In June 2005, our family moved to the Mexican border to work with an organization called International Family Missions (IFM) which existed to provide short-term ministry opportunities to families with children of all ages. We worked in Juarez, Mexico with orphanages, churches, feeding centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, safe houses, and people in the streets. While there are many organizations that work in Juarez doing big projects like building houses, our ministry activities were relationship-based since that works best with families that have brought their small children. In fact, IFM was started by a family from our church who had traveled to Latin America with their small children and saw how warmly they were welcomed into the homes and hearts of the people, because they had their small children with them.
Since IFM grew out of the church we attended, my wife and I were involved from the very beginning. But we were full time college students, and so we were only able to support our friends and help out from time to time. With college, medical school for my wife, jobs for me, and children, seventeen years went by before we finally went on a ministry outreach with IFM ourselves. Of course, we brought our five small children! That was in February, 2005.
Prior to that time I had worked for several software companies. I worked so much that I often did not see my family, and I missed them. Every day I would commute to the office and spent the majority of my days with people who were not my wife or my children. As my children grew each day without me, God spoke to my heart about doing work that would not take me away from them. So in late 2004 I quit my job and tried to find software work I could do from home. This was the first time in our lives that we were free of commitments, and so we were free to join our life-long friends on the February outreach to Juarez, Mexico.
The week-long trip was a life-changing experience for us. Not only was it amazing to spend time in orphanages and to tell people about Jesus in the outdoor market, but to be working with these friends that we had known all of our married lives was like coming home. We felt like God had arranged our lives such that we could join with our friends full time, so we made the commitment to move to the ministry facility on the Mexican border in June.
Part of our decision to do this was influenced by the many books that we had been reading as a family about the lives of great missionaries such as Hudson Taylor in China, George Mueller in England, and many others. A common thread with these people was that they trusted God for all of their provision. They never asked another human being for money or other support. They only asked their Heavenly Father. This was an inspirational idea to us. If God was telling us to leave our jobs and comfortable lives and move out into the desert to work full time with IFM, then He would provide everything we would need.
At the time we made the decision in April to join IFM, we had some money saved in the bank. Since IFM would be providing housing, and since we could often eat with the teams, I calculated that our savings would last at least six months. After that, we would see what God would provide. But God had other plans. By the end of May, due to various circumstances like car repairs and other unforeseen expenses, all of our savings was gone, and we had no income!
The day finally came for us to pack up our belongings into an IFM truck. While it was exciting and fun to be packing with friends, I was sick with anxiety about money. We had none. We had no way to even put fuel into the vehicles for the 650 mile journey! How were we going to do this? We had been praying faithfully as a family for God’s provision. I had been checking the mailbox every day with the greatest faith and expectation, but nothing had come. I began to have doubts. What were we doing? Had we heard from God? Was He leading us to take this huge risk? God did two things to deal with my anxiety.
First, a friend of my wife’s came by the house to bring back some things she had borrowed. As she was leaving she asked me, “What are you doing again? Why are you doing this?” It was ironic. These were the very questions I had been asking myself in my anxiety. So I told her the whole story; starting with the trip we had made in February, I explained what we were going to do and why we were going to do it. Even before I finished telling the story God’s peace flooded my heart. My anxiety faded away. I realized that He had brought her to our home so that I could answer my own questions.
The second thing God did happened through a major inconvenience. One of my roles with IFM was to take care of all their computers at their two locations; Colorado and Texas. The night before we were to start driving from Colorado to Texas I got a call from the Colorado IFM office about a computer failure. It was almost an hour’s drive from our house to the office. I was not eager to go, but it couldn’t be helped. When I arrived at the office everyone was gone, so I worked alone. Thankfully the fix took less than an hour. On my way out I noticed an envelope on the corner of a desk that had my name written on it. I hadn’t seen it when I came in, but it could have been there. Inside the envelope was cash, more than enough to pay for fuel and food for the trip to Texas the next day. I have no idea where the envelope came from or who gave us that money, but it came at the perfect time to demonstrate that God was indeed behind this big move, and that we can trust Him. Don’t be anxious! (Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:6)