#144 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff 

About five years ago my husband and I felt called into ministry—specifically missions. We put our house up for sale and headed to Indonesia in Southeast Asia on a vision trip. We met with the agency we would be serving with and became familiar with the city and schools. We felt affirmed in our call, but when we got home we received a call from the agency saying it wasn’t going to work out. It was a denominational issue. We were members of a Christian Church and it was a Baptist agency. This was devastating news. We had felt so sure that God was calling us to missions. We looked again to the story of Abraham and Isaac, asking ourselves if we were ready to give it all up, and we felt we were.

This was followed by five years of seeking what God would have us to do. We decided to just be obedient to the step in front of us. We felt our call was to become radical disciples and to make radical disciples who would then make radical disciples. My husband went on staff at our church and we began inviting people into our home, pointing them to Jesus.

About two years ago, we moved from the church where my husband was on staff to another church in our community. Our new church is very involved in mission work and has two church plants in Colombia. My husband and I decided to go on a mission trip to Colombia with a group from our new church. I felt the trip could be the answer to our call to the mission field. I told my husband on the plane ride over, “You know after this trip we are going to move to Colombia and become missionaries.” He agreed. We both loved Colombia and the people of the country, but on the plane ride home when I asked my husband about it he said, “God really affirmed that Harrison County (the county where we live) is our mission field and we are already are missionaries.” I felt the same way.

Shortly after this our pastor called us and said that a ministry that serves pregnant women in crisis planned to open a location in our town. The director of the ministry had called our pastor and told him the kind of person they were looking for in a director. He told me that he thought I had the qualities that fit and asked if I was interested in the job. At the time, my husband worked as an unpaid volunteer in a mission agency and I was the breadwinner for the family. I had a good job in sales for an advertising agency. My husband and I talked about it. This would mean a $40,000 pay cut per year and we would lose benefits. At first, we felt there was no way possible. We couldn’t pay our bills on this salary. We called our pastor and he challenged us to pray: “Lord, I am taking this job. Make it clear to us if this is NOT the way. Even though we don’t see how this would work financially, we are moving forward, trusting that You will show us if this is not what we are to do.” From this time on we had peace.

I started the job in January of 2017 and from the very beginning God has provided so many opportunities to love and serve. While this job doesn’t provide the income of my corporate job, it is so fulfilling and rewarding. I have met many wonderful people.

God is faithful, even when I am not. Especially when I am not. My husband now has a paid job with the mission agency. God has not only provided financially but also has provided a strong community of support in our church. He has opened small doors for us, and as we go through He opens another. He continues to lead us. We don’t know what the future holds but we are just looking for the next step. God will be faithful. He has always been faithful.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#104. Missionaries in the Mountains: Living in Response to God

 

Photo by Amy Wallen Photography

For 12 years, I spent summers on short-term mission trips, serving with a ministry in the mountains of Kentucky. One year I was in charge of planning a short-term mission trip to the area in July for a group at our church. I had been praying for God to show me how He wanted our group to serve—what we were to do on the mission trip—but I wasn’t sensing any direction. It was June and the group was set to go to the mountains in July.  

I was already at the ministry where we were going to serve in the mountains. I was desperate to know how I was going to lead this group. I started praying, “God, You have to help me. The people from our church have taken vacation days and will be spending their time to come here. I don’t have a clue what You want us to do.” And then I waited.

Not long after this I received a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. Now, I am not very tech savvy and don’t typically send or receive text messages. And it was a miracle that I even received a text message because I had no cell service in that region of the mountains. The text message read, “God answers prayer.” This gave me an immediate peace. I knew God heard my prayer and would answer.

Then next morning I ran into the man that runs the housing for the volunteers who come to serve with the ministry in the mountains. He said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. There is so much work that needs to be done on this building.” Shortly after this I talked with another fellow who needed help that our group could provide. Not even 24 hours after my prayer, God had provided the answer I needed. I knew how to lead the volunteers and what we were to do to help the ministry and the community. 

Since this experience, my wife and I felt called to join the ministry full-time. A little over a year ago, we left the security of the world to follow God. We moved to the mountains of Kentucky to serve as missionaries. We have learned to live a life of response to God. We pray. We wait. We watch for God to show up. And God shows up. He is trustworthy and faithful to answer our prayers.

He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name. 

Amos 4:13

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#103. Missionaries in the Mountains: Surrender and Abundance

 

Photo by Amy Wallen Photography

My wife and I had both worked at a stable in Mississippi, and then God led me to attend seminary. I attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina and I can remember some of the faculty asking me what I wanted to do after I graduated. I told them I wanted to use horses to share God’s love with kids! This was met with some raised eyebrows and “not sure about that” expressions on their faces. I have to admit this was a non-conventional path for a seminary graduate. In fact, I had no idea of how this might come to fruition. It was September, with graduation approaching in December, and I didn’t even know where to begin looking for this kind of ministry opportunity.

Shortly after this I was able to attend the Equestrian Ministries International conference where I met the man that led this ministry. His insights were very helpful to me. This was followed by my attending a conference at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, where I learned of an equine ministry in the mountains of Kentucky that was looking for a director. My wife and I spent a week in the mountains meeting the founders of this ministry. It was wonderful and I felt drawn to take the job. 

But after I returned home I began to doubt…it was 2008 in the middle of the financial crisis and this job did not offer any pay. I had a wife and a child to take care of. I sent the founder of the ministry a very long email about my concerns, but essentially my question to him was, “How can I take this job with no pay?” He emailed me back with only one sentence:

“If this is where God wants you, then God will take care of the rest.” 

A simple but profound answer that spoke powerfully to me. My wife and I agreed to pray separately that night about what the Lord would have us to do. At this point, I was ready to lay it all down and give up my idea of ministry through horses. I wanted what God wanted, and I prayed earnestly for God to reveal His will to me. It was then, through my complete surrender to God, that I received clarity and direction. By midnight, I knew the mountains of Kentucky was where we were to go.

My wife felt the same direction from her prayers that night. I accepted the position of director and we moved to the mountains of Kentucky.

God has continued to bless our family and the ministry since we moved here eight years ago. We now have four children and God has provided in every way, including financially. He has provided a beautiful place for the ministry with 25 acres, 3 stables, 24 stalls, an arena, trails, and a classroom. God has given us the opportunity to share the love of Jesus while on horseback. At our Lil Buckaroo Boot Camp, kids learn how to care for and ride horses while also singing songs and participating in scripture reading. We also work with a local elementary school to love, encourage, and teach children who have autism about riding and caring for horses. 

I was on a journey to find out God’s will for my life. I had to step outside of my comfort zone to do so. His ways were much different than mine. I received the call and was a bit resistant initially. As a man, I was looking for security, as I had a family to provide for. But God was looking for me to surrender to Him and all He had for me. When I did, He showed up and has provided for us abundantly.

I appeal to you therefore, brother by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.