Hi, thanks for coming to see us! We’re pretty sure that what drove you here was getting something in the mail from us about our next steps with Village Missions. Thank you for thinking enough of us to follow us on our journey.
But before we can get too far into our journey with Village Missions, it seems it would be a good idea to describe to you our journey to Village Missions. In our letter, I posited the following: what do frequent trips to local farms, a seminar on grief, a trip to Niger, and a love for the local church have in common? The answer was that these were occasions used of God to shape us and steer us towards Village Missions.
Now, grab a tasty beverage (doesn’t a 32 oz Nalgene bottle filled with unsweetened, iced green tea sound refreshing?) and sit back for the tale.
After leaving a previous church position, we thought we had a pretty good grasp on a possible timeline of what would be next. Notice the use of the words “we” in the previous sentence; while we certainly had an idea (or ideal) God had different things in mind, and bit of a different timetable. If there was a job out there that seemed remotely connected to either my education or skill set, I applied for it. I made it far in multiple searches, both in ministry settings and in the marketplace. But, each of them ended in disappointment and confusion.
While that is going on, other things are taking place. The beautiful bride and I adopted a way of eating that placed a pretty high priority on getting as much local and fresh stuff as you could. We grew a garden that was more successful than we anticipated. We started going to local farms for our eggs and milk. A friend of ours raises cattle, and together with friends and family, went in on a share of a grass fed cow (which we are still eating and delighting in every juicy morsel). We find ourselves fascinated by farmers markets and farms and farmers and found ourselves having mental wanderlust towards moving to the country.
At the same time, there was still a prompting to continue on in ministry. We love the local church. We believe God has supernaturally and uniquely established the church for the proclamation of the gospel with an eye towards repentance and maturity. We believe in having fellowship with believers, and equipping believers to sacrificially serve those who do not yet know Christ. God used others to kindly affirm my call to ministry, and we expectantly waited on God to present us a door.
Perhaps you are saying to yourself, “ok, that sounds great, but how do Africa and a grief seminar fit in?” I’m glad you asked.
Several years ago, our church “adopted” an unreached people group in Niger, West Africa. As a part of that adoption, our church has committed to regularly pray for this group and the missionaries serving among them, to send short term teams to participate in missionary life in Niger, and to pray that God would raise up people from our church to go as full time missionaries there. I had the privilege almost two years ago to go on a short term trip to Niger, and loved it. One of the settings that fascinated me the most was a little village in the far western part of the country, mere minutes from the border of Burkina Faso. Seemingly out of touch with the rest of the country, and perhaps the world, this little village was full of life – a booming and popular market, quaint huts sprinkled throughout, a school building, and even a church building made from millet stalks (a more permanent building was/is some state of construction). Anywho, right there, God showed me the power of the gospel in small places, and it alerted me to the need of small, out of the way places to have a continual gospel testimony. I had no idea what I was to do with that (am I supposed to learn French and Hausa and move there?) but I also knew that I could not dismiss it.
“But what about the grief seminar? How does learning about how to help someone when someone dies explain how you ended up hooked in with Village Missions?” Well, aren’t you getting a little antsy?
I did not attend the seminar, but my super awesome father in law did. It was held in Tacoma last FebruaryMarchApril (can’t really remember now what month it was in) and while there, he sat at a table with someone representing a Village Missions church. They got to talking, he knew all of the things that were running through my mind and got information from this Village Missions pastor. He then passed that info on to me.
Truthfully, at first, I did nothing with it. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It sounded pretty fascinating, but for some unexplained reason, it stunned me – not in a shocking way, but in a “does not compute” way. Slowly though I started to look into it. I read every jot and tittle on the website. Six times.
The information I was given included the phone number and email for the Northwest District Representative for Village Missions. Vern and Cindy Wilkinson have been with Village Missions for 20+ years and they are within easy (i.e. short) distance from us. Before getting too far into a process, I asked Vern if he would be willing to meet with me and let me pepper him with questions. He very graciously agreed, and we met at coffee shop in Tacoma, the day before we left for a family reunion/vacation on the Oregon coast. For two hours, we covered all kinds of ground. I left that meeting encouraged, intrigued, and inspired.
While on vacation, I passed around the information and resources Vern gave me to my super awesome father in law and my two super awesome brothers in law. The material made it around to each household of our family. Each one gave it the thumbs up. “No, it can’t be that easy can it?” was my prevailing thought.
We came home from vacation and we began the application process with Village Missions. Even at that point, we still were not sure if we were hearing clearly, but we knew our hearts were stirred. Vern and Cindy came to our home for dinner and a four hour interview, and while we were growing in both our interest and desire to join Village Missions we didn’t know exactly whether they wanted us. The day the letter came inviting us to Candidate School ratcheted up our desire. Candidate School built that into a flame. Following Candidate School, we were informed that we were accepted as Village Missionaries, and now we can’t not talk about it. “Why?” you might ask. We were hooked by Village Missions passion to reach neglected and ignored communities. We have bought into their passion to see Christ honoring churches even in places with 200 or less people. We love the beauty and simplicity of their philosophy, which is “Preach the Word and Love the People” and find that in addition to being two of our favorite things to do it fully jives with our convictions and passions.
So, there, in close to 1300 words you have the explanation of how we came to join Village Missions. We are so excited about what God might have in store for us. We’re honored that you would take enough interest in what God is doing with us to visit this blog, and even to suffer by plowing through this slightly verbose post. I’ll try to exercise greater brevity in future posts. Please do come back often and get updates, and by all means, toss in your comments and questions!