After getting married we settled down into our day to day jobs. I was a Senior Software Engineer at Parametric Technology. Melissa taught piano lessons for 40+ students.
One thing you should know, for better or worse, we are both big planners and enjoy talking about the future. If you are married, you will be no stranger to the fact that you may both have different visions of your future together and what it might look like. Melissa talked about having a “missions house” where anyone who needed a place to stay could come to be served and rejuvenated. I have always felt called to reach out past our borders into some other country. The thoughts had been in our minds for a long time, but it was never very clear what exactly they meant and how those two plans could converge, if that was even possible. At this point in our marriage, we had large amounts of student debt. Nothing was going to happen for a while.
Fast forward five years. We paid off our student loans! Free! Now what do we do? This is when we really started to pray. Pray, pray, pray. We decided to start going through the application process with Covenant World Missions. During this time we met with our church missions team. We were very honest with them, and they were honest with us. We were not quite ready. However, they felt prompted to ask us to join them on the Compassion/Justice/Missions Team (We didn’t know it at the time but this is key ).
Throughout our marriage we have continued to be involved with a Bible study. This particular Sunday, Jeff Berg came as a guest to speak on the Holy Spirit. During our session, he felt the Holy Spirit telling him that God was calling Melissa and me to be a part of a Barnabas type ministry – coming along side people to guide and help them. Though we were very open to what he was saying, we had no idea at the time what that meant for us.
Now onto the good part…
Piecing the Puzzle Together
Now we go back to the Compassion/Justice/Missions Team. Mary, a teammember, has strong ties with Troy & Tara Livesay who are missionaries down in Haiti. Tara forwarded Mary an email about needing a couple to help out at the Heartline guest house. Mary thought of Melissa and passed it on.
Needless to say, this excited Melissa. A “guest house” – what does that mean? It sounded like it aligns with our strengths of hospitality. More importantly, it aligns with Melissa’s desire to have a house where people can stay and be rejuvenated.
For the first time since being married it was like our passions both intertwined – my desire to serve in another country and Melissa’s vision of a missions house. We never, ever thought it was possible to have those two visions come together.
We immediately started talking with John, the head of Heartline. In one of our correspondences, he mentioned the job description. He said that this is a very important ministry, even if it doesn’t sound like it at first. It is a Barnabas-like ministry where you would be serving the missionaries who go out into the field. No way! This is weird, exactly what Jeff mentioned a few weeks ago back at our Bible study. To be honest, I had to go look up what a “Barnabas ministry” really even meant. I have never heard it phrased that way before and now two people just told us about it for the first time in my life.
These little confirmations are what really kept our hearts open to doing this. When we went to visit, we were rocked by how great the devastation is in Haiti. It isn’t a third world country, it’s a fourth world country.
We have never seen anything like what we experienced during this visit. No video or photograph is going to truly portray the struggle and poverty. The life of the average Haitian bears very little resemblance to the lives to which we had become accustomed. We were challenged by our materialism and our expected level of comfort. We had both imagined what a life in Haiti would look like, but we quickly realized that we had completely underestimated the difficulty of even simple daily tasks.
As we learned more and more about our island neighbor, our hearts were broken. It seemed unfathomable that such conditions could exist in a nation that sat only two hours off of America’s shores.
Preparing to Move There
Since returning from Haiti, we have spent much time in prayer, the Word, and talking to trusted friends and relatives about our decision. It has become very clear that God urgently wants us there to serve at the Guest House through Heartline Ministries.
Things have been falling into place very quickly. Our biggest obstacle was our house. We bought a townhouse six years ago, and since the economy crashed, it has dropped drastically in value. Without spending every penny of our savings and possibly taking out a loan, there was no way we could sell it before going. We looked at the option of a short-sale, but after the realtor asked us to do some things we felt unethical – such as hiding money, not paying our mortgage, and avoiding calls from our bank, we decided that we wanted to do things the Royal Way – God’s Way. Within two days of posting our house for rent on Craigslist, we got a call from a young, married Christian couple who need a place to stay for two years! Everything about it felt right, and even they said that finding and renting our place was a total “God-thing!”
We are now moved out of our house, Melissa quit her job, and Ryan put in his notice at work. The month of July will be spent taking care of all the details to be completed before moving to Haiti. There have been so many little confirmations along the way from the Lord, and it has been amazing to see him take care of even the tiniest details.