This is not my plan. It just can’t be . . . .
It was 2020 when we went through the application process with AFM. We had felt God’s calling to serve Him in mission work, but pandemic-related and other complications kept preventing us from moving forward. We had always said it would have been great if AFM had an office in Europe. Now we felt that way more than ever.
As I was coming back from dropping our daughter Sarah off at preschool, I started talking and arguing with God about how I could not understand why we felt His calling, but nothing worked out. Eventually, I softened my voice and said, “Okay, Lord. If You ever want us to serve with AFM, it’s on You to get us there.”
God did not take the direct route. First, he took us to Honduras through another missionary agency. What an incredible journey that year was with so many lessons learned, such as living a life of “We don’t know” and total surrender in the face of no certainties. Living on three continents in one year, we learned to stop making plans and to just follow.
Now we are back in Romania, leading an organization we wished existed then—AFM Europe. It seems God decided that since it had not been done yet, we should do it. I often wonder if God chose us to do this just because we are crazy enough to think we can succeed when things seem impossible.
Am I excited or a little bit reluctant? Sometimes it feels like jumping off a bridge, and other times like flying. People say that the hardest trials yield the greatest results, so I decide to cling to that.
Going back home was challenging for so many reasons after being in the mission field. I was looking forward to being surrounded by familiar faces, precious memories and long-missed items like bookshelves. Instead, I was hit by the initial, powerful shock of returning as a different person in a place that remained unchanged.
We arrived in Romania at the end of January with the mission of starting the newest AFM office, fulfilling our dream of seeing AFM’s presence in Europe. Before, if you had told us we would be blessed with that responsibility, we would have laughed. But God has a strong sense of humor. As Hudson Taylor once said, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”
To get us to this point, pushing us sometimes, God removed obstacles, touched lives, found resources and opened doors. It was not easy. Even after six months, we struggle with the reverse culture shock, always being on the road and missing the mission field. But as much as we love the mission field and sometimes wish we could be there again, God led us where we can encourage and enable many more to be part of this amazing work of saving souls. As someone along the way told us, hundreds of other families will go to many unreached places instead of just our family going to one place.
With the marvelous ways God has provided for us, I can only wonder what He has in store for the future. I am sure of one thing: this was and is not my plan. Nothing about this resembles my way of doing things. It goes against all my natural impulses. It is God’s plan, and since He is the One starting this, I know He will complete it . . . in me and with me.
Adventist Frontier Missions Europe has opened its doors and aims to send God-loving people to the unreached. Will you support us in looking for courageous people who respond to God’s call saying, “I will go”?