We recently read a book entitled “The Grave Robber” written by Mark Batterson. This book is a look through the 7 miracles as recorded in the gospel of John. There were two quotes from this book that have impacted our lives in a dramatic way. The reason these quotes have had such an impact on us isn’t because of their fancy wording or clever word plays, but because they have been played out in our lives in an unbelievably incredible way. The quotes are…
“Sometimes God shows UP. Other times God shows OFF.”
“God is awfully good at getting you where God wants you to go.”
Many people have asked us, “How in the world did you decide on going to Ireland?” This is the brief story of how we “landed” on serving in Ireland. In October, we went to ICOM (International Conference of Missions) with an excitement and anticipation to see God guide us in where He wanted us to serve. There is really no better definition of our time at ICOM than those quotes from “The Grave Robber”.
Up to this point, we had been wrestling with our calling to missions. We both grow up in mission-minded churches. We served at a church in Jacksonville who absolutely nailed mission support. We even committed to supporting missions as a newly married couple. So missions has always been a core value in our lives. However, the idea of serving as missionaries kind of always stayed on the “maybe one day” burner. Still, as the quote indicates, “God is awfully good at getting you where God wants you to go.” We noticed that this calling towards missions continued to be on our hearts. The more we talked about the future, the more that we felt that missions was the direction that God was leading. Unlike most new missionaries, we had not yet pinpointed a specific place in which we felt He was leading.
Oftentimes when you talk to missionaries, they share with you how God revealed to them a specific place in which to serve. Many of them could share amazing stories of the ways that God had called them to a certain mission field. However, this wasn’t the case for us. At least not yet. Honestly, we were slightly envious of those who knew exactly where they were called to serve and had a cool story to back it up. For us, the calling was to missions, and the leading was to, well… to be determined. We already had a heart for Europe because Tiffanie spent a summer in Spain with a mission internship and saw the great need there. But besides that, we had nothing.
We set out to ICOM to make as many contacts as possible, meet as many organizations as we could, and ultimately to find the place that we were going to commit to serving for a good portion of our lives. Those were some hefty expectations to be sure, but “sometimes God shows up and sometimes God shows off.”
For us, it was clearly the latter. We spent the next 48 hours learning from seasoned missionary veterans, meeting different organizations and missionaries, and praying for a miracle. We spent time at a lot of incredible booths and got so excited about a ton of possibilities. At one point, Luke went to get coffee and Tiffanie walked around meeting and talking with more organizations. She noticed a booth that was green and glittery. (Which is really what caught her eye.) The guy there went on to describe how there was a couple in Ireland, who are close to our age, who had been praying for teammates for a few years. In that moment, a light-bulb and a crazy idea went off in Tiffanie’s mind, “What if we are the ones that they have been praying for?” However, Satan was attempting to get her to doubt. Even making her feel selfish and prideful for thinking of such things. Thankfully, that didn’t stop our excitement about the possibility of serving in Ireland.
Upon arriving home, we had some great leads and what we thought was two really good possibilities. One possibility was with a great organization who wanted to send us to Berlin, Germany. The other lead was of course, Ireland. Basically the first moment we could sit down at the computer, we were applying to the mission organization to go to Germany and sending an email to the guy about Ireland.
Over the next couple of weeks we continued the process of interviewing, discussing, and applying for the mission organization and getting excited about Berlin. Things were progressing fairly well with them. However, the Ireland lead looked to be nothing but another shut door…or so we thought. Randomly, about a month since ICOM, we received an email from the guy we talked to about Ireland. In that email we were given the email address of the missionaries already on the field, Stephen and Alisa Walton, and he suggested that we get in contact with them. So that is exactly what we did.
Through the course of our email conversation, we started getting more excited about Ireland as the Waltons described about how missions was going there. We agreed to set up a time to Skype with them in order to get to know them a little better and to hear more information about Ireland. That conversation completely changed and altered the trajectory and direction of our lives.
Over the course of the next 2 ½ hours, we laughed, talked, learned, and listened to Stephen and Alisa talk about the state of Christianity in Ireland. We were heartbroken to hear that less than 1% of Irish people claim to be Christians. We are still often moved to tears when we think about the answer that they give us for what teenagers like to do in Ireland. The answer: “After school and on the weekends, they really like to go to the woods and drink.” Our first thought was, that isn’t ok with us! There is so much more to life than that!
As we wrapped up the conversation, they introduced us to the organization that they were working with, Kontaktmission (KM). The Waltons also provided us with the contact information for Rob Harris who is one of the leaders of KM and highly suggested that we get in touch with him, and of course, we did. (Side note: Rob and his wife, Carla, are some of the most incredible people in the world. Their passion for people, Jesus, and missionaries is unmatched. You can’t leave a conversation with them without feeling encouraged and loved. If you get a chance to sit and talk them, DO IT! End side note.) When we messaged Rob about talking to the Waltons and about our excitement and interest in Ireland, he was just as excited as we were.
Over the course of the next week we Skyped with Rob a couple of times and prayed a lot. After these talks with Rob and another talk with the Waltons, we really felt like God was nudging us towards Ireland. However, there was still the option of the first mission organization sending us to Berlin. We weren’t really sure what to do at this point. We didn’t know if there was really a right or wrong choice, but if there was, we wanted to make the right one.
As we were pondering, weighing, and praying through our opinions, we were really stumped. We felt like we were leaning towards Ireland, but honestly didn’t know. We spent the rest of the night in prayer and seeking God’s wisdom and direction. We prayed very clearly, “God show us where you want us to go and we are there.” The next day, God did just that. He showed us exactly where He wanted us. That day both of us received a message from the organization that was talking about sending us to Berlin, and the message said something like, “Hey guys! Come to find out, Berlin isn’t going to be an option anymore, but we can send you to Mexico.” We both looked at the message again to make sure it was actually supposed to be to us, because we had never thought, felt any calling, or said anything about Mexico.
It might have just been a coincidence that less than 24 hours after we asked God to show us His plans for us that we got this email. However, as Gibbs’ (from NCIS) rule #39 states, “There is no such thing as a coincidence.” Or to say it better, “God is awfully good at getting you where God wants you to go.” And that is exactly what He did for us. Through a series of fortunate events, we met the Waltons, Rob, Kontaktmission, and God showed off yet again, placing us exactly where He wanted us to go. Four months later, after a week in Ireland, we saw exactly why God used these fortunate events to lead us to Ireland for such a time as this!
Oddly enough, we found out later that Kontaktmission was actually at ICOM. They weren’t just there, but they a huge booth there that somehow we never saw. No, instead we saw the tiny glittery booth with a guy who was passionate about Ireland. Nevertheless, God used our detours to get us exactly where He wanted us to be. We couldn’t be more excited about serving in Ireland and beyond blessed to have such a wonderful organization and team to partner with.
Whether you’re trying to decide on which job to take, which school to attend, or what mission field to serve on, we hope that our story will help you to trust God even more. Because the truth is, as Mark Batterson states in another book,
“God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go.”
And honestly, He is awfully good at getting us there!