Thursday, November 1, 2012

Resting in Faith

Jana and her sister Debra
Even though at first I had felt such peace when Dave brought up the idea of us moving to the U.S. for a season, this was no easy decision. East Africa had been our home as a married couple for 19 years and my home for the first 8 years of my life with  additional 2 - one year  seasons.

We ( Dave and I ) had really grown up here. We were so young and idealistic when we first moved to Uganda in 1993. The African people and culture had shaped us in many ways. The value of relationship over time, sense of community over individualism, generosity and hospitality; but also the persecution that comes from being on the cutting edge of life, has also really shaped us.

I love watching God's transforming power in peoples lives! Seeing God at work through my weakness and Him taking the "little things" that I have done and make them life changers in others. I love God plus me and I have really grown to love a special group of people that God has called Dave and I to serve!

One of things I realized as we were processing this decision was the people group we feel called to serve is not confined to East Africa-- in fact many do not live here but are scattered--- so in some ways as God was calling us to be scattered-- we were joining others--walking a similar path.

But I am getting ahead of myself. As Dave and I began to process this decision we needed our community to help us. I think that most of us who are from a more western society tend to make decisions primarily on our own. We my ask advice from others but ultimately we believe the call is up to us. This is a different decision making pattern then we had learned in East Africa. Decisions are made in community. You call your community together and talk and talk and talk ( as Christians you also pray together) listen a lot and then over time the way is made clear. We began to do this process. I think some of our expat community who were used to individual decision making thought we may be crazy, but after several weeks we answered God's call to transition to the U.S for a season.
Handover of Gabe, our foster baby, to the Jacobs

I think in many ways this was a harder call to answer then when He had first called us to Africa 2 decades earlier. But what begin to help us was hearing our community speak blessings over us and seeing our relationship network that God had given us spill over into the U.S. We have been called primarily to serve a segment of society on the move-- thought leaders-- influencing those of influence- calling leaders to the transformation power of Jesus in their lives and seeing it spread through those that they are leading and influencing.

This can be a mom who everyone in her community comes to for advice, government leader, university student, or youth leader. In Rwanda where we were living there is a lot of this group that has been in transition-- because of persecution,turmoil and ultimately genocide --many had scattered. They call themselves the Diaspora -- many had returned to Rwanda but many were also still living a broad. It was interesting that shortly after we answered the call-- we found as many as 9 children and relatives of our CCR community( Christ Church in Rwanda) that lived in the greater Chicago area ( since moving we have met many more ).

Back to my University days of early missionary training, following relationship lines was something that my Mission professors pushed. So even though we were going to move to the other side of the World God was showing us that that was were our relationship lines were going. 

CCR's 4th Anniversary
A beautiful gift that God gave us was being commission and prayed for by the church plant that God had used us to start. As my brothers and sisters laid their hands on us and sent us out from Rwanda to the U.S. to serve , I was filled with peace again--- there were still a lot of unknowns but I could REST IN FAITH.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Call

The Call

When my husband is away, with having 5 children--after everyone is asleep it is usually treasured time to think and reflection life. It is a much needed breathing time.  
Dave had taken our eldest daughter, Sophia to the States to begin her first year of college. I had desperately wanted to be the one to take her but when the time approached it was not to be. We were fostering a small baby boy,Gabe at the time and he needed me to stay. 
    In reality Dave was probably the better choice to take Sophia to Wheaton--he could crunch the numbers, sign the papers and give her the stability she needed to thrive. We had sent her off well. We had an African party--a" Harambe" Invited all our Rwanda community---Rwandans,other Africans from neighboring countries, ex-pates--both Christian workers and seekers--a real hodgepodge of folks.

I love a good party. This was the first one in our new home. I enjoyed setting the stage for an exciting evening. Tents were put up in the yard, table clothes were laid on the tables and all was decorated. Chairs were placed strategically to encourage conversations. Candles were lit and the bomb fire was built and stoked. Yummy food was laid out to share…..friends began to arrive.
     Sending Sophia off was both an expression of faith and a test of faith…..How would God provide for His calling on us and Sophia to send her to a Christian University. Were we crazy to think this would be possible? We had asked our community to pull together and help us send her( Harambe).
We were humbled that night as over $5000.00 U.S dollars was given by our Rwandan community and the largest gift was from our Rwandan friends….humbled! As I write this, Sophia is in her 2nd year at Wheaton and God has provided mightily. She has had to take out only small loans each year and the rest has come from grants and scholarships. We and her will never forget the push that our Rwanda community gave us that night!  
     Anyway back to my treasured time to think and reflect. As Dave was taking Sophia to school, he felt God calling him to a 40 day retreat from the church God had asked him to plant and pastor. Even though I was still in Rwanda and emerged in life--it was these still quiet evenings that I would join Dave in prayer and reflection.

    Since returning from an unexpected medical leave over a year ago,I had still not found my place. At first I thought it would just take time……then God had plopped baby Gabe in my lap and made it clear that this was who I was to pour into. Gabe was a foster baby that we were caring for. The first "Spoken For" baby. A new ministry that our church had started to care for orphaned and abandon babies and give them a temporary home as a permeant home was found. Preventing them from going to an orphanage.   


 Then God made me move from our house that had become our home for the last 6 years in Rwanda---full of unforgettable memories--my  retreat--my place that I had served out of to so many…..Then my youngest son Timothy needed mom to be his teacher….
      All these things took me away from being "plugged in" --finding my place again. Or should I phrase it finding where God wanted me. In the past, although it had sometimes taken time, I had always found my spot--the place that I knew I was right where God wanted me--joining Him where He was working---Being Jana plus God and using all the gifts, experience, and makeup that God had called me to be and service flowed naturally.
       This was not the normal season. I loved loving on Gabe, and was enjoying the extra time Timothy and I were having together with homeschooling….but I was feeling out of place and out of sorts in my community. In someways my relationships with both my Rwandan friends and expat friends seemed to polarize me like never before. Different sets of expectations seemed to pull at me and I started to feel very uneasy….uncomfortable…a hah…I know why I do not like this feeling---in the past this was usually a sign that God was going to move me! "I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE!" I found myself crying out!
  Even though I had been thinking about this for sometime it all seemed to be boiling up since Dave was away. On this night of reflection, I was praying and crying out to God asking Him for direction, answers, and clarity. Then Dave SKYPED me and shared something he wanted me to pray about….One of our ROC board members and dear friend had asked Dave if our family would consider a move back to the U.S for a season and help with the work on the U.S. side.
   As soon as Dave shared this news with me I was flooded with a tangible peace--not the serean peace you can feel looking out over calm waters but the strong secure peace when it seems that everything is falling around you but you have been caught--held tightly. A since of relief as well--like someone turn on the light so I could see a few steps in front of me.
    This was the beginning of my journey with God back to my passport country. I could go on this journey with Him because I had traveled many journeys with him in the past and He had been so faithful!