And I hear this accusatory little voice in my head saying, “Can’t you fickle, flighty people do ANYTHING for longer than a year??” Abbey Lane for a year. Phnom Penh for a year. HPC for less than a year. (Not to mention the time you worked at a church camp for a year. Or went to zoos for a year.)
WHAT MAKES THIS NEW THING ANY DIFFERENT?
And, first things first, I tell the little voice to please BITE ME.
And then I tell it, guess what, NO SHAME. God is writing this story, not us. And, apparently, he likes us to be on the go, moving forward, not staying in one place for long.
Now. Do we WANT to stay in one place for awhile and be settled and really dig down deep and invest? YES. But we’ll see what God has planned.
Speaking of accusatory voices, I heard a million of them in my head after our meeting with Jan and Marleen.
Last we chatted here on the blog (Part 3), I left you with our crap hitting the fan.
Everything in our family just all fell apart. And it’s the kind of Fell-Apart that I’m not even going to go into on this blog, because some things are just better left between close friends and family and not for public consumption. I reached out to several people back in the States for prayer, and my friends here were also amazing and encouraging, and that’s all we needed.
I will say this. There was yelling and screaming and anger and accusations and despair and relationships that felt irreparable and blah blah blah.
And the voices said, “Ha ha ha. You think you’re fit to lead a community outreach program AS A FAMILY?? You all hate each other and can’t get along and YOU BASICALLY SUCK SO MUCH. This is laughable that you think you’re qualified to do this. LAUGHABLE. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Thankfully, we have some pretty amazing friends. Because here are the kinds of things they said to us, even AFTER they heard all the details about our mess:
“I just know God has something big planned for your family. And the devil is fighting against it HARD.”
“God doesn’t use perfect people. He doesn’t need your act to be together before he can use you at Freedom.”
“Your family is STILL inspiring to me, maybe even MORE so because you are honest about your crap.”
Thank you, friends. Seriously. Thank you.
Two days before we’re scheduled to meet again with Jan and Marleen, Gabe and I are on his moto, heading home from church. I tell him we need to sit down and have a talk before our meeting on Tuesday. He says we’re sitting down now, go ahead and talk.
Um, okay. So, I lean forward and yell into his helmet.
We talk about Freedom. We’re both passionate about telling people’s stories, about reaching people for Jesus, we’re not super excited about a bunch of pointless meetings (this is the life I envision for the leader of something new–meetings, meetings, and more meetings, yuck, yuck, and more yuck).
Then I ask him about the State of Our Family. Things go south quick. By the time we get home (it’s about a 9-minute ride home from church), we’re not speaking to each other.
The next day, we sit down and have a productive conversation. We each come up with 4 things we want to do. We think we will probably tell Jan and Marleen that we want to be involved with the Community Outreach Program but not lead it. That feels like a bit much.
We will share these things that are on our hearts:
Gabe wants to: 1.) train a handful of young people to do web design/photography/whatever to help them earn a living. 2.) reach out to the creative community (photographers, painters, designers) in Siem Reap. 3.) partner with a guy at church to offer monthly training sessions to the community. 4.) organize a communications system for the community outreach at Freedom Centre. 5.) take & share photos that show God’s glory.
I want to: 1.) tell people’s stories–and help them learn how to tell them better themselves. 2.) help people find their passion and a place to serve (primarily through the Freedom Centre). 3.) Impact the neighborhood around our church in an amazing way. 4.) have time to work on my own writing/advocating. 5.) keep studying Khmer pretty seriously. And 6.) keep up with the lives of our friends, family, and supporters back in the States & sharing what God is doing here as well.
Tuesday comes. We meet with Jan and Marleen. The meeting is, um, pretty amazing.
And by the end of it?
We are the new leaders of the yet-to-be-named Community Outreach Program of Freedom Church, Siem Reap.
(I do not know how this happened.)
Actually, I do know how it happened. God told Jan exactly how to get to us.
By telling me that there would not be lots of purposeless, boring meetings. That my main role would be that of encourager/inspirer, showing people how they can become all God wants them to be. Casting vision for them when they can’t see it for themselves yet.
(Um, yes, please and thank you.)
By telling us that we’ll start small but start SOON. That there is NO PRESSURE to get things right, knowing that failure is part of the game.
By reminding us that our vision will always be bigger than our resources but that we have the richest Father who owns everything.
By telling us that our whole entire point will be to raise up leaders who will take everything over. In no way will all of the responsibility fall on our shoulders.
Marleen reiterates this and says that we will not be allowed to overload ourselves or burn out.
They invite us to the very first Leadership Hub that will take place the following evening. All the C-group leaders and Host Team Leaders and Next Steps Leaders will be there. They will announce this new thing and that we’ll be leading it.
(And you are welcome that this is not really a cliffhanger. But Post 5 will lay out what this will look like for our family, our church, and how YOU can be involved.)
(And, oh yeah, something exciting we’re starting in our home. You can be a part of that too!!)
(And one other fun project.)
(Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry. I WILL GET RIGHT ON POST FIVE.)