At the beginning of 2001, we had officially "joined" the Porto Alegre Mission Team. We had gone through some interviews, psychological testing, and seminars. We had met our teammates and were getting to know them better. What our family was lacking at this point was a supporting congregation or sponsoring church.
The role of the sponsoring church would be spiritual oversight and leadership, and financial support. For the time being, our small home church in Grenada, Mississippi was fulfilling this role. They were collecting any funds that were donated to us, and were committing to contribute financially to our family as well. However, this was a church of around 100 members. They would not have the financial resources to support a family our size in a large city in Brazil. So, we were looking for another larger sponsoring church.
At this point we had a few people who were committing to donate monthly amounts to us - anywhere from $5.00-$800.00 - a pretty good start, but not what we need in terms of monthly support. We also had this one large donation that I mentioned in the last part of this story. This donation would be needed for our one-time expenses involved in moving to a new country - airfare, car, home furnishings, shipping, visas, fees, etc. We were so grateful to have these financial blessings, but in our minds we still needed a sponsoring church that would supply us with our monthly salary.
We were supposed to be moving to Abilene, Texas in June of that year to begin our 7 month internship and training with Continent of Great Cities. We felt that Kevin could not quit his physical therapy job until we had our salary situation worked out. If, by the time the internship started, we didn't have our salary requirements, then he would not quit his job and we would not go to the internship. In our minds, that was the only responsible thing to do. After all, we had 4 children. We couldn't just quit a good job without having something solid and dependable in our future.
In February of that year, we were asked to attend a Continent of Great Cities banquet in Abilene. We decided to go, but needed a place to stay while we were there. Bryan Gibbs, who worked for CGC, set us up to stay with his sister and her family, Daryl and Rebekah Zellar. They were wonderful hosts and we hit it off immediately. The banquet was one night, and then the next night Rebekah invited me to go hear a speaker who was in Abilene speaking at a local church. It was at a somewhat charismatic church which was different than what I was used to, but I was eager to go because Rebekah seemed like a "seeker" person like myself and she thought I would really be encouraged by going.
I don't remember this guy's name or everything that he said that night. But God sent me there to hear one message, and it made an impression. The speaker was talking about faith, and what faith is. Faith is acting when you can't see what is in front of you. He said that if you can see all the steps in front of you, then you don't need faith. Acting in real faith means acting when you can't see how it is all going to work out. It occurred to me that if we waited for all of our financial needs to be taken care of before Kevin quit his job, we would not be acting in faith. We would simply be changing jobs. God was asking us to step out in faith, not knowing how he was going to work it out, but just trusting in Him to do it. That would be acting in faith.
On the plane ride home, I discussed with Kevin what I had heard from this speaker and what I thought God was asking us to do. He immediately agreed, and so we decided that he would quit his job at the end of April, and we would move to Abilene in June even if our monthly financial needs weren't taken care of.
Remember that lesson I learned about having peace? Upon making this decision, which would seem scary in worldly terms, we had immediate peace. An unexplainable peace. Since then, we have been on this faith roller-coaster many times, and it always seems more peaceful when we know that we are truly leaving it up to God. He is dependable and trustworthy. He was teaching us this as we had a huge garage sale, packed up our family, and set off for Abilene in June.