Saturday, March 18, 2017

How the Lord Answered My Prayer of 16 Years~Ministry Update

For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert
The parched ground shall become a pool,And the thirsty land springs of water;
In the habitation of jackals, where each lay,
There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
Isaiah 35:6-7 NKJV


Nothing so clears the vision and lifts up the life, as a decision to move forward in what you know to be entirely the will of God.
~John G. Paton



About a year and a half ago, our family moved from Rhode Island to Wisconsin, obeying our Heavenly Father's leading and calling in our lives to begin a ministry in the Midwest. We came with a minivan packed full to the brim and I came with a very fearful heart, but also with a heart that hoped in my God's precious promises. He went before us. And that first year in the great "wilderness" of Wisconsin was one of the most difficult years of my life, but I would not trade it and the lessons that the Lord taught me through it for anything. 

I missed my family and friends dearly. But I found in my loneliness a Friend in Jesus. I found peace in the quietness of seeking Him. I found rest in depending upon Him alone when there was no one else to turn to. Truly, He gave me grace in the wilderness. 

My husband and I came out here to begin a ministry--people have asked why Wisconsin? Do we have family here? Was it work-related? The very short answer is no. We moved to Wisconsin after years of seeking the Lord and becoming convinced that this was where He wanted us to be--that this was where He wanted us to begin the ministry that He called us to. We moved here in a simple act of obedience to the Lord as He enabled us by His grace--an act of obedience that I struggled with up to the very end when the Lord strongly spoke to me through a Ravi Zacharias sermon and through His Word. I said yes to the Lord through many tears. 

Years before that, I had begun to pray--to pray for the Lord's direction and guidance in my life in regards to this particular calling. I was around 18 years old when the Lord spoke to me--and I never imagined at that point how much time would pass before He accomplished His purpose in this particular area. 

And now I am seeing the fruition of 16 years of waiting in a beautiful and precious answer to prayer. 


My husband and I want to establish a place of rest here--a place where fellow believers can come and have a respite from the world as they seek the Lord, a place for missionaries to stay, a place for pastors to come apart for a time of refreshing, or for any Christian seeking rest and quietness. It needed to be a peaceful place with enough room to house our brothers and sisters. 

When I came here, my heart was burdened with three main concerns. A job for my husband that would provide for our family, a solid Gospel-driven church, and a place, a home, to establish this ministry. 

The Lord mercifully provided a job for my husband in his field just before we moved here and then recently opened up the door for a different job in the same field in response to our prayers for His provision. 

He opened up a place for us to worship Him-- a church that we love and where the Gospel is preached boldly and with compassion. This was another precious answer to prayer.  

But my third concern-- for a place, a home; this prayer went unanswered. I struggled when the time came for our lease to be renewed. We had been here for about a year, living in a rental home that was not the most cost-efficient place to live. We were traveling a good distance to church with two small children and my husband, after the Lord opened up the second job here for him, was commuting about an hour-and-a-half to work each way. 

I felt as though it would be "wiser" to move closer to our church and closer to my husband's job. I prayed and struggled and sought the Lord, earnestly trying to explain to Him why moving at that point would be best . . . 

I heard the Lord's silence. 

We looked at homes to rent in the area where we felt that we should possibly move. We considered purchasing a smaller home, which would be more cost-effective than renting, while we waited for the Lord to open the door for a home for our ministry. 

I felt hesitant, but we continued to explore options. 

The Lord kept stopping us--a house would already be rented or an offer had already been made on a home that we looking at. My husband and I began to think that perhaps the Lord had a different plan in mind and that we were supposed to stay where we were, at least for the time being--but we just could not understand why. We looked at one final house, hoping that maybe the Lord would show us otherwise. 

That night, I read a passage in the devotional Streams in the Desert--


When the cloud remained . . . the Israelites . . . did not set out. (Numbers 9: 19)
This was the ultimate test of obedience. It was relatively easy to fold up their tents when the fleecy cloud slowly gathered over the tabernacle and began to majestically float ahead of the multitude of the Israelites. Change normally seems pleasant, and the people were excited and interested in the route, the scenery, and the habitat of the next stopping place.
Yet having to wait was another story altogether. “When the cloud remained,” however uninviting and sweltering the location, however trying to flesh and blood, however boring and wearisome to those who were impatient, however perilously close their exposure to danger— there was no option but to remain encamped.
The psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Ps. 40:1). And what God did for the Old Testament saints, He will do for believers down through the ages, yet He will often keep us waiting. Must we wait when we are face to face with a threatening enemy, surrounded by danger and fear, or below an unstable rock? Would this not be the time to fold our tents and leave? Have we not already suffered to the point of total collapse? Can we not exchange the sweltering heat for “green pastures . . . [and] quiet waters” (Ps. 23: 2)?

When God sends no answer and “the cloud remain[ s],” we must wait. Yet we can do so with the full assurance of God’s provision of manna, water from the rock, shelter, and protection from our enemies. He never keeps us at our post without assuring us of His presence or sending us daily supplies.

Young person, wait— do not be in such a hurry to make a change! Minister, stay at your post! You must wait where you are until the cloud clearly begins to move. Wait for the Lord to give you His good pleasure! He will not be late!

And so, against what I humanly deemed as "wise and prudent," I decided to wait upon the Lord for His direction without actively seeking to move forward until I knew His hand leading; my husband and I committed to this course of seeming "inaction," renewed our lease, and decided to wait again upon the Lord in prayer. 



And interestingly, someone very close to me kept reminding me not to limit the Lord--I honestly was very doubtful that the Lord was going to open the door at that point for a home for us that would be the place for our ministry-there seemed to be too many obstacles and I just didn't see humanly how it could be done . . .   But  this person kept telling me to wait patiently--that I and my husband never knew what the Lord would do and at the same time the Lord continually kept reassuring me through His Word that He was ready to act in His perfect way.

The housing market remained grim. I worried and wondered and fretted and then returned to trusting in the Lord as we waited. Nothing came on the market that was suitable. 

Finally, as the time drew closer to when we would need to make a decision about whether or not to renew our lease again (the 6-month period that we had leased our rental house for was drawing closer to its end again), I believed that the Lord was telling me to seek Him more deliberately in prayer, and I set a side a period of time to do this. During that time, nothing still came on the market. Yet I waited, believing that His hand had led me to wait upon Him earnestly in prayer and so I did . . . 

Right at the end of this time of prayer and seeking the Lord, a house came on the market. I can only attribute what happened next as a miracle from the Lord's hand in direct answer to prayer. The house exactly fit what we were looking for for our ministry. It was set on almost four acres in a peaceful setting. Its outbuildings and layout would perfectly accommodate what we have been called to do.  And in the Lord's perfect mercy, the style of the home is one that I love--an old-fashioned 1890s house that reminds me of my beloved New England. Tears of joy come to me even now as I write this, and now that we realize that the Lord has given us this place for this time, for His purposes I can only say


I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV



Furthermore, to add to the Lord's merciful hand in all of these things, the home is located within a much easier commute to my husband's job and near our church. It is in a very rural setting, and yet easily accessible for people to find--I was concerned that we would be "out in the boondocks," in order to find something suitable, but the opposite is the case--we are in a very rural setting, located near a state park , but also in a location that is easy to find and access, which would be helpful for this kind of ministry. It is actually as though this home was made for what the Lord called us to--more than 100 years ago, no less! The Lord never ceases to amaze me and to challenge my "finite" thinking with His infinite plans. For years, I have been fascinated by missionary biographies and stories of the Lord's provision in the lives of people like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor. I have tried to follow their pattern of obedience and trust, although very imperfectly. And now I am again seeing this accomplished in a miraculous and merciful way in my own life. And I praise Him; it is all of grace. 

There were times when I doubted the Lord. There were times when I truly questioned my own sanity--when I questioned whether the Lord had really spoken to us. We had relocated halfway across the United States; some people literally thought that we were crazy, or at best, misled. But I held on to the certainty that the Lord had spoken to us and that He would fulfill His purpose, and He has. At the same time, the Lord held on to me and helped me and strengthened me in my times of discouragement. And He showed me His goodness in a wonderful and miraculous way. He gave us this home. 

Looking back now and writing this, I see that if we had done what seemed "wise" at the time, if we had trusted in our own understanding and ignored the Lord's gentle voice leading us to wait, we would have been locked into another lease or have purchased a home just before the Lord was ready to act and not have been able to move forward into the ministry that He called us to. I have learned through this experience once again, as I have in the past, that it is always better to wait upon the Lord when there is doubt. It is always better to trust in His wisdom, even if it seemingly contradicts the best of human wisdom. His plan may seem like it doesn't make sense, but He is preparing His best for us if we will wait upon Him and receive it. 

And so I praise Him for answered prayer--the answered prayer of 16 years, the prayer that I prayed in a little bedroom in Rhode Island as a teenager. And I pray that He would continue to pour out His grace in my life and make me into a willing vessel to accomplish His purposes. I pray that He will use this place of rest for His glory. And I pray especially that this testimony would strengthen other believers who are in a "waiting" place to hope in the Lord and trust utterly in Him. He is good to those who wait for Him. And they will not be ashamed. 
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Below are the links to other blog posts that I've written detailing our move here and how the Lord has worked His grace through our lives,  if anyone would like to read more about it--

Flying to A Summer Land
The Gift of Quietness
Grace in the Midwest Wilderness
When you Just Can't Do It
An Impossible Prayer Request
Midwest Ministry update




You might find me on these link-ups:


Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart Party


20 comments:

  1. I am so happy for you! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness. Saying a prayer over your home and ministry this morning.

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  2. Bekki, I never grow tired of your story, HIS story! I am over the moon ecstatic for all that the Lord has done in response to your obedience.

    Oh what encouragement you have provided through your own experience to wait, wait upon the Lord.

    I never thought about it in the way you articulated that the Lord knew about this ministry 100 years ago when He established the borders and footsteps of the people who lived there at that time. Borders that would one day be used for His Kingdom work!

    I am sooo excited to see ALL that the Lord is going to do through this ministry and I can't wait for the day that Michael and I can come and rest in the Lord at your family's/God's ministry retreat.

    I have been thinking about you constantly since Friday and smile every time I do so.

    I miss you sweet friend.

    Sending you much love Bekki.

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  3. What a wonderful testimony! Thank you for sharing it, and encouraging us to keep step with the Lord's timing. I will be praying for your ministry.

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  4. Well Rebekah, I find this really encouraging because my husband, children and I are were you were 16 years ago. After spending over 20years (my husband) and 13years(me), God lead us to move to an entirely strange country.
    We just got here and are trusting God, I am certain He will come through and trust that He will lead us through to the victories He has in store for us.
    Thanks for sharing this encouraging story.
    God bless you!

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  5. Oh my sweet friend, I can barely type this comment as there are tears flowing down my face....

    What a beautiful and precious story, dear one. To see the Lord work in such an awesome way is ever so touching and inspiring. Only the Lord, my friend, only the Lord.

    The Lord's timing is indeed perfect and your story is a testimony of that. Praise be to God for your faithfulness and desire to seek Him in all things.

    Please know that you and your family remain in my prayers as you continue on in this journey. Thinking of you and sending love and hugs your way!

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  6. What a precious testimony, Rebekah! PTL!

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is amazing when we see God's plan unfold and understand that he was at work even in the times of waiting when it didn't seem like it would come together. The example of the Israelites waiting until the cloud moved before setting out really spoke to me today about a situation of my own where I'm getting impatient to move on.

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  8. Such a beautiful story of God's plan coming to fruition. He always knows what is best and his timing is perfect. Being patient in the waiting and remaining close to God in prayer has allowed God to be faithful to you. Glad to be your neighbor at Messy Marriage today.

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  9. You were waiting on Him in both senses of the word. You were willing servers (wait-ers) and also people who wait for His timing. And He blessed you!

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  10. Saying "yes" to God -- such an important part of this following life, and it's something we have to do every single day.

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  11. Thank you, Rebekah, for sharing your story. I often think of "faithfulness" as an action I am called to, and I forget that it is first and foremost a characteristic of our God. He is faithful to His promises and to His people. Thank you for showing us how to be faithful to Him and for celebrating His faithfulness toward us.

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  12. Hi Rebekah,
    What a fascinating story! It's inspiring to see how God led you and provided for you and gave you more than you ever imagined, tailor-made for you. I enjoyed reading your story of persevering in prayer!

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  13. Encouraging for me today to read this. I've been praying a prayer now for years. He knows!

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  14. Rebekah,
    I am so glad you shared your story. It is so good to be reminded, God has a plan. We all get so impatient waiting for him to move that I am sure we miss the miracles he intended. You have a beautiful website.

    Maree

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  15. Great post. I so have lived the 'waiting for the cloud to move' life. It's been decades waiting to see God's calling fulfilled in and through me. It's exciting to be at the point too where the cloud is moving. Funny we're selling our home right now and it's been a long time coming too. We have a conditional offer and it was supposed to close last week, but still hasn't. My hubby and I were up in the night "thinking' about it, aka 'worrying'. Your post is a great reminder to trust God with the timing of everything. Even the sale of our home and the perfect 'next place'. May God pour out His blessings on your new place and bring great times of refreshing to your family and all those who will come and stay with you.
    Much love,
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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  16. I am so grateful that as we persevere in prayer, the Lord is faithful to work - in His way & in His time. May God bless you and your family in the days ahead!

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  17. I'd love to visit Wisconsin someday since that is where my mom grew up. :) Thanks for sharing your story of God's provision at Literacy Musing Mondays.

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  18. Very powerful story, a true one of course and these are the best kind. God's power and love is exciting and always merciful.

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  19. How beautiful that your faithful waiting is being rewarded with the right home in a peaceful setting where your ministry can be done.

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