These friends!! We have shared so much of our lives with these people! We knew them before they were Gina & Bryan, and while Aaron and I were "getting to know each other" they were there! We spent countless hours at their house during the dating season of our lives, and they have shaped us in so many ways. I can remember talks about adoption and orphan care and overseas mission work. We talked much about the heart of God and how we wanted to spend our lives. I'm so so grateful for these people. I love their story, and what I'll share is such a small part, but you'll see their heart for God and his great provision for their family in this part of their story. Check it out and be encouraged!
God's Mission Overseas
Bryan and Gina began praying about moving overseas to join a team at work to reach a people group who had never heard the gospel of Jesus. In his timing, God aligned their hearts and they began preparing to move themselves and their children to Asia. Caleb was almost four, Ella was two, and Josiah was one year old when they left the states. I remember them selling almost every earthly possession to their name. They had counted the cost, and considered Jesus and his mission to be worth the sacrifices, and in the fall of 2007 they moved. Their faith moved them to action.
During their almost five years in Asia, God shaped their lives in many ways. Gina says that, "moving and living overseas, striving to be on mission for God in another culture and language, stripped us of all that was familiar and comfortable." They were far from family and friends, simple daily task now became difficult and time-consuming, they couldn't communicate with others because they didn't know the language. In the midst of this stripping away of comfort, God taught them that he was the only constant, truly unchanging one, and he was at work in people all over the globe. They had left everything and everyone they knew, but not him!
"Jesus was there in those moments of loneliness and frustration and fear, teaching me to trust him and depend on him alone," Gina says.
The ways that God has used their time in Asia to impact their children are still to be seen. They spent over four years of their early childhood living in another country, seeing a different people giving their worship to golden and wooden statues, a people who don't know the one true God, and need Jesus, just as they do. Bryan and Gina are trusting that God will use all of their children's experiences there to widen their view of the world, of God and his Word, and give them understanding as they grow.
After living in Asia for only five months, Bryan and Gina got word that Gina's dad had cancer. It progressed very quickly and he passed away four months later. They returned to the states for a month to be with and help Gina's mother, then returned to southeast Asia with confidence that God was still calling them to live and work amongst the people there.
Return to the States
Having served in Asia for four years, God began putting on both Bryan and Gina's hearts to return to Texas to live closer to Gina's mom to be available to help her more directly with any needs she may have. God used 1 Timothy to stir Bryan's heart about what it meant to truly care for a widow. Bryan felt strongly that moving back to live near Gina's mom is what God wanted for their family at that point in their journey.
While there was joy for them moving back, being closer to family and old friends, adjusting to life here was incredibly difficult for their family. They had invested everything they had into life there and had grown to love the people and God's work there so deeply. It was not an easy thing at all to shift gears. Gina says, " However, just as with our original move overseas, there has been confidence in what God showed us through His Word in leading us back, and in that there is such peace. Life still has its struggles here just like there, but God has been so faithful and good to provide for our every need since returning."
God's Mission Stateside
As they made this transition home, they began praying that God would show them where he wanted them to live and serve among his church. My husband, Aaron, and I had recently moved our family to plant a church in Waxahachie, Texas. We had stayed connected to our dear friends through these years, and after hearing about the need for more laborers and praying about how God wanted to use them, they believed that God wanted them now to be on mission with him through this local community of believers. To say that we were thrilled is a huge understatement.
I asked Gina to share her greatest struggle in life right now, because sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone in our struggles! As most of us moms do, she struggles with not letting her sin as a mom and wife keep her from feeling discouraged and condemned. She says, " I struggle to rest in the grace and mercy of God and believe what He says about me and not the lies our enemy throws at us."
However she is celebrating God's faithful work in her life as he gently leads her to the sources of discouragement and sometimes sadness in her heart right now. He is revealing to her what sometimes steals her joy and moving her past them to obedience. She and Bryan share open and honest communication in their marriage, which doesn't always look pretty, but she is so thankful for the safety and security she has in him.
There is a pattern to their life. Do you see it? They are living life with God's mission at the forefront. They are following his leading, and no matter where their lives are planted, their eyes are fixed on Jesus, joining in the greatest work available to man. This is a joyful way to spend your life! And because I know them well, they would never want your eyes on them. They don't feel like they have done anything extraordinary. They have just obeyed. May God grant us the courage to follow suit.