. So, we go home with passion stoked but a closed door.
September 2012 – We revisit Greater Europe Mission (GEM), with whom Fred had served short term back in 1998, to see what needs they had open. At least two jumped out as possible “perfect fits” for Fred especially – one in Germany and one in England. So we start the application process with GEM.
February 2013 – We head out to Colorado for Candidate Orientation with GEM and, after much discussion, prayer, and seeking, we are appointed to serve with GEM in the UK – but will delay “MPD” (ministry partner development, aka support raising) work until the fall, so we can take six months to dig deeper into our strengths and weaknesses via counseling and adjust to life as a family of 7 (with baby #5 due in June).
April 2013 – We are super excited to start counseling. We view this as a true gift and time to focus on growth as individuals and as a couple, in preparation and strengthening for all that is to come. Fred begins to seriously consider leaving his teaching job in order to prioritize in the fall working toward our move to the UK.
May/June 2013 – After much prayer, counsel seeking, and many little “God-touches” to the story, confirming the decision along the way, Fred turns in his resignation from teaching. We gratefully welcome the safe arrival of baby #5 at home on 6/25 and are super excited about the wild crazy journey ahead.
September 2013 – We (Fred, Lacey, and the baby) made a vision trip to London to get a picture of what God is doing in the UK and to clarify with GEM’s UK leadership where we can best be used to serve alongside God’s Body there.
October 2013 – After the incredible blessing of our nearly-free trip to Fiji, which was affirming on so many levels, we return home and wrap up our season of counseling. We are cleared by our counselor and by GEM to officially begin working on MPD (ministry partner development). And after further discussion with UK field leader, Bryan Doyle, we are headed to the midlands region to work with Andy and Isobel Hodson.
November 2013 – We have officially begun setting appointments with people to discuss our plans and build our team of prayer supporters, financial investors, time givers (people who want to come serve at some point in some way), and connectors (people who connect us with others who may with to partner with us in any way). It will take us a while to meet with everyone, but we’re excited to spend the time (in person, by phone, or by Skype) with people and share what God’s up to. The holidays have made the start pretty slow-going, but people are saying they are interested in learning more in the new year.
January 2014 – We are slowly but surely building our funding base. We are somewhere around 2% in the funding and realizing just what a huge “Goliath-sized” challenge it will be for us to actually make it to the UK by August. But God does those kinds of miracles sometimes, so we are living in that faith-filled, “dynamic tension” space between being totally open for Him to redirect and show us if His timing is different, while also holding on to hope that perhaps He might step in with some major miracles to still make August work. We are also praying through and seeking His daily direction on where to invest our efforts, since there are so many moving parts to this coming together. Between the support-raising, the funding development through business, and the selling off of a majority of our possessions – on top of just day to day life as a family of 7 – we find ourselves having to cling to and rest in Him, doing what we can do each day, and trusting Him to work it all out. Click here for a recent related blog post.
February 2014 – We learn that prefield training runs once a quarter, with the next dates starting April 13, July 6, or Sept 14th. Still holding out hope for miraculously getting to the UK in August, but also hoping to let the kids enjoy their month of summer camp in July with Baba and Grandma before we move away for 2-4 years (or more), we are feeling led to put out a ‘fleece’ of sorts for the April training dates. After praying about it for a week, we decide on the last day of February to use the leverage of technology and social media (which I’ve learned a lot about through business) to create a video and Facebook group so we can get the message out to our potential partners more quickly and easily, asking them to please prayerfully consider letting us know by March 8th, if at all possible, if/how they may be led to partner so that we have some direction on whether we are able to miraculously head to pre-field training in April or not. At this point, we sense that the $55K launch fund (which pays for training both pre-field and when we land in the UK, plus relocation costs) will need to be entirely raised through generous donations, and for our monthly support base, we have a vision to reach 50% via traditional support raising and see the remaining 50% provided through my online business.
March 2014 – The “fleece” helped kick start us up to about 10%. It’s obvious we’re not going to prefield in April, and a number of other question marks are coming on the scene. I wrap up my big telesummit project and make preparations to unplug for an extended ‘e-fast’ in April to seek direction on next steps. We are also blessed by a precious time of sharing our ministry vision with a local church for the first time, which was such a joyous experience.
Spring/Summer 2014 – After a time of focused prayer in early April, and reading a great book called The God Ask, God further clarifies some points and steps for us. We are convicted by the Spirit to go for 100/100 instead of 50/50. That is, 100% funded through building more traditional ministry support team, thereby giving more people an opportunity to invest in this Kingdom work, and also leaving 100% of business profits to be available for investment into other Kingdom work. We set aside the 7 weeks from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost Sunday to book as many MPD appointments as possible for the building of our ministry partner team. The goal was 100 appointments in 50 days, and having given it our all around life with 5 kids, we ended up with 74. Through this, God provided and brought us to roughly 42% of our funding. That confirmed for us that we’d be letting the kids enjoy summer camp at Baba and Grandma’s in July and aiming for the September prefield training. We also felt led to step out in faith, for a number of reasons (too many to list in this summary), and move out of our house June 30th. So, we took a few weeks off from appointments to purge 90+% of our house and pack up the bare essentials to take with us to England. We are staying with Lacey’s folks in July and Fred’s mom in August while continuing to meet with as many people as possible to continue to build our team. We need to be at 80% minimum by August 14th in order to go to North Carolina for prefield September 14-October 10. We were also humbled and blessed to learn on June 30th that Lacey earned a spot on the 2014 Miessence leadership retreat. So she will be flying to Australia, courtesy of the company, and spending the first week of September there masterminding, reflecting, praying, sharing, and relaxing. Please be praying for the trip and especially for Fred with the kids while she’s gone! 🙂
September/October 2014 – After Lacey’s time away at the Miessence leadership retreat in Uluru, we head off to prefield orientation in North Carolina. Four incredible weeks of learning and growth, but overshadowed by the death of Lacey’s brother-in-law, Ian at only 34. We are at approximately 60% funded. We are grateful for God’s grace working out the timing so that we are actually not leaving until early 2015 at the soonest (way back, we’d hoped to be in England by Nov 1), so that we can be home for the difficult holidays without Ian and with our pending goodbyes.
December 2014 – Our launch fund is nearly at 100%! Praying hard now for visas and the remaining 35% of monthly or annual Faith Promises needed so we can go. Though our timetable is still fully surrendered to God to be whatever He will have it be, we are praying and hoping to be on the plane to England by the end of January. Please be praying for God’s provision of full funding and visa logistics.
February 2015 – After some delays, our visa sponsorships come through and we begin the application process. We get our visas a few weeks later.
March 2015 – After 18 years since first hearing a call to live and serve overseas, we arrive in England and begin the process of getting settled.
September 2015 – We are on the other side of initial transitions and seeking to listen to the Spirit each day for His direction in the work He has prepared for us to do here.