Growing up in the midwest I have learned to appreciate the bounty of changes caused by onset of the seasonal changes. It’s odd but as a child the first season for me was always “fall”. I was never a fan of summer – the hot sultry, humid days were long and in my opinion best dealt with in the comfort of being inside in the AC.
But fall not only ushered in the sweet relief from the heat and humidity, I actually feel more “alive” with the start of each fall, for me it has always been a season for change. It ushered in a new season of football – watching and playing, campfires and cookouts, hikes and drives through the forest with all the radiant colors of the changing leaves. I get the oddness of how the “death” of the leaves brings me more alive, but I think that in a way it is almost scriptural – the physical death is just a phase, for the believer it has lost its sting.
As we entered the fall of 2014 I was sensing that God had something just ahead, to be fair it was one of those feelings to “be on guard”, or “DANGER AHEAD”, not the typical fall, a new beginning, or rebirth, feeling that is typical in my life.
There were several challenges some close friends were going through, as well as the constant challenges I faced at my work, but it was “more” than that. I can remember several “half hearted” prayers being offered up – “God bring me clarity and settle this uneasy feeling I am having” – in a way I think I was praying for God to reveal to me what He had in mind. I sensed something was up ahead and patience has never been a strength of mine.
My journey with African Vision of Hope began in September of 2014. I was introduced to the organization while our church hosted a women’s retreat at which the Women’s Ministry was spotlighted. During that weekend I felt God leading me to “Go Serve“. Initially I wasn’t sure if he meant here or in Zambia. I led a very hectic life. We 3 children – 2 at the time still school, I serve as a Vice President over a very busy Information Technology team, I had a handful of clients I assisting with various levels of IT consulting and support, and I was in the middle of taking over as pastor of a small church in Southwest Missouri. I was really questioning God on what He was laying on my heart – “spare time” was not a reality to my life.
The more I prayed about how God wanted me to serve – the answer back was “both”. Half heartedly I threw my name out to go on the August 2015 mission trip – initially knowing there would be plenty of time to back out – after all it would only take a small diversion at work to create a credible excuse.
The following weeks would turn into months and nothing was getting in the way – I had been cleared to go – then God during a quiet time and told me – “your wife is to go as well”. I can still remember approaching Dawn on the subject and after prayer and discussion, we both agreed we were on board.
Multiple times over the next few months we would see God step into the middle of things to keep the door open and the trip on schedule. This included meeting all of the financial needs (yes two people with trip and pre-trip expenses is no small matter), squashing an original diagnosis of a cancerous tumor on my left kidney (we were weeks into the process and treatment when they discovered they were wrong and it wasn’t cancer), and so many work and family complications that I can’t begin to list everything. Needless to say there were multiple times I was minutes away from calling the team to inform them “this is off until next year”. Every time God would step in and keep things on track – according to His Schedule.
Seeing God work in this way had become so normal that with only weeks before we left, having a complete stranger at the time, seated next to me on a flight from Chicago to Springfield (a flight I wasn’t scheduled to be on), tell me “God want’s me to tell you something” didn’t even seem strange. It was a God thing and the message was well received, and I am so thankful for Kari “Smalley” Gibson being obedient to God and for having the courage to speak up.
By July of 2015 I had no idea of “what God was doing” but I was open for whatever he wanted to show or teach. What had started the pervious fall had carried over through the winter, through the spring, and then into the summer. This had been a seriously long season, a season of seeing His words jump off the pages of scripture and we were resting in his promises through the good and challenging days of our life.