Our Journey to the Pnong Project

When we joined AFM, our call to work with the Great River people in partnership with the Timmins family was very clear. Partway through our launch preparations, we were disappointed to hear that the Timminses would be leaving the project, but we continued to trust that God was leading us to the Great River people.

When we arrived in Asia, the Greenfields were already working with the Pnong. We became friends and often called each other for midweek prayer support. We enjoyed visiting them in the cooler hill country and looked for ways to encourage them as they faced the stresses of serving on the mission front lines. But we didn’t consider changing projects because we knew God had called us to the Great River people.

Work at the Great River Project was very challenging for us at times, but because our call was so clear, we were able to persist through times of spiritual warfare and extreme stress. We enjoyed connecting with the villagers and working with our teammates, the Church family. We rejoiced in the baptism of the first Great River member, cried when village friends died, celebrated people’s weddings and did what we could for countless people suffering from various diseases. Our children loved to play soccer with the neighbor kids, and we all enjoyed worshipping with the small group of believers that developed. We were completely dedicated to serving the Great River people with our whole hearts.

Just after our first furlough, we were excited to learn that the Timmins family was coming back to serve again on the Great River Project. We felt this was providential since our call to the Great River people had included them. During the following months, however, we had a feeling that something was going to change, though we didn’t know what.

One day I was talking with Cara Greenfield on the phone. Their family was preparing to return to the Pnong Project after Daniel’s cancer treatment. She shared how overwhelmed she felt at the thought of all the work they would have to do when they got back. I began to pray for the Greenfields earnestly. I prayed that God would provide special help for them until their new teammates could launch to the field. While praying, I was struck with the thought, What if I ask your family to go? Would you do it?

The idea startled me so much that I felt it might be God speaking to me. I mentioned it to Jonathan and our children. Surprisingly, the kids seemed fine with going to help for a year, but Jonathan shook his head. “We have so much going on here that I don’t see how we could go,” he said. “God would have to lead very clearly for me to have peace about leaving our project that long.”

“Well, what would God have to do for us to know?” I asked. Like Jonathan, I didn’t want to leave our project for a year without being sure God was leading.

“First of all, I don’t even want to hint to anyone that we would consider it. The Greenfields or our field directors, the Hookers, would need to ask us directly before I would consider it,” Jonathan replied.

We were so busy that we didn’t give it much more thought until one night soon after the Greenfields arrived back in Asia. We were happily sitting around the table with them and chatting when, out of the blue, Daniel asked, “Would you guys be willing to pray about coming to help out on the Pnong Project?”

Jonathan and I looked at each other. “Who told you to ask us that?” Jonathan asked, eyes wide.

“No one,” Daniel replied. “We just need someone and thought that, with your teaching background, you might be the best fit.”

As we prayed about it, we asked the Lord to lead in some specific ways if He wanted us to accept the Greenfields’ invitation. Over the next few weeks, He fulfilled every condition we set before Him. Soon we were on our way to the Pnong Project for a year or possibly two!

About two months after we moved, AFM asked us to consider staying on the Pnong Project as permanent team members. In many ways it seemed to be a good fit for us, but we felt torn. What did God want us to do? This became our consuming question.

We asked God to give us some kind of clear and significant sign, like He had when He called us to serve the Great River People, but He didn’t work that way this time. Instead He spoke to us through His word. First we read Psalm 32:8 about how He instructs and teaches with His eyes (through His providences). Then, over and over, Jonathan or I would read about following the advice of those in authority, which in this case we felt to be AFM leadership. We also read about the children of Israel following the cloudy pillar. When it rose up, they would follow. When it settled down, they would camp. We knew God had led us to the Pnong Project, and we began to realize that He wanted us to “camp” here until He moves us on. As we prayed and studied, we also felt a deepening sense of peace about the transition, so we accepted the call to work at the Pnong Project as permanent team members.

The Timmins family also moved to the Pnong Project in December. Recently, we had some planning meetings to discuss each of our roles on the project. All three families shared stories of how God had led them to the Pnong Project. The three stories intertwined so amazingly that I was again in awe of God’s leading. The same picture of Greg Timmins on a magazine cover was involved in the Greenfields’ and our family’s call here. Prophetic dreams, which have already been partially fulfilled, helped to confirm the Timminses’ and Greenfields’ calls. Countless answered prayers encouraged all three families to answer God’s call to serve the Pnong.

Looking back on how God brought all of us to this project, I smile contentedly, realizing yet again that He is the ultimate planner. Excitedly, I look forward to what He will do among the Pnong!

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