Luke’s journey and call to missions…
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’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…
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.
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.
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.