Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) Abram took his wife Sarai and His brother’s son, Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Harah; and they set forth to go the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12:5).
A couple weeks ago our new pastor (who knew nothing of our plans) preached on this passage from Genesis. Jeff sitting the choir loft and myself sitting in the pews at church, we couldn’t help but lock eyes almost instantly; enormous smiles appeared on both of us which turned into silent chuckles and for me even tears of just complete shock and joy and fear and every other emotion you could imagine. I was so taken back by the sermon and I can remember feeling like this was another one of God’s messages to us that this is what we are supposed to be doing; we were on the right path and we just need to trust Him.
Now I will give you some context for how we came to this decision…It was sometime last year, early summer 2017 that one of my high school teachers posted something on Facebook that sparked a conversation between Jeff and I. Mr. Allen had posted that as he was approaching retirement he wanted to buy an old bus, paint it “hippie style” and take 50 kids or so around the USA for a year, stopping at all the historical sites around the country. I can remember thinking how amazing this would be, so I brought this up to Jeff, really just as a conversation, not really with any intention of doing this. However the more we talked about how neat this would be for us, we decided that we could totally do this! We are just renting our house, so we decided that we could sell one of the cars and most of our belongings, buy an RV and tour the USA while homeschooling the children. Well, this conversation continued for about a week or so, but then we started talking some more about this and we agreed that if we were going to do this, we needed to think bigger. We both felt called to not just travel and explore, but to serve others. This conversation continued and before we knew what was happening, it quickly became a call from God (or call it open doors, whatever you’d prefer) to serve others around the world; people from totally different cultures and worlds would be more impactful for us and for the children. Thus started the conversation about traveling abroad and serving those most in need. Initially we started to look at volunteer organizations around the world that would accept children, but what we found was quite discouraging, most places wouldn’t allow the children to participate in the volunteer work and most of these organizations were “voluntourism” (basically a vacation where you can do some volunteering). Voluntouring was NOT what we were being called to do. We were beginning to think that maybe this was not what we were supposed to do…but just when God closes one door He opens a new one. We found a book at the library, Wide Open World by John Marshall that was about his family’s experience doing volunteer work around the world. After reading this book, we found opportunities to volunteer in rural Thailand teaching English with an organization called Volunthai and a Presbyterian orphanage in northeastern India on the border of Nepal called The Good Shepherd Argricultural Farm. Both of these opportunities were discussed in the book and when we contacted them they were more than welcoming to us, even the children. As time continued to go on we realized that there are few, if any, organizations out there to help families wanting to do volunteer work around the world find opportunities, thus began Casting Off Globally (COG), our non-profit organization which has the purpose of linking families with organizations around the world that would accept the help of families with children. We have been very blessed to have the support of our interim pastor and now our current pastor, as well as a few friends that have been able to connect us with churches and communities around the world who continue to open their doors to us.
God’s call is very much alive and real. As long as we continue to be open to hearing His word, He continues to lead us down this path; He is planning this for us and leading us to the unknown. We have found so much joy and faith in trusting His call and letting go of the idea of being in control. We do not know where this will lead. We do not known what will happen while we are away for year living amongst the poor, the lonely, the destitute, but we are confident that He will guide us and that He will keep us in His loving arms. We do not know what will happen when we come back; will we go back to same life we have now, will we do something completely different, will we do this again? There are so many questions for which we don’t have answers, but then I am sure Abram and Sarai had questions, doubts, and fears too. Yet they followed God’s call and He provided for them, just as He will provide for us, if we trust and have faith in Him.