While seeking the will of the Lord in regards to our missionary service, we found it helpful to study the life of Paul, the first and greatest missionary of all time. The most notable aspect of Paul's ministry is that he was moved from place to place quite frequently.
So we began to try and identify how Paul knew when and where to go. Interestingly enough, Paul often allowed himself to be removed from dangerous situations. Such as when he allowed himself to be lowered over the wall in a basket. But at other times , he boldly walked into dangerous place, such as the synagogues, where he preached Christ as the Messiah, only to be stoned, repeatedly. Sometimes Paul moved on to the next logical place, but at other times he was moved about by the winds of a storm and a shipwreck. Only once did he receive a Macedonian style call.
What we gleaned from all this was that perhaps contrary to modern mission methods, it is wise for the missionary to be more mobile, not so attached to anyone place or people.
Once we allowed ourselves to be open to the idea of leaving Venezuela, no easy task, the next obvious question was, WHERE THEN?
We began by verifying that we feel especially qualified to work with Spanish speaking people. We know the language, we know the culture, we enjoy the people.
We studied each and every country in south America. Some we have visited and others through investigation and questioning people there.
Peru, a large country, but many missionaries are there and there are Bible Institutes for training leadership,
Costa Rica, ditto,
Guyana, the English speaking nation with many tribes, does hold an appeal for us, but due to other factors, we were not led that direction,
The Island of Antigua, has a large Spanish speaking population as well. Many Venezuelans are migrating there looking for a way out of Venezuela,
Argentina, we had almost went to Argentina 19 years ago when we had difficulties getting our Visas for Venezuela. We have been approached by missionaries in Bueanos Aires, but we don't know how well we would adapt to such a large city,
Mexico, also needy but...
Bolivia, not with Evo Morales!!
Chile, is interesting
One thing more we know from experience is that you can not leave a place because of fear. You could end up somewhere else just as bad. We have been here and stayed through many tough times but have never, until now, felt it was time to leave.
In November , I had to have some more lesions removed and some were Carcinoma, again. I have been dealing with this problem for 4 years or so now. It isn't getting easier. The oncologist suggested that if I remain in the equatorial area, with it's direct solar rays and long days all year long, most likely I will end up needing chemo therapy within the next 10 years. She suggested that a move further north or south, away from the tropics, could be helpful in the long term. This certainly narrowed the options and confirmed the need for us to leave Venezuela.
Basically, that leaves, Spain, to the north. We have never felt a call to Spain and though the language is the same the culture can be quite different.
To the south, would imply , Chile, or Paraguay.
We found that the 2 countries most in need of IFB missionaries are Paraguay and Uruguay. Uruguay is going socialistic , and as you all know, Brian and Jackie McCobb, our Son-in-law and daughter, are the only BIMI missionaries in Paraguay. The attraction of the grandchildren is strong!!
Upon further investigation, we found there is not a lot of leadership training going on. There are a lot of rural areas in Paraguay also in need of churches.
So, yes, as I let slip in an earlier post, we are headed to Paraguay!!!!
Slowly, we see the Lord renewing a vision for a new work in our hearts. It is still not easy to think of leaving Venezuela where we have been for 20 years, but one thing that is very clear to us is that we are OUTSPOKEN! And in the next few years this will also become dangerous here.I don't know if you all picked up on our outspokenness?!?! Something to do with an I Love Lucy style redhead and an ex-marine, maybe?
Another deciding factor is that our children have already went through a lot. It is hard for them to not be bitter against the government here and it is hard for them to feel secure at all. They know that on any day HHH, the president of the Socialist Republic of Hugoslavia could once again force them from their home and church. We feel they have handled the situation very well, but it has affected us all and the two girls in particular.
So pray for us! It's not easy to up and leave everything you know and start all over. One of the reasons we would stay is because it is actually less scary to stay, come what may, then to up-root, again, and start anew.
Those of you who know my husband, know he is man who enjoys a challenge. He prefers pioneering a ministry. In a lot of ways, here in Venezuela, he is lacking that drive, that challenge under which he thrives. The thought of going to Paraguay has renewed that for him.
Here are a few pictures of a rural ministry in a small village from our visit to Paraguay in 2003. When we went there we never expected to go and live there!!!