"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

Post date: Jan 23, 2016 1:03:37 AM

Ecclesiastes 3:1

This verse may be overly used when quoted by those planning to make a major change in their lives, but it’s the first one that came to mind when Doug was approved this morning for the position of Director of Missionary Finance at Baptist Mid-Missions’ headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. After all, we have been in ministry here in Brazil for nearly 30 years. But let me back up a little…

You may recall that we have been encouraged over the last several years with the growth and progress of the churches in Brazil in relation to their vision for reaching their communities and those beyond the borders of the country. Churches in our area are self-sufficient and self-propagating, and though we are often asked for direction and help, they are able to do this on their own. There are also three other missionary families who continue to minister in the valley. It’s not that we don’t feel needed, but we do feel our presence is not necessary to the progression of the work in the São Francisco Valley. You may also recall that I (Renate) have had a burden to be closer in proximity to my parents recently. I spent a good part of 2015 with them and sense that they would benefit from my presence on a more consistent basis.

On December 11, 2015, Doug received a call from the President Select of BMM, Vern Rosenau, asking him to consider this position. To say we were taken by surprise is a bit of an understatement, but we accepted the challenge to consider and pray.

I would like to insert something here that Doug has often said when counseling others on ministry changes:

“I have always believed two things as it relates to God's specific leading in one’s life...

1) "Though there are exceptions, God usually leads toward a ministry and not away from a ministry." In this case, we feel God leading us to Cleveland, not necessarily away from Brazil. We would have been thrilled if God would have had us in Brazil for the duration. I would not have felt peace about this decision if in any way it were driven by discontentment here in Brazil. So even the sadness that we feel as we ponder our departure from direct ministry in Brazil is another confirmation of God’s hand in this leading.

2) "When God leads, He not only gives clarity to the one He is leading, He also gives clarity to those who will be most affected by the change," i.e., fellow workers in Brazil, close friends, and supporting churches. In general, I do not feel God leads in one's life while those close to him cannot also see that leading. In consulting close friends, family, supporting pastors and co-workers, each see how God is leading in our lives and stand behind us. Mind you, some have asked very tough questions and for that, we also are thankful to the Lord.”

I (Renate) have found it interesting that since we have sought counsel from several supporting church pastors, our home church pastor, family and colleagues on the field: both fellow missionaries and national leaders, the response has been in favor of our move to Cleveland. The Lord has also made it clear in other ways that this is His will for our lives because we already have someone interested in buying the house and car.

So, it’s clear that God is leading us toward a new ministry in Cleveland. I would like to close by asking you to pray for us as we finish up responsibilities here, start packing what we will take to the US and give away or sell what remains. We are sad to leave behind people and churches for whom we have great love. We are swamped by rain and the duties we have to fulfill before we leave. We are a bit overwhelmed by what remains to be done before our ministry here in Brazil comes to a close at the end of April and Doug assumes his responsibilities in Cleveland on May 2. We are, however, confident in the knowledge that this is His will for us.