If you read our first blog post, The Adventure Begins, you already know the last step in our “What Next?” search, our three-week visit to Ecuador this January. But what happened before that? How did we get to that decision?
Over and over, we took “the next reasonable step,” even when we couldn’t see farther than that step.
We were first introduced to this concept at a Finishers Forum in Seattle in May 2011. This was a missions conference (for mostly older people) sponsored by the Finishers Project.
(Another ministry of the Finishers Project is Finishers.org, a website which connects adults like us with Christian organizations which need their experience and skills. Finishers.org led to our first contact from HCJB Global.)
One of the workshop speakers shared that God rarely gives us a road map for our whole journey, but He will always show us the next reasonable step in the journey. And, when we take that step, He will show us the one after that.
Since then, we have often asked, “What’s the next reasonable step?” We pray, research, and discuss. Then we make the best decision we can, and trust God to redirect us if we’ve gotten off track. Although we often feel uncertain and overwhelmed, God has always been faithful.
In June 2011 Scott was researching five or six international organizations, chosen from the ten to fifteen which contacted us through Finishers.org. He checked web sites and read statements of faith, mission statements, and application forms. Through many emails, phone calls, and personal visits, we explored where God might be sending us.
We examined our desires: What did we want from an organization? Where did we want to serve? What spoke to our hearts?
- We knew we wanted to steward well Scott’s extensive accounting experience.
- Scott realized he had a long-dormant desire to be fluent in a foreign language, and Spanish was a language he had already studied.
- We liked the proximity of Latin America, both for our visits home and for friends and family visiting us.
We were open to God redirecting us, but we started with what best matched these desires. We asked God to speak to us through sermons, Bible reading, and conversations. Amazingly, we heard a lot of sermons on Abraham being sent to a country God would show him!
While we were narrowing down our options, HCJB Global invited us to attend Discovery, a 2½ day training for new applicants in July 2011. We would need to formally apply to be missionaries, but the mission understood that we were attending as part of our search. This seemed to be the next reasonable step, a chance for us to learn more and–more importantly–a chance for God to close the door before we went any further with HCJB Global. (If we had known how involved and time-consuming the application process was, we may not have gone, but our ignorance protected us.)
Discovery was very intense, with group sessions on all aspects of the organization. As a couple we were grilled by a theology committee and a financial committee, and our personality test results were discussed. We had individual psychological interviews. Questions which would never be asked in a secular interview were fired at us. We joked that HCJB Global knew more about us than our family and friends!
Despite the uncomfortable level of scrutiny, we felt no “checks” from God, no red flags about the organization’s goals and methods, and no discomfort with the quality and character of the missionaries. We kept searching for things which might be wrong, and found nothing.
We didn’t make our final decision until after our Ecuador visit six months later, but we knew after Discovery that HCJB Global was our leading option. Of the organizations on our list, HCJB Global alone had both a strong Latin America presence and complex accounting needs which would utilize Scott’s accounting experience. We continued in that direction, trusting God to correct us if we were wrong.
We still have much we don’t know: When will we go? Who has God prepared to support us and how do we find them? How will we get everything done? Where are we going to live next month (that’s another story)? Appropriately, the theme of recent sermons at our church has been God’s awesome power–nothing is impossible for Him.
Last weekend, God “closed a door” on some of our plans for getting our business affairs in order before we go. We are asking ourselves, “What does God want us to do?” and we are again looking for the next reasonable step, trusting God to guide us one step at a time.