Dave and Jo’s great adventure with Jesus…
My first mission trip was to Rio Blanco, Mexico in December of 2003. My self and another guy from my church got on a plane with only a phone number and directions of what bus to get on at the Mexico City airport. We ended up at the wrong bus station and had to wait several hours for our host to realize we were lost.
We spend the week with a small group of believers who spent all day going from village to village in the mountains spreading the good news of Jesus. We saw many people come to Christ and when the week was over, I knew I had experienced something that would change me forever.
Over the next 8 years I was part of 10 short term mission trips including Russia (3x), Ukraine, Mexico (3x), Peru, and Ecuador.
Over this entire period, Jo and I were always aware that we wanted to serve full-time but we were planning to do that after I retired. In 2011, God started accelerating our retirement plan. Here is what happened:
In March 2011 I was on a mission trip to Ecuador where I met a man who had a tremendous testimony of how God dramatically re-directed his live from the professional world to full-time ministry. On that trip I realized that I wanted to see God work that way in my life too. One evening while this man was sharing story after story of what God had done in his live I made him stop and I cried out to God “I want everything you want me to have, and I am willing to give up whatever it takes to get it.”
About 3 months later, I was on my way to work one morning and I had the “vision” of God holding his arms out and telling me to “jump” like a father to a child in a tree. He kept saying “Jump, and I’ll catch you.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I said “OK, when I think you are saying jump, I’ll jump.”
In September I was meeting with some OM folks to see how I could prepare myself for service “after I retired” and they offered me a position and asked me to start in January. That would have been 5 years before I was ready to retire. Jo and I talked about it and we agreed that God was saying “jump now.” So we did. The next day I started the process of retirement and December 31, 2011 was my last day in the FAA (28 years and 7 months as an Air Traffic Controller) and January 2, 2012 was my first day with OM.
The transition from fast paced, high satisfaction, high salary to lower salary, lower stress, lower satisfaction was abrupt and unsettling. But, knowing that everything we had decided to do had been guided by the Holy Spirit gave us the peace to continue. But it wasn’t easy.
In fact, most days I was miserable. I didn’t have anything to do and I didn’t really know who I was anymore. I really struggled with what I was doing and why I was doing it.
After about a year, God finally had my attention and He was able to start working in me so that He could start working through me. Oh what a difference the Word of God made in my life after that. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the Bible! I had taught the Bible, I had led people to the Lord, I had done everything every pastor had ever asked me to do. I got an A+ in “churchianity”.
Then one day the Word started sinking into my heart and mind like never before. The scriptures began to come alive to me and my life was again, changed forever. (thank you Chip)
Then, in September 2014 Jo and I (just minding our own business) had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference in Turkey with other missionaries from around the globe. The attendees were from many different agencies but about half were from OM.
About half way through the conference, one of the modules required each participant to stand up and say one of their dreams. When it was my turn I said “I want to serve overseas.” When it was Jo’s turn, she said the same thing. At that moment, the facilitator stopped the discussion and said “all of you are leaders, and all of you have needs on your teams, is there anyone here who would want Dave and Jo on your team.” I started to hang my head in embarrassment, but actually several hands went up.
One of those who raised his hand was the field leader of OM Norway. Another leader who raised his hand was from Ireland. Jo and I always hoped we would be able to serve in Ireland and that seemed like a natural fit. And, that night, the Ireland team gave us a very “hard sell” on joining their team. But, God had other plans. When Jo and I finally talked about if we would go to Ireland or not, she said “I don’t think so, I was thinking Norway.” The miracle here is that Jo HATES (I said HATES) the cold. So, the fact that the word Norway came out of her mouth was another burning bush to me. From that moment on, Ireland was forgotten and I knew that somehow and some way, we were going to Norway.
That day we mentioned this to the Norway leader and he was interested in the idea. The day after that he talked to us again and it sounded like he was really interested. He and his wife talked to Jo and I for a couple of hours about the opportunity and we all agreed that our skills and desires matched their needs. We agreed that we would need to visit Norway and test the waters but the idea was very exciting to both Jo and I.
We visited Norway in March/April of 2014 for 10 days. During that time, we had meetings, interviews, and did life together with Willy and KariAnne (the Norwegian team). They liked us and we liked them. We all thought that together, we would make a good team and they asked us to join them as they try to lead the Norwegian church into foreign missions.
We accepted their offer and we are planning to depart the US on June 1, 2015.
That is how we got to where we are…