We have an important announcement to inform you all about. God has lead us to make a field change from the country of China to Cambodia. While this decision has recently happened, it is easy to look back and see how God was working towards this happening for a while now. This has not been the easiest decision to come to grips with but now we are both excited about how God has changed our direction. The purpose of this update is to let you know of this decision, how God lead us to this decision, and how we would ask you to pray for us.
How God Lead Us Away from China
A couple of months ago we let you know that we finally got our visas and tickets to leave for Taiwan on July 1st. Not too long after this exciting news we found out that COVID was starting to spread in Taiwan, as mentioned a couple of weeks ago in our last update. This lead me to ask if I wanted to walk my pregnant wife and children into the middle of another lockdown. God used this time of thinking to remind us of the purpose of going to Taiwan in the first place.
Taiwan was always meant to be a temporary stop to begin learning Chinese until China opens up. It was never meant to be a permanent place of ministry for our family. The chances of being able to get into China anytime soon do not look great. If you are able to get in, the chances of being able to stay there long-term seem even more slim. The political tension between China and the US has grown tremendously within this year alone. As this letter is being typed, this point is being proven even more at the G-7 summit where this tension is on display. COVID also provides China with a convenient excuse to keep their borders closed to those they do not want in their country.
What does this mean practically? It means that we might spend a year or two in Taiwan learning Chinese and waiting for China to open just for it to remain closed. If this were to happen we would probably just stay in Taiwan permanently because we would not want to waste up to 2 years of learning Chinese. Taiwan is not where we feel lead for long-term ministry because our reasons for going to China do not exactly apply to Taiwan.
All of this brought us to a point of decision: do we go to Taiwan now, knowing that it is probably where we will end up long term? Or, do we switch fields now to a place that seems to better align with our God-given goals, skill sets, personalities, and desires? Through prayer and counsel we decided that switching fields is the way that God is leading us as this seems like the most wise decision.
How God Lead Us to Cambodia
Cambodia is where God has providentially lead us for long-term missions. In the past, Cambodia would have never been on our radar, so how did it get there? Glen and Sonya South along with their son, Theo, are a family sent out of our church heading to Cambodia. They will be leaving in the fall of this year. They were previously in Turkey for 2 years and God used them as they took part in a church plant during that time. After these 2 years they were not allowed back into the country of Turkey. God then redirected them to Cambodia. It was through their redirection that God introduced to us the idea of going to Cambodia with them. After being introduced to this idea, my wife and I spent time researching, seeking counsel, and praying. Through counsel and prayer, it was clear that this was the most wise decision for our family.
The events surrounding our families being connected as teammates are encouraging as they show God’s providential leading. God could have allowed them to stay in Turkey and allowed us to leave for China last May, but He did not do that. Instead, He delayed and changed our plans to bring us together.
Cambodia also better fits our desires and goals for a long-term field as China also did. To explain this would be quite a detailed discussion and might be more confusing than clarifying. To keep it as simple and clear as possible, I will just say that Cambodia better fits our goals and desires for a long-term field primarily in regards to their access to the Gospel. Cambodia is 95% Buddhist and only 1.5% Evangelical Christian. It is said that over 12,000 of the 14,000 villages in Cambodia do not even have a church. It is for these reasons, along with others not stated here, that God has lead us to Cambodia.
How to Pray for Us
First, please pray that over the next few months God would help transition our minds, hearts, and lives from China/Taiwan to Cambodia. This includes us learning about Cambodia and preparing for the unique set of challenges that living in Cambodia will present. Because this decision to change our field was made so close to the due date of our third child, we are waiting until January to move overseas. Due to the fact that we are less familiar with Cambodia in general and that their healthcare is not as reliable, we believe this is the wisest decision for our family.
Second, I ask that you would pray for me. “Letting go” of the plan to go to China is not easy for me. China is where I have wanted to go since I was 8. Pray that God would help me to believe practically that I was not created for China, but
for Himself and His glory. Pray that I would trust in His sovereign leading over our family.
Lastly, still pray for China. Pray for the missionaries who are there to be given boldness to proclaim the name of Jesus there. Pray that the doors would open for missionaries to get there more easily as I have friends who are waiting for this.
Over the next few months we will update you all on how this situation is progressing. There is a lot that has been figured out and there is just as much left to figure out. We did not make this decision on our own and sought much counsel through it all. Below are two letters. The first letter is from our pastor. The second letter is from our field director who spent 7 years in China and is currently in Taiwan. Thank you all for you love, support, and prayers!
If you have any questions or concerns, please call me or email me. I would be happy to discuss our decision further.