As we wound our way around the country roads, I could feel my stomach rising and falling synchronously with the hills. We were on our way to the place our story began…and where it also took an unexpected turn.
Almost exactly one year ago, we were driving out to the training center to get answers. We were in a whirlwind of change and trying to understand what had happened and what would happen next.
This week, we were headed to the center to see my supervisors from my first overseas term. They were being recognized in a retirement service, along with other workers who had dedicated their lives to kingdom work. They had always fearlessly supported us, and we were honored to return the favor.
I did have my doubts going into the service, thinking through who we might see, and what they might think of us for being there. But you couldn’t have prepared me for what actually happened that evening.
We walked in and were greeted by leaders who trained us during our time in Canada. They are now all in Richmond, embarking on new journeys in their own lives, so I felt we shared a little camaraderie. We enjoyed reminiscing through our Vancouver time together. It felt loving, warm, welcoming.
The service began. We sang words like:
“All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
These were the same words we sang with the congregation at our wedding.
“Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful”
…words that were significant to us at the end of our time in Canada and Taiwan. But it was the final song that impacted me most:
“How great is our God… and all will see how great, how great is our God.”
We sang the first verse in Bahasa Indonesian – The country that first drew Michael into missions.
The next verse was in Spanish, encompassing the countries where Michael and I met and developed a heart for work together.
We felt God’s presence.
We had just sung through the journey of our life and missions career up to this point. How personal. How Sovereign.
The president of the organization brought the message and it was one of hope. While it was addressed to those who were retiring, I heard it clearly for me:
“Many of you have faced difficulties and struggles in your work. While you are ending your time of service with us, that doesn’t mean your time of service is over. You are just embarking into a new stage of ministry. You will still pray for the people you met; a piece of your heart will always be with them. You still have a heart for missions. That won’t ever change.”
And the healing came – in ways I didn’t even know I needed it.
As we celebrated the lifetimes of sacrificial service, I also felt God was showing us one chapter was closed, and another has been opened. He has never left us to figure things out on our own, even in the most difficult moments. We are so undeserving of the goodness He has shown us and we are so excited to be on the journey He has for us.