A number of people have asked me to chronicle how I came to be in America so here’s my best attempt at explaining what happened:
Debbie and I had met and married in 1997. She moved to England from the USA the day after we married and immediately started praying that God would move us to the USA.
Let me explain a little for those who don’t know what it’s like to live your life by the call of God.
I know there are some people reading this who don’t even believe in God so let me ask you to suspend your disbelief for a moment and try to look at things through my eyes.
I believe that there is a God. Moreover, I believe that there is a God who loves me, knows what’s best for me and wants to be a part of my life.
If God truly knows what is best for me, then I have to ask for his guidance in the decisions I make. Now I see how this could be disabling, never being able to decide the smallest thing without asking God first but that’s really not how it works. I am free to make my own choices but I choose to follow God’s leading in the major ones and ask him daily for wisdom in making the smaller ones.
It’s a little like working for a company. The management make the big decisions but give the staff some lee way to make the smaller ones. The boss has an open-door policy though. Anything I want to discuss with him, I can – and he’ll point out the mistakes I make and help me learn from them.
So, moving country is a pretty big decision in my opinion.
If God had work he wanted me to do in England then moving to the USA would have been a pretty big mistake – and one that would have taken me 5,445 miles outside of his plan.
Debbie and her family prayed for over seven years that God would see fit to tell us to move to California but Debbie left the final decision down to me. That’s just the way we choose to do it – major decisions are ultimately mine to make. I listen to Debbie’s desires and point of view but the final choice is mine to make.
I was happy to move to the US but not until God said so.
In 2004 we were leading a youth group at our church. Three of the kids, a boy and his two sisters, were particularly special to us. We loved those kids like they were our own.
We were very sad to discover one day that their mother was dying of cancer.
The children’s father had been absent for some years and there was no-one else who would be able to look after them when their mum was gone.
Debbie and I readily offered to become the children’s guardians if and when their mum died. We prayed about it and were convinced that it was what God was calling us to do and we sold our house, rented a place in the village where they lived and bought a mini-van to be able to transport us all (see picture).
A couple of weeks before this dear lady died, the children’s father suddenly reappeared on the scene. Somehow or other he had heard of the situation and came to be the father his kids needed him to be.
That left us in limbo somewhat. We had sold our house and were living in a place that was bigger than we needed, cost more than we could afford – and our lease was up. On top of that, the reason we had moved there in the first place had disappeared.
We had a decision to make. We had strongly felt that God wanted us to move into that village and take care of those kids but their father had moved them to another part of the country – so what were we doing there?
We dedicated ourselves to praying and talking about our next move and Debbie came to me one day trying to suppress a smile. Trying not to sound too happy about it, she told me that she was convinced that God wanted us to move to the USA.
Here was crunch time.
Did I trust my wife enough to believe that God had told her it was time to move? Moreover, could I cope with the idea that God would speak to her and not me even though I was the one who had to make the final decision?
The answers to those questions are simple. My wife and I are a partnership. I’m not so arrogant that I’m going to try to tell God he has to speak to me and not my partner and it wouldn’t be a partnership if I didn’t trust my wife.
God wasn’t telling me anything different so we took the plunge and started the process of making the big move.
We came to realize that what God was looking for was faithfulness and obedience despite our own desires. Debbie desperately wanted to move back to the USA but was willing to fore go her own desires and commit herself to life in Britain to care for those kids, in obedience to God.
When we had proved our faithfulness to His call, then he could move us forward into the next part of his plan.
I believe that God had led us down that path 1) to test our obedience and 2) to make us mobile.
Three months later we were on a plane heading for California ready to see what God had in store for us.
We’re still learning why God has placed us here in Nowhere-town California. This sure isn’t where I would choose to be from a human perspective but I choose something different. I choose to go where God wants me and do what he tells me to do.
I figure he made me, gives me life, loves me, knows what’s best for me and my family and is Lord of all things – that’s enough reason for me to dedicate my life to following him wherever he may lead me. I don’t have to understand what he asks me to do, I just have to trust him – and he’s never steered me wrong.
People ask if I will ever go back and live in England again and my answer is simple:
I’ll go if God sends me but my prayer is simply this: Whatever you want, Lord, I’ll do. Wherever you send me, I’ll go and I will be happy wherever you want me because my strongest desire is to serve you.