Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!

Journey and Call

Luke’s journey and call to missions…

Luke Profile

I tend to be a dreamer. I often live in my head and construct whole new ideas about the future. But these are usually exercises of the mind and they don’t always result in action. When I started thinking that I might be interested in overseas missions, I realized that dreaming about it would not get me there. I needed to take steps towards that potential outcome. Steps that wouldn’t be wasted whether I ever went overseas or not.

My first short term missions experience was in 2002 when I went with my grandparents and a team to Cambodia to be a part of a construction project. Sometime after that, I attended a college retreat where I was challenged by a missionary to answer the call for more workers. In 2006, my eyes were really opened when I took my first Perspectives class. These three events shaped my early call. Shortly after taking Perspectives I was asked to be on the mission board of the church I attended, Big Valley Grace. My five years on that board meeting with missionaries, making financial decisions, hosting and leading Perspectives classes, and learning to deal with problems as a team, was invaluable in my spiritual growth and understanding of the cross cultural mission work.

During all this, Amber and I would talk often about what ministry we might do in the future. In the beginning of 2008, I remember praying with Amber that God would use us for his glory. That year our daughter Olivianna died at birth as a result of a birth defect, our house was shot up in a drive by shooting while we slept, we were robbed in a hotel room in Hawaii while we slept, and Amber had a miscarriage. It was our hardest year ever, but God used us and our story to touch the lives of many people. We learned a lot about being used in our weakness and how God answer’s prayer.

When we moved to our current church, I quickly got involved with the missions team, and was asked to oversee our foreign missions involvement. I took the Perspectives class for the fifth time with Amber this year, and it was towards the end of that course that we really started feeling like the time had come to go. The pieces were coming together. We were convinced of the need for workers to go. We were passionate about being involved. We had established a commitment to the church. We had stopped our wedding photography business. Our kids were at a good age. We felt at peace about stepping out and applying to go.

We began our missions organization pursuit by contacting a senior leader for ReachGlobal that is from Modesto, our hometown, and is supported by both our current and former churches. I had traveled in Indonesia with him and got to know him well. In our first meeting, he laid out a path for us to follow that included establishing our values and vision for missions before considering an organization or location. This was very helpful. When we finally discussed organizations, he encouraged us to consider ReachGlobal, the international mission of the EFCA, in addition to a couple other organizations we mentioned. ReachGlobal’s strong leadership, health focus, and desire to create an environment to flourish really connected with us.

God has worked in many ways to guide me, a dreamer, along a path to this point. A verse that has been important to me in this journey is Luke 17:33, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Over the years, I have really taken an interest in learning and reading about business and financial strategies. And although these are not bad things, I noticed that these topics and ideas that I was often attracted to were forms of salvation. They were ways to preserve life.

So I was really challenged, especially this last year to allow those to be just interest, and instead steer my life towards dependency on God and his people through cross cultural service. Amber and I have been very focused on being people that are willing to go. We want to say yes to this journey as long as God continues to guide. If he changes our course, or ends up telling us, “no don’t go”, that is fine. Until then we move forward.

amber

Amber’s journey and call to missions…

I first trusted in Jesus Christ at the age of 4 and grew up surrounded with people who loved the Lord and poured into my life as I grew in my relationship with Jesus. I spent spring breaks in junior high and high school serving on short term trips with my youth group, which began in my heart a desire to meet the needs of the poor and oppressed, and share the gospel with those who do not have a relationship with Jesus. After my first year of college, I began sensing the Lord drawing me to Him and calling me to understand His purpose for my life. I spent the next 6 months doing a discipleship training school with YWAM which gave me a greater understanding of God’s mandate to the nations and awakened in my heart the desire to GO. This is where I first felt the call to missions, although it would be a long time and a lot of prayer before I understood that more clearly.

When Luke and I began dating, we knew that together we wanted to be used by the Lord and that we didn’t want to settle for the american dream lifestyle. We would pray often that the Lord would use us mightily for His kingdom advancement, whether in America or overseas, and that we would be on mission for God’s glory wherever He called us. Just days after a passionate prayer for God to work through us, we found out that my daughter whom I was pregnant with wouldn’t live after birth due to a birth defect. During this same time, we experienced much spiritual warfare against us, resulting in the most difficult year of our lives. We trusted in God’s plan and knew that the Lord was doing something far greater than we could imagine. We realized in a new and powerful way that the Lord uses us in our weakness to advance His kingdom. I blogged through this whole journey and watched the Lord touch hundreds of lives as the spirit enabled me to trust and give glory to God in the darkest of my days. Through this suffering, the Lord continued to awaken our hearts to the desire for others to know and understand the love of Christ, and to experience the peace that only He can give.

It was after that year that Luke and I began talking about the “what ifs” of serving the Lord overseas. As we continued to be involved in local missions at our church, we began to ask the Lord to show us if that was His plan for our family. As we waited and listened, our passion to declare the riches of Christ to the nations continued to grow and be confirmed as we saturated our mind with the things of God. Through studying God’s word, praying, spending time listening to missionaries, being encouraged and spurred on by courses such as Perspectives, reading books about missions and on heroes of the faith, asking the Lord to break our hearts for the things that break his, and serving those in need around us; the Lord has brought us to a place of resolve and deep desire to step into action out of obedience to His call on our lives.

We are expectant and excited to share the good news of salvation with those who have never heard. We have counted the cost, have realized the need, and now ask the Lord of the harvest to lead us and guide us as harvest workers. We want to lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel…not in our own power, but in His. 1 Peter 4:11 says ” Let him who serves serve in the strength that God supplies that in everything God may get the glory.

We say “YES, God” and we step out in faith knowing that He who has called us is faithful and will do it. We don’t know what this looks like for us, but trust that the Lord will reveal our sweet spot as we walk by faith.

Our precious little ones…


beach-47 Adalin Rose: Lover of Jesus, her friends,  acrobatics, art, nature, shopping and reading. Quiet at first, but don’t be fooled! You will most likely see her upside down or flipping much of the day. She is most looking forward to new friendships, holding babies in an orphanage, writing on her own blog, and the many adventures that await her in Tanzania.

beach-51 Jude Auckerman: Strong willed and always on a mission. Lover of learning and exploring. Enjoys reading about history (bible and more recent), riding his bike, eating, and being out in nature. He is most looking forward to exploring Tanzania, wild animals, climbing trees and killing snakes.

beach-54 Ezra William: Sweet as can be! Loves to talk, wrestle, and be outdoors. He also loves to do art, play legos and snuggle. Ezra loves Jesus and enjoys learning about Him. He is most excited for learning a new language, eating new food, making new friends and going to a new school.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. March 16, 2015    

    I have never met or known anyone like the two of you. I am blessed to call you my friend and I look forward to following your journey and learning and growing from your experiences, all along the way. I am in constant awe of the both of you and what you are doing in this world together. Lots of love, Alyssa

  2. kate howard kate howard
    May 18, 2015    

    Loved reading every word of your honest, and heart felt blog! Truly an amazing testament to faith, hope, and love! So very thankful to have had the privilege of meeting such a beautiful beautiful heart… Amber Grover you are such a beautiful person inside and out. It brings me such joy seeing you follow God in such a beautiful way. All my Love, Kate

  3. William Moore William Moore
    May 21, 2015    

    From the day Amber was born I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with. As a dad I am very proud of our three children (each for their own individual spirits and the way they have grown into mature adults). I could see in Amber a desire to reach out to others from a very early age. I watched her spiritual growth mature and blossom and I’m not really surprised of her choices in life (including the Godly man she married – Luke). Two pees in a pod… Both wanting to learn and grow in a direction that would be reaching out to those who are not saved. Both as young adults went on short term mission trips and both went to neighboring countries (Amber to Thailand and Luke to Cambodia). When Amber was in Thailand the Lord showed me that I needed to also trust Him in what He was looking for in her life (and eventually in her life with Luke). I was a typical worry wart dad not sure if where she was at was safe (I was on Email a lot with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and as much as I could be with Amber)… During that time while she was away I experience the loss of my mother. I could hardly wait for Amber to come home.

    When Amber told us that she wanted to marry Luke, we (Jeanne and I) knew he was a perfect match for her as he had many of the same traits that she had (the most important one being their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and wanting to serve Him). Over the years they have been married we’ve seen both of them grow in their desire to follow God’s voice which has lead them to missions. The year Amber mentioned where they lost their daughter Olivianna Grace (and then the miscarriage), the being shot at while sleeping in their home and being robbed while at a hotel (while the were asleep) was a year of much growth for all the family and we all learned to trust the Lord to take care of us on a much deeper level.

    When the discussion of long term overseas missions came up it was one of those dad moments that I knew would come up some day; however, as much as I was expecting it, it forced me to look deep into my heart and pray for peace. God didn’t take long to tell me this was “His Will” and that He will take care of them (and my fears). Over the last many months of watching Luke and Amber (and Adi, Jude and Ezra) prepare for acceptance to the mission field, up until today my fears have been calmed and I am as excited as I could be for them to actually be visiting Tanzania and meeting the people they will be working with and actually seeing and getting a taste of what their mission work will look like. As a Christian parent you raise your children to love the Lord and to follow His Word. You also raise them to follow their heart. Luke and Amber both are doing exactly that. (Mark 16:15 “and he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (every person).”)

  4. Denny Amin Denny Amin
    May 29, 2015    

    I am very glad and praising the Lord when I heard you two decided to take part in this rescue operation. May the Lord grants you comfort and uses you and your family to bring the good news to the thousands of people who have never heard it before!
    Welcome…!

  5. Braeden Garcia Braeden Garcia
    June 15, 2015    

    Wow. Who knew that when I was choosing a wedding photographer in 2012, I would choose someone who inspired me to make my relationship with Jesus that much stronger. I am so inspired from your story, and am so excited to see where God takes your beautiful family in this journey! Thank you for inspiring myself and so many others to GO!

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