Four years ago my husband and I moved our family to Indonesia. We’d spent the previous decade studying and working to gain the experience needed to serve in a highly skilled capacity overseas. Just when we paid off all our debt and actually started making nice salaries with great benefits, we left and began living on donations from friends and family.
On the one hand, it was an incredibly exciting time. We were finally doing it! We made the leap! On the other hand, it seemed really stupid.
We made good money – Why not just donate?
Our skills are useful in the US too – Why not stay and serve in our own community?
But moving overseas isn’t the first crazy thing we’ve done. It was just the biggest in a long chain of little events spread throughout the previous decade. If you looked at the pattern of our life, you could see it coming.
When people ask about why we moved overseas they usually start the conversation by asking about our calling, as if one day God just dropped the missions bomb and said, “You are called to Indonesia. Go.” Maybe this happens to some people, but it didn’t happen to us.
It’s more that we like other cultures, see in scripture how much God loves the world, want to use our skills to serve where needed most, and enjoy the added bonus of feeling a great sense of personal fulfillment serving overseas.
If I get right down to it, we chose to serve overseas because we really wanted to.
The want to has been growing in us since directionless teenage years. When we got married we took that want to and prayed for direction, discussed it with mentors and family, and looked for opportunity. In the process God did something really wonderful – He opened doors for us to go.
Recently I thought back over some of the doubts I had before we left. It can feel like we chose some hard alternate reality to live in. Especially in the difficult times overseas I wonder what would have happened if we’d just stayed, if we hadn’t chosen this other life when God brought the opportunity.
Would we be happier? Would we feel more secure financially? Would we be healthier people?
In our case, we actually have a lot of the answers to our doubts. The job I loved with a great salary has changed dramatically. My husband’s job would likely have been terminated. Even the center I’d volunteered at and considered my ministry has closed down. I would have lost my old life whether we moved overseas or not.
Herein lies my peace: There are no guarantees in life save God’s unshakeable love.
That’s where we plant ourselves, driving roots deep in the love of Christ. As we know and experience Christ’s love for us as individuals it grows and extends, pushing outward towards the hurting. Our want to merges with God’s passionate pursing love for the lost and His want to becomes our own.
We moved overseas because we wanted to and God gave the opportunity to. We’ve stayed because the love of Christ compels us.
I don’t know how long we will have opportunity to serve overseas, but I know we can trust Him with our future. We can continue to bring our desires to God and step through the doors He opens. We can delve deep into God’s love and let it lead.
Overseas or not, that love always leads to the hurting.
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
(2 Corinthians 5: 14-15)