Welcome to our space. We are so grateful to be walking with you on this journey.
Tim has recorded some of the processing in us getting here and he shared this in a sermon recently at our church and it follows here as it was given.
What I’d thought I’d do today, is simply share where I’ve been. Admittedly, what we’re endeavoring to do is somewhat unique, so I thought you may be interested in how I got here.
It would be my hope that perhaps God will use our processing, and my questions, to encourage you.
I’ll briefly give you some background.
Some time after I met Jesus, in typical prodigal son fashion, I became more interested in pleasing me than following after Him. After several years, and much self-inflicted and circumstantial pain, at a very empty, pathetic place, I turned, and found my Father waiting for me. I experienced grace in a deep, healing way that I had not known previously. I came back with nothing to offer. God had taken me to a place of brokenness…because it was the only way I’d see Him. He allowed the whole experience to be painful enough that I’d never forget. God allowed me to see, with real clarity, where a life devoted to self would lead. For the first time I recognized that life was knowing His love for me—as I was—-no pretending. You know, this is the most beautiful place to be loved. No pretending. My Father met me at that place.
Most of you have been to that honest, broken place, and met your Father there. Perhaps, you have never known God in this way. You can know Him in this way today.
My relationship with my Father began to grow and I wanted to see others experience this same healing, relationship with Him. I wanted to come alongside hurting people, and love them. This was a first for me. I recognized the link between pain and having “ears to hear”. Doesn’t pain have a way of opening our ears? I saw that hurting people were best comforted by people who had hurt.
Interestingly, during this time, I also developed a disorder called social phobia, that lasted for about 15 yrs. Social phobia involves a profound discomfort in social situations. I can’t tell you how many times I asked God to take it away. I can’t tell you how many times, as well, that God has brought me along side someone struggling with some form of anxiety disorder, and God has used me to provide comfort. Not understanding, but comfort. If you’re hurting, I can promise you that God will use your pain for someone else’s comfort down the road.
I began to consider going to a developing culture, because of the suffering there. I met a retired missionary who cared enough to ask me some questions. He encouraged my pursuit, but suggested that, because I was young, that I spend some time acquiring skills that God could use to meet needs overseas, like carpentry or well-digging. When he found out I had a biology degree, he suggested health care and communicated to me the great need for medical help in the poorer cultures. In the next three months, I went from having no desire for medicine to applying to medical school. God used one conversation with one man to change the course of my life. I am one example of how God can use us profoundly in our young people’s lives when we take the time to listen, and speak into them.
Medicine had always been a turnoff because of the long preparation time. Ironically, I found out that I needed two additional years of school just to get into med school. At this point, something had changed in me and it didn’t bother me a bit. I’d been told that once you leave this country, parasites were a big part of illness, so I studied parasitology for two years. So, after the “call”, I had a somewhat long time of preparation and learning. Two years of grad school, four years of med school, three years of residency, and the whole time dealing with this social phobia, so that I could hardly interact with people. Danny says its so common for God to call, then prepare, then fulfill. God met me at each step in the journey, with beautiful people, and plenty of instruction and encouragement. If you are a young person today, please take the time to seek God, to prepare, for the road ahead. You will benefit, if you do. Its usually better to wait and prepare, than to run ahead.
While in med school, I took several trips to rural Haiti and my desire to practice third world medicine was confirmed. My wife, Betsy, accompanied me there for two months in our first year of marriage and it was there that we decided to see what God had for us regarding children and that we would readdress the missionary issue in a few years .
Well, we blinked, and it was ten very nice years later. Betsy heard that Danny was taking a trip to Brazil, just as this church was forming, and she encouraged me to go. The previous missionary call, at this point, was buried in a busy life with four great kids, a practice, etc. and I went for rest, fellowship, etc.
During that trip, however, it all came back. With such passion and certainty. I sensed immediately that this would be the next step of our journey. I can still remember standing in the Bergen’s yard, being blown away by what was going through me.
Bets, however, was a long way away, in more ways than one. Some of the guys on the trip prayed with me that God would prepare Bets and would give me wisdom. Well, I came back and I said very little…for about an hour…then I talked for 3 days. After all my passion and persuasion…She honestly and simply said, “I don’t want to do this.”
We were at completely different places. This would be the most challenging thing we’d faced in our relationship. I didn’t like where Bets was, she didn’t like where I was.
Thus began a season of wrestling. With Bets, with God, with myself. At times I wrestled well, at times I wrestled so poorly. My places of wrestling were not very profound. The questions were honest, and pretty basic.
What is God’s will for my life? Was God “calling” us? What does that mean? Could we do this? Could we do this and stay married? Did we have what it takes? We’d met missionaries, and we were NOT missionaries.
Was this a good move for our kids? What about our sheep? Wasn’t the need just as great here? Was this too extreme, risky?
Could I love Bets and lead her away from security, friendships, comforts?
Every day, more questions flooded in and I began a time of searching like I hadn’t known for some time.