For the 1st blog of 2021, on the heels of our family flying to Scotland, I thought it was a fitting time to give an account of our lives over the last 2 ½, almost 3 years that have led to this point. God gets all the glory here, and I intend to give it!
“O give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!”
Each of us have different stories, but all of us can testify to God’s sovereign hand. I believe that these are meant to be shared for the building up of the body of Christ and to the glory of His name. I have told Logan on more than one occasion that I haven’t seen so clearly God direct our paths as He has during this journey besides when we were prayerfully discerning if it was His will for us to marry. He has confirmed over and over again that this is His doing and not our own.
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Part 1: How did we go from living at our “forever” home in the country with acreage, a pond, etc. near Logan’s parents to leaving everything behind to go to Scotland?! This particular story of our lives begins in a rather unlikely circumstance: the funeral of Logan’s grandmother on April 11, 2018. Funerals tend to cause us to reflect on the brevity of life and how we are using the precious time we’ve been given. Logan and I had several talks the preceding weekend about how we are investing our time and wanting to clearly discern God’s will for our lives. Along with everything leading up to this very point, the actual timing was no coincidence. Logan and Garrett were already scheduled to attend the Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference in Louisville, KY that day and the remainder of the week.
On April 12th (or 13th), we 1st heard of 20schemes. Logan and Garrett heard a brief explanation of the ministry as the director and a few of the ministry team members took the stage. The next morning (as the presentation was at the end of the evening), they both went to the booth to talk to Marci…long enough Logan felt badly that he was taking her time when there may be others she should be talking to about ministry, not him! ;) Meanwhile, I was home taking care of our other 2 children, the home, etc., so I streamed almost none of the conference. However, I “happened” to be watching when 20schemes took the stage that same day. I was immediately interested in the ministry, and I went to the website as soon as their presentation was over. I kept thinking to myself, “Logan is going to think I’m crazy looking into this!” I can see how the Lord was already directing our paths. We both unknowingly had a keen interest in this ministry from the 1st day we heard about the work.
Later, we “happened” to have supper with a couple from our church. We mentioned 20schemes during the visit, and they lent us their copy of Church in Hard Places. I immediately read it cover to cover. Logan was less keen as he felt we needed to put this out of our minds. However, it didn’t leave either of us, and Logan decided to read the book as well. Afterwards, he was convinced we needed to inquire more. The first place we went was to our pastor and his wife. We wanted honest feedback if this was something they felt could be of the Lord’s leading and if they felt we were able to do based on what they’d seen in our lives.
I’d like to add right here that the Lord has very graciously provided exactly who was equipped to counsel us at every point of the journey. He is such a loving Shepherd, and we can trust Him! He knows what we need before we do! As we were considering this ministry, one acquaintance of mine came to mind who was ministering with her husband and 4 children overseas. I cried as I typed out my questions and concerns, realizing that there would be big implications if we indeed took this step. She was a voice of understanding when I needed it, and she helped me sort through my feelings and work through trusting God and whatever path He would lead us on.
On July 11, (which was coincidentally Samuel’s 5th birthday), Marci and her husband Frankie came over for supper so we could ask all of our questions and discuss the ministry. Afterwards, Marci recommended us as good candidates to Matthew Spandler-Davison (the executive director of 20schemes). We decided to go ahead and begin the very thorough and lengthy paperwork. On July 26, 2018, we submitted our 20schemes application!
The morning of August 11, Logan had an informal video chat with Matthew, and during that Logan and I were both invited to Candidate’s Week in Scotland March 2019. We agreed, although we didn’t yet know how all the details would work out.
The latter half of Labor Day weekend, September 2-3, our family visited Bardstown to meet some of the 20schemes staff, worship at Redeemer Fellowship Church and hear Matthew preach. We stayed at the Spandler-Davison home and then had lunch with Frankie and Marci before returning home.
On September 16th, Logan spoke about 20schemes during class at our home church.
On October 4th, we booked our plane tickets to Scotland. I didn’t sleep much that night! Note: One very personal sovereign provision God gave me was the gift of my momma staying with our children the 10 days we’d be out of the country. She “happened” to have Mardi Gras break (it’s a southern Louisiana thing!) that week, which is normally in February. Therefore, she only had to miss a day or two from teaching to come up. Logan’s mom and dad were right across the road available for help and company as well. This was HUGE for me. It stretched me more than anything to leave my children for so long, let alone cross the ocean from them! We planned to go before knowing how we were going to care for our children, and He just placed this great big present in my hands. I still praise Him for such a kindness!
On January 18-20, 2019 Logan and I attended the 20schemes candidate’s training in Bardstown, KY. This was an encouraging time to learn more and also meet some of the other candidates who would be traveling to Scotland with us.
During March 1-10, Logan and I attended the Candidate’s Week as well as the 20schemes Weekender in Scotland. I was a nervous wreck to fly, but God graciously helped me keep going despite my anxiety. I still distinctly remember the step onto the plane for the international flight – trusting God despite my intense fear. We really enjoyed our time aside from missing the kids. We instantly felt close to the believers and really missed them when we left although we had only been with them days!
On March 15th, Logan was formally offered a Gospel Worker position with 20schemes (it’s now a Church Planter Associate I believe). We were given 30 days to pray and decide.
On April 9th, we officially informed 20schemes of our decision: We said yes!!! This came after much prayer as a family, consulting our children individually, praying with our church family, etc. We came to the conclusion that there was a great need for people to serve in Scotland and we were willing and able to go. We felt God had been directing our paths this way, and we wanted to be obedient.
An interesting side-note: the day after we said yes, we had to take Garrett to the ER for a very high fever. Three days later, Abigail had a similar sickness. It seemed too uncanny to me to be coincidence. I believe this may have been a taste of spiritual warfare.
Part 2: Once we said yes to going overseas to serve, how were we able to do all that was needed including raise support for Logan to serve full-time? I’ve reminded myself countless times during the past (almost) 2 years that if God guides, He will provide. It’s been Him from the beginning, and it will be Him to the very completion. We’ve simply sought to be faithful and work hard at the tasks before us. He has given any increase!
To begin with, we knew we would need to sell our home very soon in the process, because all of the land and home upkeep would occupy too much of Logan’s time and energy to be able to raise support and the other things needed. Well, God provided and quickly! We were planning to sell our home to one of Logan’s sisters, but her family had a home to sell as well. Their home sold almost immediately because it turned out that the previous owners had grandsons who were interested in buying it. We filled out the proper paperwork to sell our home on June 7th and viewed an apartment on June 10th. The Lord provided the apartment as well. The area we were needing to move to very rarely has apartments come open, and we had a small window we needed to move during if we were to go from our house straight into an apartment. He provided a beautiful 2-bedroom just a half mile from church, and it has been a perfect transition place!
We also had some painful goodbyes as a part of choosing to serve overseas. We had 2 family dogs we needed to rehome, and it was not easy finding good homes! We also needed to find them before Logan’s work trip to Las Vegas. God provided perfect homes for both, and both the week before he left. On July 5, we told our indoor fox red lab, Ruger, goodbye. It was a tearful time as we’d had him almost 3 years to the day and had brought him home as a small puppy. Garrett’s outdoor dog of 4 years, a lab/beagle mix named Buckshot, went to his new home the following day.
On July 26, 2019 we officially sold our home, and on August 1 we moved into the apartment that was our home until a couple weeks ago. The timing was perfect.
This marked the beginning of really pressing on in support-raising. We had done so since saying yes to 20schemes, but now time was more available to be more intentional. Logan was able to speak to a few churches (and consequently individuals) in the fall and winter months of 2019, and we met with individuals in our home as well. We attended the 20schemes Bardstown training in January 2020 as a family, and we met another family who is currently preparing to fly to Glasgow and serve long-term as well. Speaking of God providing people at the right times, the wife has been such an encouragement to me during the last few months! We’re working through similar things alongside one another. Abigail was especially encouraged by a young lady who is now a 2-year intern in Inverness, Scotland. The Lord cares for us in countless ways!
In early 2020 the coronavirus hit along with the lockdown and such, slowing support efforts down drastically. It was not idle time, as God redeems everything. We spent more time in the Word as a family and were able to participate in the T4G livestream (we were originally attending as a family this year) as well as Secret Church with David Platt. Logan also sent out numerous mailings to churches and placed several phonecalls. One of the best things he did was build a website for our ministry. I am grateful to be married to a visionary! He is always coming up with helpful ideas. During the past several months, from a human mindset, you’d think we wouldn’t have been able to continue to gain support through one-time gifts and monthly supporters coming on, but the Lord is not bound by time or circumstances! He has done abundantly, and it is all to His glory!
Our arrival date has been moved twice during the past year from August 1 to October 1 and now to February 1. However, what a mercy it has been! Now I can look back with tears of thanksgiving. We’ve been given more time with our church family since the lockdown has lessened, Logan has been able to teach 3 different books of the Bible in the Sunday school class, I was able to participate in a ladies’ Bible study longer and then lead a Risen Motherhood group for about 10 weeks. We’ve heard more sermons and lessons by our pastor, been able to fellowship with our church family through our discipleship group and other events, spent more holidays with family, and we’ve grown as a family and individually in ways we can’t even see. All along our prayer has been that God would prepare us for the ministry ahead in whatever way was best, and I can only believe that this has been His personalized training ground for our family. When we experience struggles or setbacks, let’s all learn to trust better the hands of our mighty God who does all things well. Even as we plan to fly out into a tight lockdown in the UK, I truly believe that all of this has been a part of God’s sovereign timing and that we must trust His timing and purposes. He does nothing by mistake.
Ok so back to the timeline! I’m going to fast-forward to October 28th 2020 when we received a phone call from Marci. We were notified that we were only 74% funded for our 3-year budget and that we needed to be at least 80% funded for the U.S. side of the visa process to begin. Well, this was a little unexpected as we thought we had all we needed to begin that. Logan straightaway made social media posts and e-mailed our supporters letting everyone know where we were and asking people to prayerfully consider supporting us. Well, in less than 48 hours we met our 80% mark and by November 4th, we were to the 84% mark! We were blown away by the Lord’s provision through His people and how quickly it came in! We had new support come in as well as current supporters raising their monthly commitments. We also found out during that phone call that we were going to be working with the Millars at the church revitalization in Maryhill, Glasgow. We had kept open minds and hearts about where we would be placed, but I have to say we were thrilled with this news! I remember back when we were preparing to sell our house, we already had a feeling we’d be in Glasgow, and we also in later months wondered if we’d be in Maryhill. I feel God was already preparing our hearts for that placement.
Most of our experience the past year has felt like “Hurry up and wait”. Well, this is an example. When the ministry was preparing to submit our visa paperwork, they were counseled to wait until the UK websites were updated on December 1 (BREXIT, I believe, was the reason everything was being reworded). The site actually didn’t update until mid-December! Marci came to our apartment to help us fill out the lengthy online paperwork on December 17. Over the 17, 18, and 21, Logan put in HOURS (I believe over 20) on the visa applications. Next were the biometric appointments in Louisville, KY. In the past, a whole family could go in on the first person’s scheduled appointment and get them all done. That was not the case this year. My sweet husband made the trip 5 separate times during about a 7-day window and then mailed everything as well. He’s taken care of so many logistics and forms that I’ve not had to touch! As of today, 4 of our 5 visas are in, and we’ve booked our plane tickets (and flight insurance). We’ve run into a snag with Garrett’s visa, and any day we hope it’s going to arrive back in the mail approved. I have to keep giving it to the Lord when I’m tempted to worry.
The Lord has taken care of every detail. Logan’s employer has continued to work with him through all the delays, as well as our apartment. We moved out the weekend after Christmas, and Logan’s last day at work was last Friday. We are now living with Logan’s mom and dad and condensing what we plan to fly over to Scotland. God has also provided us a flat in a very good spot for effective ministry within the last couple weeks. Our lease begins February 1st, speaking of perfect timing! We’ve been lining out luggage and all we need to bring over. Logan and I will head to our final 20schemes training in Bardstown next weekend, and our church is having a sending off service for us this weekend. We are at 2 ½ weeks until we fly out February 1st, Lord-willing. We just need Garrett’s visa and 5 negative covid test results to fly. Currently our support is at 94%, so we are almost there! God has abundantly provided all we need, so we are confident He has everything worked out. We are heading into a very tight lockdown, but we believe God has purposes in that as well. He has been faithful since He called us to go, and He will provide!
“We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The past two years have been a roller coaster for all of us including me (Abigail). When we first heard about 20schemes, both Daddy and Momma were immediately interested in the ministry and began to explore it a little bit. I thought in my head, ‘Why are you guys so interested in a ministry overseas? I mean, it is not like we’re ever going to move to Scotland or anything!’ (Or so I thought!) However, they were accepted to go for a ten-day training assessment with 20schemes, and so they flew to Scotland on March 1, 2019. It was hard on all three of us to have them gone for 10 entire days even though our wonderful Grandma Kay stayed with us. I wanted to cry a lot of the time, but I knew I probably needed to be strong for Samuel. Overall, I only cried two or three times and that even was once I was “alone” in my room. I am very thankful that I had a younger sibling to be strong for, because it helped me to not focus on Daddy and Momma being gone but on the time we got to spend with Grandma Kay. I was so relieved when my parents walked in the door of our house at midnight of the tenth day. About a month after that, we accepted a long-term position with 20schemes. I could but couldn’t at the same time believe that we were going to sell the house and dogs, move into a two-bedroom apartment, and then leave the country as a whole. As was planned, a couple of months later we sold our two dogs: Ruger, an indoor fox red lab, and Garrett’s outdoor half lab half beagle, Buckshot. This was one of the very hardest parts of moving to the apartment for me. I didn’t realize how much I would miss the dogs until the day before they both went to good new homes. However, I am very grateful for the time we had to enjoy them and that they both have good and loving homes. Just around a month or so later, we sold our house in the country along with a pond and some woods. I was excited to move into a new place closer to our church family, but once we did, I wished I would have not been so excited to move but instead cherished every last moment at our house in the country. It was a big change for me to not have my own bedroom, be able to run and play outside whenever I wanted, run down a driveway to check the mail, etc. After we had lived in the apartment for a while, I decided instead of dwelling on the negative, I should rather think of something to thank God for, such as God using me and both of my brothers sharing a room to teach me to not be so easily annoyed, etc. There have also definitely been good things about living in an apartment. A few of those are: it being more convenient to have people from church over, getting to help out at church a little bit more, getting to walk to church when the weather is nice enough to, etc. The moment I dread and have dreaded the most is telling my friends and family bye. I cry a lot…, just ask Garrett. I am not good with good byes even when it’s someone I already don’t see very much. Right now, I feel like a ball of emotions, so I’m not even sure how I feel. I’m sad to leave the country and apartment, excited to get to Scotland, don’t want to have to tell my friends/family bye, etc. A Bible verse that I have to remind myself over and over is Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse has helped me over and over again.
When we decided to join the work with 20schemes ministry, we knew there would be a lot of work to do just in getting to Scotland. This meant it would have a significant impact on our calendar from that point forward. So, we needed to strategize, rearrange, and scratch some things off our schedule. This wasn’t an easy process as we generally try to be purposeful in regards to our calendar. One main area of concern was our involvement in our local church…we didn’t want the process of getting to Scotland to negatively impact the fellowship we have in the local church. Here are a few reasons why:
Prayer: I remember first mentioning that we were looking into applying to work with 20schemes for prayer during a Sunday morning class time. We put the request for prayer out there in confidence knowing our local family in Christ would actually pray not just during that time but also in their own prayer time. We know we need prayer and that our local church will pray. Not only so but we want to continue to know and learn how to pray for our fellow believers as well.
Ministry: Preparing for missions is not an excuse to disengage from the local church. The work locally continues on. We believe in the purpose of the local church, its various ministries, and its local outreach endeavors and want to be involved as much as possible. We want to be as useful as we can during our remaining time in the States, not grow less involved. (We go to other churches to share about the work we will be joining in Scotland whenever we have opportunity to do so, but otherwise we want to be with and work alongside our church family.)
Accountability: Regardless of where we are in our walk with Christ, accountability within the local church community is a must. What I mean by this is we need a strong, relational fellowship within a local church in which there is common unity around Jesus, sound teaching, spiritual growth, good encouragement, and an openness to be called out (and to call out) if going astray.
Corporate Worship: COVID should be enough to explain this point. There is no substitute for worshiping the living God together with your local church.
God’s Word: The teaching and preaching of the Word of God is priceless in the life of a believer. Not only so but the best teaching and preaching comes from those who know their hearers and know how to apply God’s Word contextually…this is one of the beauties of a local church.
Encouragement: Our church family has been solid. I’m overwhelmed as I write this just recalling the many prayers, words of encouragement, real help, and partnership that is there. We love our church family and will miss them like crazy when we move to Scotland.
Funding: This point is put here kind of as a funny, but actually it’s true. If those who know you best will not invest in you, that should tell you something! When we had t-shirts made last year to help kick things off, our church family was there to buy them. Our local church is our sending church, our largest prayer partner, and our largest financial partner. There are several individuals within our local church who are partnering with us as well.
During this time of transition we have been renting an apartment that is just half a mile from our local church. This has been a blessing to be so close to and in the same town as our local church. Well, there are many more things to say about the importance of the local church…perhaps in a future post.
Imagine it’s February 2021, it’s time for my family and I to hop on a plane to Scotland for long term missions, and we show up at the airport in a couple 26 foot U-Hauls packed full with our stuff – furniture, bedding, dishes, clothes, all the extras, everything we’ve accumulated … the whole 9 yards. We’d get some funny looks; we might even make it on YouTube … you know one of those “Stupid People Doing Stupid Things” clips. It’s easy to imagine how ridiculous even the thought of this is, but many of us may be doing something quite similar whether we realize it or not.
Jesus once spoke this parable (a simple story teaching a spiritual truth) of a man who not only wanted to hang on to what he had but wanted to store up all of his excess so he could take life easy: “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
Here’s a fact our middle & upper class American culture doesn’t like to think or talk about: each one of us will die one day. When we do we’ll leave behind all of our money, retirement investments, houses, and material possessions … everything we have accumulated.
One of the things I have noticed through the last year and a half is how amazed others have been at all we’ve sold and given up in order to do missions across the pond (not that it was a fortune to begin with). I appreciate the sentiment, understand where they are coming from, and it’s not my aim to be critical here. Allow me to be transparent and confess that it’s been a bit emotional for my family and me as we have and continue to go through the process of selling and downsizing. Parting with stuff that we have had for years, stuff we have memories attached to, stuff we still use, stuff we never planned on parting with … even though it is just stuff, it is crazy how attached we can get to it. However, no matter how you cut it, truth is that sooner or later we will all part with our stuff. It is as Job put it: “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return.” (Job 1:21a)
However, Job’s mindset isn’t the typical mindset I find in this American culture and understandably so with all that is right at our fingertips. Quite sadly though, in my experience this isn’t the typical mindset in churches here either. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely believers who are sold out for Jesus, who hold material things with a loose grip, and who invest in The Kingdom with their time, energy, and resources, but this is not the common attitude that I have encountered. Truthfully, it’s not the attitude I have always had either (might I insert here the importance of us being patient with each other as we grow in Christ). Even still, reality is many of us talk a good talk but our walk is marked by a noticeable limp.
Before I do any more beating, let me add some balance to this so as not to be misunderstood: money is not evil, but the love of it is, and it does cause some to wander from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10). To be responsible with money in planning for financial setbacks is a good thing (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2) … we all probably know someone who lives on handouts when they are fully capable of taking care of themselves with a little self-discipline and financial planning. Retirement is not wrong, but the use of it can be (in principle Luke 12:16-21 quoted above). Jesus taught that where our treasure is, that is where our heart will be (Matthew 6:19-21). Believers are instructed not to love the world or the things in the world because the things of this world are passing away (1 John 2:15-17).
The problem comes (1) when we work for our own pleasure, leisure, and financial security over and above and to the neglect of the Kingdom of God and (2) when we are unwilling to part with possessions, comforts, financial security (or really anything) for the Kingdom of God.
Let us remember that no one can serve both God and money/possessions (Matthew 6:24). What we can and should do, however, is use our money and resources (time, energy, abilities, etc.) to serve God. We need to remind ourselves of the truths within God’s Word, such as: “one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). We will all part with our money and possessions at some point. There are at least two places I’ve never seen a U-Haul: at the airport and at the cemetery.
As I (Garrett) can struggle with negativity, I decided to write my blog entry about the joys and benefits my family and I have received during this time of preparing to move to Scotland. God has been so good to us, and I think we should focus on the blessings He has given us rather than highlight the trials we have encountered. Consequently, I have thought of five specific ways God has blessed us during this time of transition.
As a brief reminder, last time I talked about trusting God with our children as we embark on foreign missions as a family and all that will entail. This blog is taking a totally different approach to children and missions, although it is very similar if you think about it. Consider this letter written by Adoniram Judson (missionary to Burma) to his future father-in-law:
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of the perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
(Quoted from The Hidden Help Meet: Stand by Your Man by Debi Pearl and Denny Kenaston)
If you were this parent, how would you respond? Ann’s father let her decide, and she went on to suffer alongside Adoniram and eventually die there at the age of 36 as they sought to plant a church in Burma. Was her life a waste? Consider these words from Jim Elliot, a young man whom many of his contemporaries felt he had thrown away so much potential as he served as a missionary in Ecuador and later died a martyr at the age of 28 while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people during Operation Auca: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
As parents, we must really ask ourselves some very important questions. What is the real purpose in life? Therefore, what is our purpose as parents? What does successful parenting look like, and how do we go about achieving that? Once again as I said last time, do we truly believe in the God of the Bible and are we truly living for Him above all else? Let’s look how we invest our time and our finances, and those will both give us a startling reality check. Also, how are we investing our time with our children? What we truly believe shows up in how we live.
So, what are our goals for our children? Is missions a detestable option and one that we would discourage if our children felt led that direction? Is our true desire for them a life of comfort, health, ease, a good education, a good job, marrying a nice person, having children, living a “happy life”? Let’s all resolve to live with eternity in mind, but also train and love our children with eternity in mind. Let us resolve to want nothing more than for our children to truly KNOW GOD, to be saved by Jesus Christ who alone is worthy of our love and devotion and lives, to enjoy Him forever and serve and enjoy Him in this life with every breath He gives. Are we devoting ourselves to studying the scripture with our children, reading to them about other people who used their lives to serve him (especially missionaries), investing in their walk with the Lord and their character? Or, is our focus on giving them the next best material thing and filling their time primarily with lots of “fun”, temporal activities? Are we giving them what they need and not just what they may want? We need to be asking the same questions of our own lives as well. Am I just living for myself and my comforts, living a “good life”? Am I pouring myself into the eternal? I will end this with a quote from a book that Logan has been reading to us as a family. It has been a challenging and very beneficial use of time, and I highly encourage it:
“How many Christians set their sights on a “Sabbath evening” of life—resting, playing, traveling, and so on—the world’s substitute for heaven, because they do not believe there will be one beyond the grave. The mind-set is that we must reward ourselves in this life for our long years of labor. Eternal rest and joy after death is an irrelevant consideration. What a strange reward for a Christian to set his sights on! Twenty years of leisure while living in the midst of the last days of infinite consequence for millions of unreached people. What a tragic way to finish the last lap before entering the presence of the King who finished his so differently!”
(Quoted from Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper)
As parents, we must help our children to live for more than themselves, but we must all have this mindset until the day the Lord calls us home. I will leave one last quote as I finish. Logan told me of this account of John Paton (from Scotland, coincidentally), who would one day become a missionary to cannibalistic people, and the word he received from his parents as he was criticized by others for leaving a fruitful ministry:
“Heretofore we feared to bias you, but now we must tell you why we praise God for the decision to which you have been led. Your father’s heart was set upon being a Minister, but other claims forced him to give it up. When you were given to them, your father and mother laid you upon the altar their first-born, to be consecrated, if God saw fit, as a Missionary of the Cross; and it has been their constant prayer that you might be prepared, qualified, and led to this very decision; and we pray with all our heart that the Lord may accept your offering, long spare you, and give you many souls from the Heathen World for your hire.”
(Quoted from 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy by John Piper)
For your own eternal good and that of your children and what you’d desire for them, I highly encourage you (and your teens) listen to this sermon by Paul Washer: https://youtu.be/uuabITeO4l8
I hope you can understand the ramblings and passions of this mother for herself and her children, and may we all pour ourselves out for what is eternal and not fleeting trinkets.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20 ESV
I am a wife to Logan and a mother to our 3 precious children (by October they will be 7, 14, & 16). These 2 roles sum up a majority of my purpose in this season of life. However, I am first and foremost a follower of Christ. This sums up my role in every season of my life, and I endeavor to take it very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I believe it must take precedence over every other role that defines me – wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Two summers ago (2018), when Logan and I first began to sense that the Lord really might be leading us to serve Him in overseas missions, I had some wrestling and grieving to do. As a mother, my first thoughts have gone to my children. How will they handle the changes? Will they be resentful that we’ve uprooted them from a life that they love? Will they be safe where we’d be moving? (More on that in part 2) What if they decide to move back to the States after high school and live lives far away from Logan and me rather than choosing to stay and serve in Scotland alongside us? Honestly, that was my biggest source of tears. I love my children. I have invested in them daily since their births and have had very few days apart from them. We’ve chosen to homeschool them as well, so from day 1 of kindergarten until the final day of high school graduation, I will have spent school days with them as well, overseeing their instruction and learning alongside them. Aside from my husband, my children are my closest friends.
Am I prepared to make a choice to serve God, if He leads, that may separate me from them at some point? Here is what I (and all of us as believers) must ask: Is God really real? I mean real enough to be willing to give up the comforts of predictability, surrounded by those we know and love, to serve Him if He asks? Is he worth it? Through my tears two years ago and now while writing this, I respond with a resounding YES!!! Whatever treasure we hold most dear, we must hold it with an open hand and trust a sovereign God. If He has called me, I am compelled within to say I’ll go! I have to trust the results of that decision and my (and my children’s future) in His very capable hands. If He has called Logan and me, then He has called our children as well, at least for this season of their lives. Any struggles we, or they, encounter, we must seek the Lord for help. Here’s my comfort: If He’s called us to it, He will help us through it. That includes if one of our children suffers in some way or if I must one day hug them goodbye in a Scottish airport. The Lord sees me obey through my tears and fears, and I believe He is honored. I want to love Him more than anything in this life. Let’s all hold on to Jesus’s promises and loosen our grip on all else. He gave up absolutely everything for us; how can we not be willing to do the same?
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
A better title to this would be “Six Joys of Establishing The Partnership Base Needed in Order to go and do Gospel Work in The Housing Schemes of Scotland” … since that is actually what we are doing. I would not be the first to point out that the term fundraising falls short of what is actually taking place here. We are not simply out to shake whatever money we can out of folks to meet a said financial goal to do a specific work. We do have a said goal financially, we do have a specific work we will be doing, and we do need money to do all of it. However, we seek individuals and churches who share in our desire to make the Gospel known in areas of Scotland where it is currently largely unknown…the housing schemes.
While I could legitimately write about who and what and where we will be leaving to do ministry and the challenges of establishing a partnership base, time would be better spent focusing on the unique joys of establishing a partnership base to do ministry work. So, just to name a few of the joys…
Seeing individuals and churches getting excited about the work. We believe this is what we should be doing, so it is validating (not to mention a source of joy and encouragement) when others get excited about the work too.
Deepening of already existing relationships. The majority of these relationships will become long-distance instead of local when we move to Scotland in a few months. However, there is something about meeting, eating, visiting, and discussing mission work that deepens relationships that are already there.
Opportunity for new relationships. I believe that from almost every church we’ve been to over the past year have come new relationships. Other believers who we did not know beforehand have now joined together in a common goal of making the Gospel known more in Scotland.
Catching up with old friends. We never know who may be interested in partnering with us in this ministry. In calling up and/or meeting with people we haven’t spoken with in a while (largely because of the busyness of life and living in different areas), we get to catch up a bit and learn of what has been happening in their lives.
Seeing the work that is happening in Scotland. We first learned of 20schemes (the ministry we are working with) two years ago (you can find out more about them here www.20schemes.com). They are doing solid Gospel work, and we are looking forward to joining in the work.
Witnessing God provide. Raising the necessary funds to move a family overseas to do ministry work full time comes with a somewhat intimidating budget, not to mention that life continues to happen while seeking out partnerships. What else can we do except what we can and trust God to provide what we need. He continues to do that abundantly, and we are just humbled and grateful.
These are just a few of the joys, and quite truthfully, not everything has been peachy. There have been times of discouragement and words of criticism have come our way, but it’s not wise to let a passing rain shower ruin an otherwise sunny day.