LIVING IN NORTHERN ASIA was not what I expected at this point in our ministry. Our church was thriving with new ministries and effectively reaching out in witness to our capital city. The new church building was almost completed. Our children and grandchildren lived either in Austin or a short trip away in Keene, Texas. Now this call from an unknown president in a faraway church division. How could God ask us to take such a huge leap of faith?
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head” (Psalm 139:1-5, NLT).
So God began to make His calling clear. Soon I was in the garage packing for a move to an entirely new area of the world, and to a new way to minister. I was complying but still struggling with my thoughts.
God is always so good. While I was deep in the process of deciding what to take to South Korea and what to store, God interjected a hymn into my thoughts: “Peace, Perfect Peace.” It is found in the Adventist hymnal on page 463, but here are the verses that came specifically to my mind (as they were originally written by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr., in 1875).
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown? Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
As these words played in my mind, I remembered this passage from Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT).
As we took steps forward toward Asia, God continued to repeat His call and remind us of His presence during our transition. It happened through people, His Word, and our devotional reading.
We met with our elders for a Sabbath lunch at our home. There were tears and kind affirmations. Most of all, they encouraged us that active ministry would go on. “We have experienced what it is like to interact with our Austin community. We will continue!” one elder said with deep conviction.
The comment that most cheered our hearts and freed us for this new calling came from our head elder, Fawn Escalante. “In the past I have sometimes let the pressures of life get me down. But we must remember that as Christians we know how it ends. God wins, and He wins us. Why do we live like we are in retreat or defeat? Bring it on!”
Our children were distressed at our leaving. We had brand new grandbabies in two of our daughters’ families. But our family courageously admonished us to move forward. Our son spoke strength into our hearts: “Dad and Mom, God made you to do this. It is the right thing to do. We will miss you terribly, but there is Skype. And we will always be connected by prayer.”
GOD CONFIRMED HIS CALLING
Thoughts and encouragements further cemented our resolve. It turned out that my husband, David, was struggling too. Although he had been called to a new position, ministerial secretary, he felt his work in Austin was not complete.
David had been harassed for some time by a heel that made him hobble, especially in the morning. Our pastor daughter, Heather, encouraged him to ask for a sign. So he went to God with this need: “If I can’t walk from the house to the car, how will I walk everywhere in Asia?”
The next day we had a painting bee at the new church building. He was on his feet, and up and down ladders, all day—without pain!
“We need to know of an almighty arm that will hold us up, of an infinite Friend that pities us. We need to clasp a hand that is warm, to trust in a heart full of tenderness. And even so God has in His Word revealed Himself” (Education, p. 133).
When the call first came through, it was clear that David had a place to serve. But I was not sure where I might fit. Our first Skype call with the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) administrative team removed that uncertainty. Dr. Lee, NSD president, pointed out the need for pastors—men and women (especially in China, where 60 percent of our pastors are women). He asked me to serve as the assistant ministerial secretary!
“Each has [his/her] place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in cooperation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God” (Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 326, 327).
When we got on the plane to fly to Seoul, South Korea, we still struggled emotionally. It was so hard to leave our children, grandchildren, and church family. Yet, a foundation of certainty and anticipation supported us. God had a work for us to do, and He would—and did—lead the way.