If you remember, we left off at the climax of our ‘Jonah experience.’ If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you may want to read part one and two first.
Back on dry ground, we ventured the two thousand miles to ‘Nineveh’ (Nova Scotia) for a six-week trial period. You see, though we were quite certain this was God’s will for us, we still lacked confidence. Our pastor friend continued looking for church-plant funding, but nothing was settled. Perhaps, like Jonah’s spot on the hill, this exploratory time was our self-made shelter to see what would happen.
It may be expedient to share the tests along the way (we were literally packing up and on our way to Nova Scotia!). My Love was offered a job (he had interviewed with this company months before without hearing a word) in the same town as my mother-in-law’s church. Again, we felt like this little church was our home church, our family. After a slight hesitation, he turned it down, explaining that he had made a commitment, but perhaps upon returning in six weeks, they could talk again if the offer was still open. (Hedging bets much?) En route, he received another phone call. This time, from a large corporation in beautiful Prince Edward Island (it ‘just so happened’ that we were on the island at the time). Wow. Another moment of hesitation. Then strong conviction. No. We were committed to Nova Scotia until the Lord showed us otherwise.
My Love kept a journal of this time, recording his thoughts, fears, and answers to prayer. I, too, did some journaling at this time. We met with the core group of Christians eagerly awaiting a church of their own and felt a strong connection with them. We spent time with lovely believers in our sending church and were refreshed.
This time was not without its own complications. The home we stayed in did not have phone or internet hooked up for a few days, and there was no cell service in this area. When I was finally able to hear messages on my phone, I learned that my mother’s sister had passed away. I felt terrible. I could not be there to console my mother or to gather with family to remember my aunt. The mountains seemed to hem me in and I felt trapped and isolated. I cried out to God, “Where have you brought us?”
At the end of the six-week timeframe, the elders from the sending church met together to decide on the fit; they met also with the core group to hear their thoughts and feelings. We were accepted unanimously.
It was bittersweet going back to Ontario to prepare for our permanent move. We made a quick stop in PEI first, but left abruptly as our first grandlittles made their dramatic entrance into the world.
We spent a few weeks in Ontario, helping our boy and his little family, as we were able. Tearfully, our goodbyes were said to family, friends and our precious new grandlittles, and off we went. With the aid of a friend’s trailer, we moved some of our belongings and the move took on a feeling of finality.
Important fact number 1: We still did not have a home of our own to move into (it was difficult to secure a place to rent or buy in the church-plant town).
Important fact number 2: The balance of our bank account? Zero.
Unlike Jonah, we did not harbour bitterness in this turn of events. While the ‘plant’ (our savings) that God supplied shrivelled up and died, we did not grow upset. This is not to say that we did not struggle with the logistics of making ends meet, but we were convinced that God would supply all our needs as we served Him in this remote (at least to us) community.
It took us two more moves and a full year to find a home in the church-plant town, but looking back we see the benefits in it: we got to know many members of our sending church, building relationships and strengthening our local support system.
Though official funding never did come through, we never lacked. Shelter and food were provided and our few bills were covered for the most part (truthfully, we have accumulated some debt in this process). We are able to get back to our second ‘home’ more often than we thought possible. It has been thirty years since my Love had an income this low, but we have never felt so free, knowing we are right where we ought to be. I admit, there are times I wish we owned a house, one that could be modified to suit our needs a little better. Times I fret about the future. Times when money is very tight. But again, there is learning to be done through this and I am reminded that this is the right place for us at just the right time.
There are, of course, many details that would make this lengthy story even longer. But I hope you can get a feel for our circumstances and how the Lord used them in navigating our course to the east coast.
So what were the stepping stones?
: : Had my Love not lost his job and made a trip a trip to North Carolina, he would not have met the director of the camp who invited him to speak at family camp where we met our friend, the pastor of our sending church, who asked us to come to plant a church in Nova Scotia. (You can read about this here.)
: : If we had not taken that first step of faith into full-time ministry, several important connections, life lessons, as well as spiritual and personal revelations would not have been made.
: : If we had not first gone to PEI, it would have been difficult to physically (and emotionally) move even further away from our family…kinda like baby steps.
: : If everything had gone according to our plans, and worked out in Prince Edward Island, we would still be there. I doubt very much that we would have agreed to leave the island my Love was so enamoured with for church planting in Nova Scotia.
: : If we had not had our Jonah Experience, it is possible that we would not have the same spiritual commitment to being where God wanted us. I think, too, emotionally it would have been harder to make a direct move to Nova Scotia. The tumultuous time spent at my mother-in-law’s reminded us that being close to family was not the only thing that brought satisfaction in life.
: : If we did not have that time at my mother-in-law’s little church, we would not have had the encouragement to go and the subsequent support upon going.
: : Looking back, I think the idea of funding was the Lord’s way of alleviating the fear we had about insufficient income. Our previous experience with lack of support made us a little gun-shy. In the process, we discovered we were able to trust at a deeper level. He also proved that ‘funding’ comes in different forms. We partner with many individuals and churches to make this work.
Isn’t it amazing to look backward and see the hand of God at work in your life?
You can read more snippets from our story here, here, here and here.