It’s only been a week since our nation’s “huge” presidential election.
But I have some exciting (non-political) news to share!
To quickly recap: My whole life, my heart has felt a pull toward the nations. I was an Army brat with a global worldview from a very young age. Getting pregnant and married at age 19 put a pause on doing much besides raising kids and trying to grow up, but in January 2015, I felt the Lord speak to me that He would be taking our family out of the U.S. to serve the nations. When and where, I did not know, so I held the idea loosely and waited for more information.
In June 2015, Kurt went with a group from Lifegate to our campus in Novi Sad, Serbia. He came back insisting that I go with him “next time.” In the late fall 2015, we were asked to lead a team back to Novi Sad the following summer. We said “yes.”
In January 2016, after a time of corporate fasting, God dropped an idea into my mind that exploded my heart into a million shiny pieces. He said our family would be part of helping establish a Lifegate Campus in the Balkan region. (For more information about Lifegate’s 40-year vision, check out this message.) I called Kurt and freaked him out, and then shared my thoughts with several pastors at Lifegate.
In June of 2016, Kurt and I led a team to Serbia, and it was amazing. While there, we met with some of the leaders at Lifegate Novi Sad and discussed our possible future in the Balkans. We came home and shared the conversation with several of the Lifegate pastors here in Omaha.
I write this to give you all context for what’s coming next.
See, we’ve been listening to the Call for a while. Now, we’re approaching the Send.
I wish everyone could visit our (now two!) campuses in Serbia. This team in Serbia has some of the bravest, kindest, most generous people I have ever met. They are pioneers in that area. Here, in the U.S., we take for granted a rich history of protestant Christianity. But the ground in Serbia is being tilled by hand, one life at a time. People in that part of the world (including the thousands of refugees) do not need another “system” or “religion.” They need a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus. As do we all.
The opportunities are plentiful, but the workers are few. The team on the ground there is not very big at all, and they are doing everything for two campuses. They need our support – physically, financially, spiritually.
This is where I believe God is calling Kurt and me and our kids.
We have the opportunity to travel to Novi Sad in January 2017 to help with a youth retreat for Lifegate students. Most of the youth group consists of children of team members, and they need some refreshment, perspective, and attention from people other than their parents. How better to show them they are valuable than to travel halfway around the world just to hang out? We’re going to love on them, disciple them, worship with them, and have fun with them. Our eventual goal is to help build up a core group of students and begin to establish the next generation of life-giving leaders in the Balkans.
Kurt and I will leave January 4th and return January 12th. And we couldn’t be more excited! As always, though, we can’t do it without the prayer and financial support of those who believe in our calling and Lifegate’s ministry in the Balkans.
As far as our kids?
Our plan is to take all 5 kids with us to Serbia next summer for 6 weeks. We will leave at the end of May after school lets out and return mid-July before the boys’ summer camp.
Why? Because we feel called to a longer-term assignment, and this first six week trip will give us a good indication of how our kids would feel about that. Because they have all been born and raised at Lifegate and will bring Lifegate DNA with them to Novi Sad and Belgrade. Because they need to see a world outside of the suburban Midwest. Because this is the opportunity that has been set before us.
The three oldest kids (who will be 16, 14, and 11) are super excited. The younger two (who will be 4 and almost 2) have no idea what’s going on. But they’ll love it.
We will be in place to help support the Lifegate Serbia teams in whatever way they need. We’ll be available to help lead worship, to help with kids and youth, to help host other U.S. teams who may come, to help with Lifegate Open Days and the Rock and Roll Music Camp (same as last year), and whatever else is put in front of us.
My mom asked, “won’t people just think you’re asking them to pay for a family vacation?”
No… if we were going to crowd-fund a family vacation, I’m thinking like a Disney Cruise or something…
Some others have asked, “Can’t you accomplish the same things – leading worship, exposing kids to new experiences, etc. – right here in your own back yard?”
Yes! Definitely! And this door has also been opened to us, so we’re going to make ourselves available to this opportunity as well!
So… How do I know that this is from the Lord and not some insane idea brought on by sleep deprivation?
Time, confirmation, and opportunity.
We didn’t sell our house and get our passports in January 2015. We held tight, served, and waited. And slowly, God has brought overwhelming confirmation to us and has given us opportunities that leave us saying, “How did this even happen?!”
I could spend another 1,000 words explaining how I feel God has specifically designed our family dynamic, individual temperaments, and overall story to perfectly suit this calling, but I’ll save that for another possible post.
In the meantime, I know there are so many opportunities to give, especially this time of year, but I’m asking especially my Lifegate family to consider investing in Lifegate Novi Sad’s and Lifegate Belgrade’s youth. Every little bit counts. And whatever is leftover from our January trip will roll into our family’s fund for next summer.
Please feel free to email me with any questions. I’m so grateful to all of you for your love, support, and prayers.
Love you all,