We are a family who dreams big and loves life. We can be pretty kicked-back and lazy–we love to read, take walks, and play “bat and ball” (Zachary’s rules for soft ball) in the backyard. We also love adventures, cities, travel, interacting with people, and new cultures…well, new anything.
Steve has pursued a career in education, and also enjoys construction. Christy enjoys being a mom, crafting and portrait photography. Zachary is four, full of energy and life and stories. Ian turned one this year and is a happy, flexible baby.
IN THE BEGINNING:
The dream really began at least ten years ago when Steve took a class on urban evangelism at Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute. Christy also had a heart for missions, and as a couple we often talked about someday moving to an inner-city mission. We lived in Texas at the time, but dreamed that maybe it could be in one of our favorite cities–Charleston.
It wasn’t a very realistic dream for it’s time and life went on as it does–one thing leading to another. We spent several years teaching in Texas, working for Choice Books and Steve also did some construction work. In 2007 Steve was asked to teach school in Abbeville, South Carolina. He committed himself to three years of teaching. At the end of the three years, he was ready for a change; but for more than six months we had only questions about what was next.
Toward the end of the last school year, Steve’s class took a missions trip to work at City of Refuge, an outreach to the homeless in Atlanta. While discussing the plan, Steve mentioned to the principal that he had dreamed for years of ministering at an urban mission. The other man challenged Steve, “Maybe if God has laid that ministry on your heart, and it is still there after all these years, He wants you to do something with it.”
We thoroughly enjoyed the work at the mission while on the field trip. We were amazed by the cleanliness and order. Everything was well thought-through and expertly executed. What impressed us most was the heart of the ministry and the love and passion we saw in the staff. We loved the motto we heard from them: Live among them, learn from them, minister with them.
We went home with changed hearts wishing more than ever that we could be there. We were also in a stage of uncertainty about our future.
One day Christy was sharing with another lady that we were so confused as to why we couldn’t find any sense of direction from God. Also, the decision felt so huge to us because obviously the place we chose to live would effect us, our mentality, and our children’s future. “You know, sometimes God gives us a very clear answer,” the lady told her. “Other times He will bless more than one way. You could choose this option, and God would bless it, or you could choose the other option and He would bless that, too.”
That same evening, Steve was reading a book and was so struck by the idea that God does not always lay out the whole plan for us to walk. He wants us to TRUST Him by taking the one step He is showing us. Sometimes He might later have us backtrack, but all He requires is that we follow Him one step at a time.
We were both feeling so much more freedom, and a peace that we would make a decision and be blessed.
Wouldn’t you know, that evening Lee called from City of Refuge, to let us know that they would have volunteer opportunities for us if we would come. We were both ready to jump in, and the fact that men we look up to affirmed the venture over the next few weeks gave us added confidence.
And so it began.
The work Steve would do at the mission would be completely volunteer-based–no reimbursement. We started out looking for economical housing, hopefully within the same area of Atlanta as the mission. Steve also needed to find a job that would allow him flexibility to take off early some days, and possibly take off for a few hours in the afternoons or even whole days. Because we felt convinced that God was leading us to move, we started packing before we had housing or a job lined up.
After a few [tiring] trips to Atlanta, we settled on a house that was a good bit pricier to rent than we had been hoping, but it was in a relatively safe area of town and only ten minutes from the mission.
The best job option for Steve seemed to be wallpaper hanging which he had done for years with his dad and would offer him schedule flexibility.
Basically, we have moved into Atlanta to be close enough to facilitate volunteering at the mission. Steve volunteers as often as is possible while still working enough to try to support us. This is a challenge with a higher cost of living here in the city. We are not supported by a church, so we are trusting God to provide our needs whether it’s by providing jobs for Steve or gifts from other people. Yes, that’s part of why we call this “Moving in Faith.”
Steve’s volunteering started out with going with a group Wednesday evening and again Sunday morning to serve a meal out on the streets for any of the homeless people who want to come out. Other opportunities are available. We are still finding our place.
We are surrounded by lots of needs, and in the process of finding where all God wants to use us.