So if you haven’t tried this yet, stop and Google “If 2020 was a” …I think for me, these memes have been one of the best parts of all of this! I love to laugh. I mean, I would be sitting there with the family and while everyone else is having a conversation, I’m there going through all the memes and randomly burst into laughter! Rachael then jumps out of the chair, because she wasn’t expecting it, and turns and slaps me on the shoulder saying, “What in the world! You scared me!” I know I don’t need to tell anyone that finding laughter throughout these past 5 months hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been super difficult to not spend a ton of focus each day on the news and the circumstances we’ve been facing. But if there is one thing that God has been showing our family through this time, it’s that He is always working. There is laughter to relish, there is joy in the uncertainty, there are blessings in disguise…even if I don’t see it, He’s working it all together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
In our last blog post we shared how God was moving and shaping 2020 to be an amazing year where we would begin the first construction phase of this ministry. By the middle of February we had 9 mission teams booked (including 3 safe house builds) for the year, with the first one set to arrive at the end of that month. We had started a fundraising campaign to put in a driveway, a cistern, and dig a well at the property. Things were beginning to roll, and fast! Well, that first team arrived and immediately got to work. In one week they had the cistern finished and secured the land by completing the last 200 feet of wall around its perimeter. But they decided that wasn’t enough! So they took on building a septic tank for the safe houses, and it was done by the time they went home as well!
At this point you may wonder what happened to the driveway and the well. Great question! I’m glad you asked! I just need to preface this by saying, GOD IS SO GOOD! No, we didn’t meet our fundraising goal. In fact, taking on the septic tank made things super tight. But with the funds that we did have, God opened a door that none of us were expecting! On the day that the February team arrived I got a call from my neighbor, Alfredo. His daughter is in Kinslaey’s class at school and they often get together and play. I asked how his wife, Julie, was doing because she was expecting and days away from delivering! He said she was tired, but excited that the baby was almost here. Then Alfredo told me that the well to their house had collapsed and there was no running water for them. He had talked with the neighbor across the street and they were allowing him to bring over jugs once a day and fill them to take back home. I shared this news with Rachael, the kids and the team. Then we prayed. You need to understand that while we know that God has called us to the DR to fight the sex trade and minister to ladies that are being bought, sold and abused, He no doubt calls us to minister in our immediate context by loving our neighbor. A couple of days went by and Rachael looked at me in a moment of clarity and said, “Nate, we’ve got to do it. They have an immediate need. They’re going to be bringing a newborn home with no water. The well on the property can wait.” I’ve never had to worry about not having clean water, much less worry about not having it to bathe or feed my infant. God was saying “Dig the well! Give them the water! Tell them it’s from me and that I am the living water springing up from a well that will never run dry!” Oh my, what an opportunity! Everyone in the house was in agreement! Alfredo’s well ended up being about half the cost of the one we’re planning to dig on the property because it had collapsed 40 feet down. That means that the drill wasn’t actually digging those first 40 feet. So there were some funds to still be able to have a few dump trucks of rock delivered for the driveway! Now mom and baby are home and doing well…and we get to brag about how cool our God is!
It’s been much the same way being back in the states. I can’t count how many times I’ve thought to myself that the way things are going doesn’t make sense. I’m just as human as everybody else, so I question God. How are we going to take care of what you’ve already put in front of us Lord? We feel responsible and committed to see it through. Why does this feel like a set back? The kids barely made it through the end of the school year. How is this fall going to be any better? Oh yeah, and now they can’t travel because their passports need renewed! AHHH! I’ve come to realize that God can be loud in getting my attention, like saying “Dig the well!” But He can also speak softly. “Be still. Spend time with me.” As many of you know, I continue to take classes online through CCBBC. At the end of April the opportunity for a week-long summer intensive came about. Living in the DR, online has been a great option. But being stateside for Covid-19 allowed me to be in person for this particular course, The Sermon on the Mount (Hey, I see what you did there Lord!). In my study, God revealed that there is concern, and there is worry. See there’s a sense where the absence of concern, biblically speaking, is irresponsible. But similarly, the presence of worry signals unbelief. I saw it as I read the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34. I can be concerned with my sin, and maybe more so with how I’m being faithful and useful in His service. But I’m not to carry the worry. He expects me to cast all of my anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He knows exactly what I need. And most of what I find myself worrying about are things that I want, but are out of my control. Something that stood out to me most in that class was the fact that in the original language Jesus uses so many “continuing action” verbs. For example, “Seek” in Matthew 6:33 would imply “Keep on seeking.” My professor said it best when he said, “We don’t need our wants, but we do need to want our needs.” It boils down to God being infinitely more gracious and loving than we are, and He responds as such to our continual pursuit of Him! I needed that. God knew I needed that! And He made it possible by bringing us back from the DR in the midst of Covid-19.
Well I better wrap this novel up. We want you to know that there have been many more blessings in disguise. God has given us unprecedented time with our families by being here. We’ve also been able to incorporate Love Restored in the state of Ohio, and we’re working towards applying for federal tax-exempt status as charitable organization. We’ve been able to have great meetings, although sometimes by Zoom, with partner churches and supporters. And while the lack of clarity surrounding our return and the kids starting school is still there, we cling to lyrics the song writer wrote, “Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. When you move, I’ll move. I will follow you.”
Serving together as one!