This week is the fourth anniversary of our vision trip to PA. It was on October 24, 2002, that we arrived in Harrisburg amidst snow flurries and falling leaves.
At that point, we were just praying and seeking God's direction--whatever that might be. I was secretly hoping that He would let us stay in Oklahoma City. I loved working at the Children's Home, and being so close to my parents--who had finally retired on American soil.
But God had a different plan. That night, as freezing rain pelted the roof of the mission house, my heart began to change. Here is my journal entry from that day:
God woke me up about 3am, and began speaking to me. The words of a Mercy Me song were playing in my head.In my quiet time, I had just started the book of Joshua. That second morning in PA, I read what was already one of my favorite passages of scripture.God spoke very clearly. "I am in this place." In my heart I understood that He was at work in Pennsylvania, and I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment."Word of God speak.
Would you pour down like rain.
Washing my eyes to see Your Majesty.
To be still and know that You're in this place.
Please let me stay and rest in your Holiness.
Word of God speak."
Scripture verses began to pop in my head. Most of them were about God's character and faithfulness. Praise songs played in my mind, and I had a really sweet time of intimate fellowship with the Lord.
Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
In the past when I have read that passage, it's the "be strong and courageous", "meditate on the Word" and "the Lord is with you" messages that I notice.
But this time verse 5 seemed to jump off the page at me. "Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you." For the rest of the day, as we drove through York and Shippensburg looking at campuses, those words were in the forefront of my mind.
I understood how God had been with Moses. I had just finished reading through the account of the wanderings in the desert. God was ever-present, interceding, faithful, forgiving, compassionate, but also HOLY in those accounts. The thought that He could abide with us in the same manner blew me away.
I filed that thought away to mull over later.
We looked at various campuses in the Central PA area, but it was not until three days later in Pittsburgh that we knew we were home. Here's my entry from the 27th.
We really liked the CMU campus. Something just felt right about it. Pittsburgh was pretty, too. I would be scared to death of driving here, but would get used to it, I'm sure. I really like the bridges and all the tall, skinny houses. I'm scared to death today, but excited at the same time!
And here we are now.....four years later.....settled and established in the place where God has called us.
Looking back, it's incredible to see how God orchestrated it all.
March, 2003--went to support school in Topeka, Kansas. Felt like God further confirmed our calling through one of our team leaders, who was from Pittsburgh, and had been saved while in college. His Jewish family had totally disowned him after his conversion, but Ellis went on into full-time ministry and is now impacting college ministers all over the United States through Campus Crusade.
September 1, 2003--It became clear that we needed to make our calling public, and focus full-time on support raising. We quit our jobs and spent the next weeks intensely praying and visiting prospective supporters.
October, 2003--Doug moved to Pittsburgh to find us a house. He came home right before Thanksgiving.
December 28th, 2003--after a hurried Christmas that we barely even remember--we loaded up the moving van and drove to Pennsylvania. Amazingly, we were at 80% of our support!!! I can't even tell you how it came in--it's like God just put it in our account Himself.
December 31, 2003--closed on a home I had just seen for the first time.
January, 2004--Moved in amidst 28 straight days of snow and freezing rain. Had our first CrossSeekers worship time on campus, and started meeting with our intern, Chris Massa.
But when we walked into our first meeting at CMU, I felt really out of place. There were only 12 students there--all male--most of them graduate students--and all engineers. My first thought was, "How will I ever fit into this environment?"
March, 2004--We realized that we were not going to be able to do campus ministry the way it had been done when we were in college. So we scrapped all of our agendas, and just began praying that God would send 8 core leaders to build upon.
2004-2005 school year--it was amazing what God did. One by one, those leaders simply walked through the door and told us that God had led them to be part of our group. It certainly wasn't anything that we were doing. Jarrod said that he actually hated our meetings at first, but came out of obedience to God. : )
2005-2006--we just stand in awe of what God has done. Our group has grown, and reflects a diversity and broad spectrum of campus life (no longer just male, graduate engineers--although we still have some of those who are key leaders in our group and who we are so thankful for!!!) We have been privileged to see students come to Christ, and others grow deeper in their walk. We've seen them gain a heart for missions and a passion for unreached people groups. We've had opportunities to serve, both in our own community and overseas. Our small groups are thriving. The students are passionate about reaching their lost friends. God is at work on our campus.
October 29, 2006--we start the new church plant in Oakland. We'll be meeting in John and Amanda's apartment, and starting with 12 core members.
November, 2006-eternity--can't wait to see what God has planned. : )
WOW!!! Even though these past four years have had tough points, too, I can only be grateful that God has allowed us to be part of what He is doing in Pittsburgh.
Isa 64:3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
Isa 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.