Thursday, July 10, 2014

Puzzle Pieces

"The providence of God is like Hebrew words--
it can be read only backwards."
John Flavel

Last June I began to pray earnestly, asking God to make plain if the stirrings in our hearts toward church-planting in Europe were really from Him, asking Him about what the future might hold for our family.  It was really an amazing thing to see how within a couple of weeks of those first prayers opportunities to do just that seemed to pop up everywhere on our horizon.  Doors began to open, and some doors closed, and we kept praying, waiting to see which doors stayed open.

I've been very encouraged by Scotty Smith's, Everyday Prayers, lately, and two days before we left for England last month, on June 10, there was a prayer about transitions that was so good.  It closed out with this:

"Shepherd us, Jesus. 
Open doors we cannot shut and shut doors we cannot open.
All we need to know is that you love us and that you're with us.
You promised us both, and you do not lie."

It is a continually steadying thing to my heart to know that He loves us and He's with us.

As doors began to open bringing us into connection with The Crowded House and Grace Church in Boroughbridge, it is kind of amazing to look back and see pieces of the puzzle that God was putting together when we had no idea how they would fit into the story of our future.

Back in September of 2011, a month before KJ and I took our first trip to England together, KJ went to a conference in Huntsville with his dad and a friend from another local church.  He came back so encouraged to continue thinking about ways that our church could be involved with starting new works to reach more people.

The next month we went to England, where we enjoyed everything American tourist-style, but where we also had conversations about moving there to work, conversations that were still in my head 15 months later because I recorded them in my England re-caps. 

Just a few weeks after returning from our October 2011 England trip, KJ showed me a video about a new church starting in Yorkshire.  I think at the end of the video they asked you to pray and consider if God might call you to join them in this new work.  I immediately told KJ he should send them an e-mail to ask for more information.  KJ's a little more of a slow-mover than I am, but I think he began to do a little looking into it.  Meanwhile, the feeling that somehow our future involved living in England persisted pretty strongly for the following year.  You can see it at the end of this post a full year later in October 2012 where I copied out copious amounts of dialog from a James Herriot book, the little church in Yorkshire was still on my mind.

KJ's passion for beginning a work that could possibly grow into a new church also grew, and The Mission Community began meeting together in early Spring of 2012.  The people and meeting place have shifted and changed.  The non-believers it has reached have shifted and changed, but it has continued to be a blessing in all its forms.

This group has been such an encouragement to us, and we love them.  They've also been a blessing to so many visitors and international students, giving them hospitality, an awesome meal, and an opportunity to ask questions about the gospel and about the Bible.  

And almost exactly two years after we stood in our living room watching a video about a new church plant in Yorkshire that we knew nothing about, KJ had his first phone call via Skype with the Network Coordinator at The Crowded House, which he and I both thought would just be a courtesy call.  We just thought we'd be getting some information about church-planting.  But instead, when the call was over KJ said to me, "He said there was a new church that was going to need a new leader soon, and I'm pretty sure it's that same church we watched the video about two years ago."

Two months later, and we were meeting this group face-to-face.

KJ and I joke often about how resistant I am to watching videos on the internet, but I'm really glad I watched that one.  I couldn't have known in November 2011 that in less than three years time we'd be planning to join this group of people we've already come to love.  It's an amazing thing to look back and see the puzzle pieces in your life come together; the expanding picture can be so surprising.

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