Monday, January 17, 2005

Indiana Joneses

Throughout the last 12 months, I've talked to my two sisters on the phone to keep them updated on me and my family. And the story that unfolded grew to be -shall we say- interesting. (I tell my writing class not to use the word "interesting" unless they're trying to purposefully remain vague.) = ) One of my sisters said, "Oh Suzanne are you writing all this down? You need to be keeping a journal or you'll forget it." She was right of course. And me, an English teacher, not practicing what I preach. But being a blog writer provids me with just the format I need to write down some things that I don't want to forget. So from time to time along with chronicling daily events, I think I will also flashback a bit to jot down some details just for my own memory's sake.

I want to get some thoughts down about our journey to Indiana. Not about our ride up here, but about what brought us here, how we came to be here.

There is quite a bit of detail that I could include but let me just go back and cover some of the turning points of the last year or so. Let me see, one year ago ...
My husband, my three (still at home) kids, and I lived in a very rural area in East Texas. We had always been very happy to live in our remote, beautiful corner of the world. Having lived there for over 15 years, our days were quite busy with our homeschool and farm life. Candace who had her driver's license would take the other two kids to weekly choir practice, to visit friends, and to homeschool and church activities. Between this and visiting their grandparents, their lives were full.

I was the full-time homeschool mom of Ben who was still in jr. high and Candace and Amy who were both in high school. Being a teacher at heart, I have always loved teaching my kids. I particularly enjoy teaching high school students. So I was having fun. These high school years were (and continue to be) a great culmination of all our years together - a time of growing and learning. This was all so meaningful and satisfying to me. Could it get any better than this? Yes, it could!

Meanwhile, my husband, Robert was working full-time (VERY FULL-TIME) in upper management for a chain of retail stores. This was a high stress job and required a lot of hours. It really sucked the life out of him and took its toll on our family. We all yearned for our father and husband to be in a better situation, but we tried to learn to trust that the Lord would put him in a better situation in His own good time.

We had been seeking the Lord to see if He would be pleased to have us go into the mission field. Many years ago, God called both Robert and me into full-time ministry. All Rob ever wanted to do was to pastor a church, and from our teenage years we both felt the call of the Lord into missionary work before we had even met each other.

In recent years this old desire had come alive once again. Our desire to specifically go to the UK was born. At first, we felt very strongly that the Lord would have us go to Scotland and join the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), (otherwise know as simply the FCC). But this door closed and we questioned whether Scotland was really the place where God wanted us to be.

While we were in Scotland investigating the Lord's will regarding our service in starting a Christian school there, a strange thing happened. We spent quite a bit of time with Scottish ministers and several of them questioned my husband as to whether he had considered if the Lord had called him to preach and pastor. He told them that he believed that God had called him to preach many years ago, but that the Lord hadn't opened the door for him to pastor yet. They advised him to go home and pray about it. We liked the FCC very much and were confused and disheartened when the Lord didn't open the door for us to join them to help in Christian Education, but He had other plans in store for us.

During the entire time we were emailing the Scots (preceding and following our trip to Scotland), Robert had also been in email contact with a man in England. After the Lord closed the door to our joining the FCC in Scotland, we became increasingly convinced that our Lord might want us to join a small Presbyterian denomination to help a struggling work in southern England. Because of this, we started to doubt that we had heard the Lord correctly regarding Scotland and we turned our attention to England and the UK in general. (We would always pray for England and all of the UK because in our hearts we could never fully let go of Scotland!)

In the process of working out details to seriously consider moving to England, our English friend asked us if we had ever heard of a reformed Presbyterian denomination called the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (known as the RPCNA). We replied that we had not. He put us in contact with one of their ministers. This was in February, 2004, and before we knew it, Robert took off work and he and I drove to Florida to a RPCNA presbytery meeting in March. There we met men with whom we instantly bonded in Christ. We told them honestly about our burden to go and minister in the UK (specifically England, at that time). Then an amazing thing happened. A group of men came up to us after having only known us for a couple of days and invited us to move to Indiana in order to help facilitate us in our desire to go the mission field.

In June, we visited our new RPCNA friends in Indiana and traveled to England to meet our English friend. Then we went back to Texas and prayed about it all. It didn't take us long to see the Lord's hand in all this so in August, 2004, we moved to Indiana, became members in a local RPCNA congregation, and now Rob is an intern finishing up his preparation for the ministry with a view to be used by God in the UK!

We still have a special desire to go help the struggling church of God in Scotland. That desire has never died. But we are willing to go wherever our Lord leads us. Our kids are just as intent on going into the mission field as we are. They are older now and have minds of their own. We all just want to follow the Lord no matter how He chooses to lead us ... even if His ways seem strange and somewhat indirect!

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