We have some huge news to share…
Yes, you read that right.
(If you’re not interested in the “why” of this news, or how we journeyed to this point, you can skip down to the section about the nitty gritty stuff – the “when, what, and where” below. But for those that would like to know more, I’ll share more here.)
Around this time last year we felt like God was beginning to agitate us to consider a big change. We felt like he was stirring us about transition but we didn’t exactly know what that meant, other than the fact that our YWAM base was considering the purchase of a new property in downtown Townsville and a new ship for our work within PNG. (Those are some major changes, right??!)
But as we prayed and talked and sought counsel from the Lord and others that we trust, we realized that the change was going to be more personal for our family.
Many years ago the Lord spoke to Ryan about his time at YWAM Townsville being an apprenticeship, and we feel that his “apprenticeship” is now over and it’s time for us to consider what life and ministry will look like for us as a family in this next season. Ryan’s turning 40 on March 1st (woohoo!) and we both desire to specialize more in our areas of gifting as we enter into this new decade.
For both of us, we believe that means remaining in ministry/missions, and—we hope—our “tribe” of YWAM here in Australia. For Ryan that also means pursing his gifting as “pastor” – most likely not in the traditional sense of the word (as in pastoring a local church), but in preaching and teaching and coaching people into their call. For Adriel that means focusing more on writing and speaking and mobilizing people into missions and every day ministry within their realm of influence.
We both have a strong desire to see people grasp the wonderful nature of God, understand their identity in Christ, and then find their place to fulfill His purposes in their lives. That is our family purpose and shared passion.
The reality is, as much as we love serving with YWAM, we understand that our call and passion could take on a million different forms and we don’t want to be presumptuous in our decision-making for the future.
The future and the unknown:
As we prepare to leave Townsville, we are also preparing for a huge leap of faith into the unknown. For months God’s been speaking to us out of Genesis 12 where He calls Abraham to leave his father’s household, take all his belongings, and go to a land that God will show him. For us we believe this means packing up and leaving our home in Townsville and trusting that God will show us where to “settle”.
For many years we’ve had inner Sydney on our hearts as a place of ministry and we wonder if our next assignment will include work in the heart of the city there. There is a YWAM presence in the city, but no permanent YWAM work established in the inner city yet. Could this be our next mission? We aren’t 100% sure yet, but we are considering and asking the Lord to show us as we prepare for our next steps. (Ryan is from the farthest suburbs of southern Sydney, so it would also put us close to family, which would be absolutely wonderful. Being in a major city would also give us much easier access to America, and easier access to the nations we have a heart to serve in.)
The time for rest:
On February 1st (cyclone season permitting!) we will leave Townsville and drive to Sydney to spend a few weeks visiting family, friends, supporters, and our church there. (Adriel will also be teaching on a DTS for a week in Newcastle.) And then at the end of February we will leave for America where we plan to take a furlough/sabbatical – first to rest and refresh our bodies, souls, and spirits, and then to be further equipped and prepare for our next ministry venture. After 28 combined years on the mission field, we both feel it’s necessary to have a good break before we’re able to head into the next assignment with passion, vision, and strategy. The last few years—both difficult and very, very good—have taken a toll on us and our greatest priority is now to rest and focus on our health in all aspects. We also feel that it’s out of a place of genuine rest that God will show us more clearly how to move forward with our family and life work.
We’re grateful to our YWAM leaders and pastors for being so supportive of our need and desire to rest before taking on more. We’ve also been meeting with our national YWAM leaders to open the dialogue about what our next steps might look like and they are nothing but encouraging and affirming as we pray about the possibilities.
The boys are extremely excited. Even before we had discussed things with them, Levi began regularly saying (without prompting) that we should “get a new house” and “go to Sydney” and “go to America with Gigi and Grampy for a while”. Although we didn’t take these as signs from heaven that we should proceed, it has helped to reassure us that God’s been preparing their little hearts for this huge change, too.
We’ve explained that this means we’ll be leaving our house here for good and that we’ll miss our friends and the YWAM base very much. They are sad about leaving their buddies and special “aunties” especially, but right now they’re just so excited to see their grandparents (and “Uncle Andy’s skate park”!) that nothing much else registers. Of course Levi understands far more than Judah… and both of them can’t wait to use their kid-sized roller suitcases to transport toys on the airplane. 🙂
The nitty gritty of what this all means:
1. We’re moving! At the beginning of February we’ll move our belongings into a shipping container, which will be loaded on a train and stored in Sydney for the time being.
2. We’re coming! We plan on spending a few weeks in Sydney (February) and a few months in Bend (March onwards). We’d love to see you and strengthen friendships and enjoy our families during unhurried, unpressured visits. And this point we’re unsure what it will all look like, but we’d also really love to travel to various friends/families in the States and Canada that support us at some point during our furlough. (Have a camper van or RV that you’d be willing to loan us? You would be a Godsend!!) How long will we stay in America? Well, that will partly be determined by the American Immigration Department. (Pray for a straightforward process as we apply for Ryan’s visa!)
3. We’re seeking! Ryan would like to take some kind of a course related to bible study and teaching/preaching during our break. Please let us know if you are aware of a short-term opportunity that he might attend/audit or take online through a church or seminary. Adriel would like to attend a writers’ seminar, workshop, or conference of some kind if the opportunity presents.
4. We’re praying! After some very deliberate downtime during the first part of our furlough, we will get more strategic about praying through our next ministry assignment, whether it ends up being inner Sydney or something we’ve not yet considered. Will you pray with us that we’ll know the Lord’s leading clearly? We do not take this decision-making process lightly and need wisdom and discernment and faith. Will you also pray that we’ll be able to find true rest and not strive to make plans or figure things out ahead of or outside of God’s timing.
5. We’re needing! One of our biggest needs will be a car to use during our time in the States. If you have something reliable that can be used for around town as well as road trips can you please let us know? This will be a fairly urgent need, beginning in early March and lasting for several months. (If you have a car that you could loan us but aren’t in Bend, we could probably make arrangements for that, too – as long as it is on the West Coast somewhere.) Also as I mentioned before, we hope to borrow or rent an RV or camper in order to visit friends and supporters around the mainland, perhaps around May or June.
6. We’re planning! Although we have many details yet to be worked out, we hope and plan to be settled in our new location before the holidays at the end of this year. Levi will start school (“prep”, the Australian equivalent of American kindergarten) at the end of January 2015 and we’d like to be established in a home and neighborhood before then in order to make that transition as smooth as possible for him. Again though, there are many variables and we’d like to stay open!
Lastly, can you please just pray for our family in general? This transition is HUGE, especially for Ryan after serving 15 years in Townsville, and we need grace, grace,grace in order to do it well. We are grieving the loss of life and ministry as we’ve known it here, and—as excited as we are about the changes ahead—we are sad to say goodbye to friends who’ve grown as close as family, a ministry center that we’ve worked so hard to help establish and develop, and the home we’ve become a family in. (And then there’s the ‘little’ task of packing up an entire house with small children at your feet. Pray for Adriel too!)
If you’ve made it this far – PHEW, well done!! This was no small letter.
We want you to know how grateful we are for the many who pray for us, encourage us, advise us, support us financially, and most of all – who love us. We’re headed into the future knowing that we’re not alone… and that makes ALL the difference.
With love and gratitude,
Adriel & Ryan