Saturday, December 20, 2014

Our Journey Part I

I would love to be able to eloquently describe in vivid details the emotions we have experienced the last two years. I would love to articulate the problems we faced but I cant. Not because I don’t want to disclose that information, but because it is so unexplained, that we just cant find a way to express it to you. However, we want you to know, so here is our best attempt to catch you up to date.

I had gone on the field knowing that Spiritual Warfare was inevitable. We were marching into an area held in bondage by witchcraft and spiritual worship. However, I had no idea what it would look like, and it came in a way that held me captive by confusion. It did not come in the form of temptation like I had imagined it would. It didn’t come as a blazing fire labeled ‘warfare’. It came subtly and left me so confused that I thought I was crazy. I was beat down and didn’t even know why or how to even begin to pinpoint the cause. I decided to bury these fears deep and to ignore them. Little did I know they would all come flowing out in the fall of 2013.

That November, we had a team meeting in Lokichoggio, Kenya (where we lived). This meant that all our friends and co workers in S.Sudan and surrounding countries would gather together for a time of prayer, fellowship and updates. We had been looking forward to it. During this meeting, we realized that each one of us was tired and worn. It was during this meeting that I felt the need to verbalize for the first time things that had been holding me in confusion and fear. Our member care was there, so we sat down on the last evening and out poured all these mysterious issues I had been dealing with. Jonathan was hearing many of them for the first time. Our sweet member care, who are our dear friends, decided it would be best to remove us from the area for a short time and dig deeper into the issue. They did not have answers and were too confused themselves at what was taking place. They suggested we just take a month in Nairobi to try and figure out what was going on. The meeting ended and everyone returned to their homes.  We waited in
Lokichogio for further instructions. On top of everything, we were both in deep depression, that neither one of us could lift the other up. The only way we got any relief from this heavy weight was to go into the villages and do ministry, so we did.

A few days later, on my birthday, we got a call. It had been a really tough day and Jonathan had heated up kettles of water and filled the bath for me to have a hot bath on my birthday. I was trying to relax, but then I heard Jonathan on the phone and his voice sounded bothered. He had just received a phone call and we were being sent to the States for a month. You would think joy would overcome us, but we had been looking forward to Christmas with our Turkana friends for months. We had so many wonderful plans. We could not leave, not now. We tried to make our case that we would be fine, just let us get through Christmas and then we would take care of ourselves.  But, thank the Lord that those making the decision were not us, rookies, but Godly men who had years of experience and knew red flags when they saw them.

Before we knew it, we were landing in Charlotte, NC. We told no one of our homecoming and stayed our first night in the states in a hotel near our families. The next day would bring tears of joy as we surprised our family and received overdue hugs. However, little did we know the following year would bring heartache we could never imagine as we journeyed on the road for answers.

Our Journey Part II

All of us assumed we would go talk to a counselor, get an answer, and be on our way back to Lokichoggio before long.  However, appointment after appointment led us down a deep dark road of disappointment, frustration, and more questions. We talked to psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, pastors, counselors and more doctors. No one had an answer. Test after test came back negative. Each result would bring a doctor out scratching his head. We were healthy and one could find anything wrong, so they gave their best guess. Some said we were crazy and needed medication, others said we were experiencing side effects from a strong malaria prevention we had taken for a year. But nothing was definite, no guess from the professionals led us any closer to going back, in fact they all lead us further away. Month after month passed, and we were worse off then when we left. Deep into depression we spiraled. We were so deeply broken and without the joys that our Turkana brought, we were faced to look straight into the dark ugly face of this mystery. We spent the first six months in the darkest place emotionally and spiritually that either one of us had ever ventured. Our families were caught in the middle as we lived in their homes. They hurt with us and were crushed to see their children in so much emotional pain, but unable to do anything about it. They lost sleep, and saw our ugly brokenness. There we lay before them, crushed, with no answers, no motivation, and no hope of going back on the field.

 I know by now your mind is rushing to try and figure out what happened to us. Well, let me give your mind some rest and let you know that is isn’t a deep dark sin, or a medical issue. It is something still unexplained to us, but we have stopped trying to throw a label on the problem. Please understand that it isn’t we don’t want to reveal it, but we cant.  Just know that we went into a place held in bondage by Spiritual darkness thinking we were untouchable. We did not understand the tactics of the enemy and we were unprepared for the battle. We did not understand the full power and need for prayer. We tried to handle the attacks through our own strength. So, I guess this is the whole point of us putting all this out there is, The war is bigger than us, and the enemy is smart. However, he is also defeated and our God is bigger. Period. We NEED to be DAILY praying for each other!!!! We NEED prayer and lots of it. Pray for us, and other missionaries!!! The enemy wants to cause disunity, confusion, and fear. Pray that we would see where there is not unity and strive to stand strong where relationships are crumbling (Pray Eph. 4:1-3). Pray that we would be in tune to God’s leading and that we would not be blinded by confusion  (Pray 1 Peter 5:8-11). Pray that when fear comes on us so thick, that we would be able to rest in Christ and His Word (1 Peter 3:13-17).

Slowly, we have been pieced back together. We did not get this way through doctors or counselors, but through the fellowship of the church and through the encouragement of our families. Each person praying for us, the Sunday School class in Asheville praying over us, individuals letting us rest in their homes and showering us in encouragement, realizing the importance of immersion in God’s Word, and appreciating the beauty of marriage and it’s purpose. Even though no one knew our situation and heartbreak, it didn’t matter. So many just poured their love over us even in our brokenness, even in our inability to thank them. We were too weak to move and encourage them back, and yet they still gave. Out of the selflessness, they mentored us, had us over for dinners, and met us for coffee. Little by little we gained strength to sit up. We then were able to brush ourselves off and actually stand, but still weak and feeble, we needed the support of those around us. Through perseverance of others reaching out to us and praying for us and through His leading and His Word, we are stronger then we have ever been. As I open my Bible, the tear stained pages and notes jotted down in the margin, remind me at how far God has brought us. A man who faced far more then I could ever imagine, once said “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generation, for ever and ever! Amen.” Eph. 3:20 & 21