Where to begin…it’s always the question! I’ll give you as much history as I can without totally overwhelming you. Does that sound good? If you have questions, you can always leave a comment and we’d be happy to answer! So, here we go!
About a year and a half ago Matt and I sensed the Lord leading us in the direction of international missions. It pretty much came out of left field for Matt, and maybe more like shallow left field for me…I had had one dream over and over as a kid and a teen, where I was doing ministry in a foreign country, so missions wasn’t totally off my personal radar. Still, we have been established in youth ministry in the St. Louis metropolitan area for 8 years and had assumed (haha…that’ll teach us!) that this was where God wanted us. So, missions. It was a big thing to process, but process, and talk, and pray, and cry, and dream we did! As we moved forward we first settled on a sending agency: it made sense to move forward with Foursquare Mission International because we are part of ministry with Foursquare already at our home church, so we attended their missions orientation in Los Angeles last October (2015). We didn’t know specifically what country we were headed to, but that was okay because we felt the Holy Spirit impressing on us a general region: Western Europe. We knew God would direct in His timing. Fast forward to January 2016 and we’d begun conversing with some seasoned missionaries who were re-deploying (after years back in the states) to Vienna, Austria. Guys, you know when you enter into relationships that you just know are God-ordained? This was one of those relationships, and after many Skype conversations just getting to know them and developing a ministry plan, we ended up traveling to Vienna on a scouting trip the first two weeks of July 2016, hoping that the Lord would confirm within us that Vienna would be the location we would deploy to.
Guys…God is so good and so gracious. Proverbs 16:9 (NAS) says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” So true. See, in hindsight it’s easy to see the path and how it all works together, but in the moment, you just hang on to God, knowing He will always be faithful to lead and direct (and course-correct!) if you are willing to listen and obey. During our time in Vienna we felt so strongly about Austria, and working and doing ministry with, Austrians! So strongly. But we were presented with a possibility: there was the chance that the Foursquare European Council might not want another set of American missionaries in Vienna and would we be interested in exploring another city (Linz). Our immediate answer was “yes”. We always want to be flexible and explore whether or not something is God, and we knew beyond a doubt that Austria was where God wanted us. But I won’t lie: the night we were asked that question was bad and I fell asleep crying because I just felt confused. But God is gracious. See, we had some plans in our minds, but God directs our steps and He always operates in peace! So we visited Linz and spent a day with ministry leaders there…and we fell in love with the city.
Fast forward two months…two months during which I won’t claim patience…and we’ve conversed, documented, budgeted, and emailed so many times that I can’t even keep track. We’ve got an informally approved budget, a ministry proposal that is being reviewed in Europe, and as of today, a “yes” from ministry leaders in Linz, Austria for us to come partner with them in ministry and work on their church staff! Excited, overwhelmed, nervous…so many emotions come with moving forward throughout this process, but we know one thing: God directs our steps, and in that we are FULLY convinced and completely content. Amen!