Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
Last weekend Dan and I took a road trip to Oswego, Illinois to visit with Art and Dorothy and discuss GECHAAN and make plans for our futures. We had a wonderful time dreaming and talking about the realities there in Nigeria right now and about the future and possibilities of many positive new things that are going on there. While we were there, Dorothy called Vincent, the person in charge while they are in the States. He told them that they boarded up the house and didn’t work for a couple of days because of the safety level right now. That is a reality in Nigeria right now. The unrest that a lot of the world is experiencing is affecting GECHAAN and Gembu as well.
I thought of this verse in Proverbs 16:9, God knows what His plans are for GECHAAN, He is the one who has worked mightily there and done amazing things there. We need to make sure that we are truly hearing His voice and listening to the wisdom that only He can give.
Today I ask that you pray for safety for Art and Dorothy as they go back to Nigeria, safety on the compound (they have started building our security wall ) we have about 5% of the funds raised to complete the security wall, this is a must-do. Both Art and Dorothy and Dan and I have been working on raising funds for this along with some wonderful helpers here in the States.
Please also pray that Dan and I make the right connections with individuals and churches to share GECHAAN’s story with them and ask them to stand beside us.
My point for today is this: We have many plans, we need to work toward where we think God is leading, but we also need to listen so that we can hear his leading. We need to hold our plans loosely in our hands so that we can truly do His work where He has planted us!
Mark 10:21-26 tells us “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” He told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
This passage speaks to me today in a whole new way now that Dan and I are in the stage of life that we are currently in. I used to think, “That would really stink to be that man”. What do you say to Jesus when He tells you to get rid of all that you own and know and follow Him? “Um, Jesus, yeah, about that, I think I’d rather not, but thank you for the offer, I’ll see you around.”
When Dan and I were approached with the opportunity to go to GECHAAN and join Art and Dorothy there, we didn’t even consider what that meant. Currently, I am starting to realize all of the many little details and changes that means. I am sorting through all of the worldly possessions we have had for at least 30 years and deciding what can keep for at least 10-15 years in storage and we may need then and what we don’t need. What we can sell, what we need to give to family members. If you think about it, there are so few things that we TRULY need. It boggles my brain that we have so much “STUFF”. I truly used to pack my stuff in wherever I could fit it. I liked my stuff, I took care of my stuff, I liked organizing my stuff and figured I would have it for my whole life. Well, God has shown me a different plan in inviting us to join Him in His work in Nigeria.
We were asked if this was our “dream”, to move to Nigeria and work at a HIV/AIDS clinic, gotta say, “No, hadn’t occurred to me EVER”. Who dreams of that? I know some people do dream of moving off and changing their lives. I have to say I have never been that sort of person. I hate change, I don’t even move my furniture EVER. If I have it right where I like it, that’s where it stays. I don’t think I have changed anything in our house for about 10 years. I have a very adverse reaction to change, it puts me out of total control, and I am not terribly comfortable with that. I like my predictable life. I, in fact really enjoy it!
This morning driving to the coffee shop to get my Cold press, I passed the same lady that always walks her dog, the same guy with the too short shorts jogging, Greg, the seemingly homeless, mentally challenged man that walks down our street with a sign that says, “I heart Jesus of Nazareth”. the same daycare provider taking her charges for a short walk to the park. I love my town, I love my life, I hate change.
Why then would my husband of the last 30 years and I decide that at this time in our lives God was calling us to get rid of everything we know and move off to Nigeria as missionaries? We have heard the call. That is the only “sane” way I can explain it. God has planted in our hearts the desire to serve Him and we really believe that He has a job for us all the way across the world. What about you? Are you listening? What is God trying to tell you?
My point for today is this, if you’re not listening to God’s call, what are you listening to? Make sure there is room in your life to hear His voice and recognize who it is that is calling you.
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
At the Hospital of the Immaculate Conception in Makurdi we met Dr. Steve and the woman who was, I believe, the chaplain. After spending the night there, she came around in the morning with her 5 month old niece who she is raising because her sister died in childbirth. This hospital experience as well as the other hospital experience in Bali gave me a different understanding of medical care. In America, we go to the Dr. at any given opportunity. In Nigeria medical care is survival care. One in two children die before the age of 5. In our country that is just not acceptable. We have books, resources, stuff coming out of our ears. Our hospital experience in Nigeria made me see that there are many, many other things that I have taken for granted being blessed to be born in America.
After we left the Makurdi hospital, we headed for the airport in Abuja, and caught the plane to go home. When we arrived in Newark, New Jersey, Dan had cell service again, so checked his phone messages. We were surprised to find that a number of T.V. stations had called him and wanted to interview us because of the shooting incident. We were quite shocked about this because we didn’t even tell our family members. We thought it would be much easier to say, “Tina got shot in the leg, but here she is standing right in front of you and ok”. Not something you want to call someone and tell when you are still in Africa! Dan called our family members briefly and said that I had been shot, but we were in America, and doing fine. Then he called the T.V. news stations and said that we would not meet them at the airport when we got home as we had not slept in a few days. We would make appointments to meet with them the following day.
We met with our counseling Pastor, Bob, for a post-traumatic stress counseling session, and then started meeting with the press. We were so delighted that they allowed us to focus on the wonderful work that is being done in Gembu, Nigeria through GECHAAN, and not on the shooting. We really felt blessed to be able to spread GECHAAN’s message in this way.
After experiencing running water and steady electricity again, it just felt so strange to be back home when our hearts and minds really felt like they were still in Nigeria. This is kind of hard when you have to go back to a busy job and your life here and it’s demands.
In April, we went to Chicago to meet with the Overseers Board of our denomination and were accepted as Missionaries to Nigeria by Converge (formerly Baptist General Conference). In June, we went to the Biannual meeting and were commissioned as missionaries and had our first Missionary training retreat (that is a story in itself!). This is our journey thus far. We are currently working on raising support and developing partnerships with churches and individuals so that we can go back and continue the work in Nigeria. That is how God has been preparing us and leading us for this time. I know He has more for us to learn and experience as we go about this journey, but that brings us to now.
My point for today is that even though we have a little peek at what God’s plan is for us and where He’ll be leading us, we still need to do our part and cross our T’s and dot our I’s. I love this saying, “Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you”. We didn’t head off to Nigeria saying, “This is where God is leading us, He’ll take care of us.” He will, but we still have other work to do before we even get to that!