The weather was clear Thursday as we stopped by churches in Dubuque, IA to visit with pastors. Friday morning we woke up to an ever-thickening blanket of snow. Now, I’m used to driving in snow, but I’ve also been around it long enough to know that risking breaking down or sliding off the road with a car full of kids on a 3-hour ride home is not a wise idea. Staying in town was looking like a good option.
Our decision to stay was further substantiated by a situation at home. We, like many missionaries who go on deputation, have taken up temporary residence with mom and dad. My father was taking advantage of our absence this week and doing some light remodeling in the upstairs bathroom. As a result, bathroom fixtures, including the cabinets and toilet, were sitting in the middle of the kids’ room. Staying in town was still looking like a good option. But with the church visits done, Friday generally being a day off for pastors, and the snow-covered roads of Dubuque (every last one of them hilly, I might add), what were we going to do?
I remembered seeing on the Bridge Christian Community’s website that they were going to be moving, painting, and cleaning Friday night and Saturday. I emailed the pastor and let him know what our situation was, and that we were willing to help. The pastor called shortly after and said he’d gladly take our help. That evening our family went with him to supper. We knew they were in the middle of a move, and didn’t feel like it was a good time to ask them to support our ministry. After dinner I went with him to their new place and helped with some of the cleaning. The next morning we returned to help unload a Uhaul for a few hours. We’d been praying for an opportunity to serve someone on this trip, and God gave us the opportunity.
Sunday we worshiped with the congregation. At the end of the service the pastor briefly described how we’d met that weekend and a little bit about our ministry in Congo. Then he did something that really encouraged us.
“I don’t think we’ve ever done this in the three years I’ve been here, but we’re going to take a love offering for the Fullers,” he said. We had no idea it was coming. We were hoping maybe that the congregation would be a prayer partner church, but didn’t expect them to give financially.
In our pre-field training with MAF, two-way relationships are stressed. These partners are supporting our ministry, and we also have opportunities to minister to them. Honestly, it’s been something I’ve struggled with throughout deputation. Sure, it sounds good, and I know it’s right…but what does it look like? I’ve been praying that God would show me, and this was one of those ways. I share this story not to point a big finger of approval at myself, but to show yet another way God is at work in ways I didn’t see coming. He is amazing!