Excerpt from the Pulpit Commentary
by the Very Reverend Henry Donald Maurice Spence
Better be numbered among the simple-hearted who can appreciate the Divine than among the wise and learned who misread the providence of God, and stand sullen and silent while everything is inviting to joy and praise. Better be the ignorant cottager whose heart is full of reverence, or the little child who has the songs of Zion on his lips and the love of Jesus in his heart, than the learned critic who never bends the knee or bows the heart in homage to the true and the eternal.
(Oops. Just realized that I had not given H.D.M. Spence credit on the online illustration.)
Andy & Jaycie Johnson & Family are seeking the Lord’s will concerning a possible return to missionary service with TEAM with the Black Forest Academy in Germany. They will share during our Sunday School and Morning Worship services.
Dear Faith Fellowship Church of Tennessee, Illinois,
Somehow I forgot to include in our bulletin our guest missionary speakers for this coming Sunday – March 18, 2018 in our Sunday School and Morning Worship services. The missions committee had put in a recommendation for the board, and the board passed this when we met on March 8. I didn’t want to put it in the bulletin until it was “official.” But then I forgot to put it in. And, forgot to announce it. I’ll blame in on vacation hangover.
Anyway, I have included the Johnson’s email below to bring you up to date. I have sent this around before, so if it looks familiar, that is the reason.
If they accept this call, they will once again be serving with TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission— https://team.org/). Our prayers and thoughtful interest will help this family as they seek God’s will for service to him. We will want to learn as much as we can during this time with them on Sunday to help us as we pray with them concerning this next possible huge step for their family.
On April 10 the missions committee will likely decide whether or not we will take them on as full-time missionaries. Please pray for God’s direction on that decision.
It’s been a bit since we’ve emailed. There were many times we wanted to write and show you pictures and tell you stories of what the Lord’s been doing in our lives, but we hesitated because we are no longer “on the field” so we weren’t always sure how much you wanted to hear.
To catch you up, we’re going to have to give you a bit of history first. Most of you don’t know, but in Italy, back in 2014, we started feeling a “change” of sorts or a closure coming in our hearts. Having NO idea what that was or what it would lead to, we just continued to live and work, trusting that He would reveal His plan when He was ready. As you know, we had to suddenly come back to the States because of a medical condition that our oldest daughter Bella had. Closure. Not the type that we thought, but closure none the less.
Before we came back though, we had been actively searching for where God wanted us, IF in fact He did want us somewhere else. We took a trip up to Germany to visit a place called Black Forest Academy (http://bfacademy.com/). It’s in the southwest corner, near France and Switzerland. They had a need for dorm parents at the time, so we went there to check out the school, talk to the staff and find out if its where God wanted us. We loved it there, and felt very much like it was a place we could be used, but in that time, the Lord closed the door, as all of the dorm parents decided to return another year. Right after that, was when we came back anyway due to Bella’s surprise condition. It wasn’t the Lord’s time.
Now, having been back for 2 years, we have firmly planted here again. We have a church body that we adore and they have been so wonderfully supportive of us. The girls are doing amazingly in school!! We had Francesca, our Italian friend from Italy, who was with us for 10 weeks. And this school year we have had these 2 other solid members of the family, our exchange students Elli and Chiara, who have been with us since July. We have been trying to live as “mission-minded” as we can, right where we are, knowing that God isn’t done with us yet.
In September, we received an email from BFA, stating that they have an urgent need for this coming school year (2018) for dorm parents. BFA is a Christian boarding school that parents, both Christians and non-Christians alike from all over the world send their children to. Some are missionary families, some are military families, some refugees and others, businessmen. We would in fact, be their “parents” there at the school, overseeing and living with anywhere from 18-24 students.
At first, we completely laughed at the email and right away, wrote back and said no, this isn’t the time. But 2 months later, another email arrived, asking us to spend some time praying about it please. And then a week later, long time friend asked us about serving at BFA , and then someone else did…..with enough frequency that we had to start wondering if we should really be praying about this. So we did. For weeks. By December, we both realized that we were stuck. We were completely okay with heading to Germany AND okay with staying here. Our hearts were totally fine with either option. It was an odd place to be, in fact. We shared with a few close people and asked them to pray for God’s leading and wisdom in this. We were completely open to whatever the Lord wants of our family, but not really sure which direction that is……So, after much prayer, we took this to our Pastor, and then Elders, Missions board, and Finance chair, hoping for some guidance and direction. We both prayed fervently, and ultimately left the decision in the hands of our church leaders. They themselves took a month to discuss, pray, seek and ask and they came back to us a few weeks ago with unanimous and excited “green lights” from everyone!
As you can imagine, we are both excited and completely scattered, but the last hurdle that we had been praying about was our girls. How very strong and yet fragile they are. We want them to have a life full of obedience and yet they are still kids, so sometimes obedience is hardest on them. We told Bella first about this possibility, as she is the oldest, and she immediately started crying. But they were happy tears!!!!! We were totally shocked by that!! She said she was ready to go back to the field. And then we told Gwynnie. She was the one we were worried most about, as she tends to root fast and deep. She too, was excited and completely on board with the idea. Not at all what we expected!!!!
So, with every single test or fleece or whatever you want to call it, laid out before the Lord, with the counsel of those we trust and our Pastors and Elders, all coming to the same decision, we are happy, a bit scared, and overwhelmed to announce that we are headed back to “the field”… the overseas field, that is, in Germany!
Obviously, there is a much shorter time frame in which we need our support raised this time and it’s something we have not once overlooked. We need to be able to be in Germany by August 1 to begin training. It’s a big thing. But we have no choice but to step out, when the Lord has confirmed to us repeatedly over and over, that this is the next place He wants to use us.
This time doesn’t feel as scary though. The girls school (except Lucy’s) will be in English, so there is no immediate and pressing need to learn German. Our work will be in English, as kids are required to have a passing knowledge to get into the school. And we don’t need to move our furniture and whole house, as we will be moving into a dorm that is already set up and established, with a separate apartment for our family. It’s also for a finite amount of time, as German law only allows us to stay between 3-5 years.
We know this email is long, but there was too much to explain and we wanted you to understand the path that brought us here. I’m sure there are a million other questions that you may have and we will do our best to answer them in the coming months. But now we are just asking this of you……will you please spend some time in prayer about this? It’s a big thing in a short amount of time. That leaves only 6 months to raise ALL financial support and do everything that needs to be done. It seems impossible, but our God does the impossible all the time, so we have to trust in Him. We will still be with TEAM, as we have just been in an “inactive” status since January 2017. And Bella has been medically cleared, so that is no longer an issue either.
The next 6 months of road will be tough and seemingly impossible, but we look forward to continuing this process now with all of you, each step taken. Our arrival this August in Germany would not be the end to celebrate, but just a moment for us to pause and give our Savior the praise and honor that would only be devoted to Him for such a feat!
Andy, Jaycie, Bella, Gwynnie, & Lucy (and currently Chiara and Elli, too)
If you feel the Lord leading you to partner with us, we would be honored to have you as part of our support family. Please let us know!