In the last week, we’ve had several opportunities to share the back-story of how we went from living our business-as-usual daily lives to being (gulp!) only 4ish weeks away from hopping a plane to move to England. While I’ve given some general background in previous posts, most of the details aren’t widely known and it’s such an amazing story. So, I’m going to do my very best to condense it down to a reasonable length… a timeline of sorts. But since not everyone who reads this blog is familiar with the details of our everyday lives, some additional commentary may be necessary. And, let’s face it, I’m just a wordy writer.
If you just can’t hang in there for all of it, please at least jump to the paragraph about November 2010… it’s one of the coolest parts of the story!
Okay. Here we go…
November 2007: Trevor becomes the Youth Pastor at the Crossing Church in The Woodlands, TX, after being on staff as the Graphics Designer for over 3 years. The ministry of Ignite Youth Church develops, grows and prospers over the next two-and-a-half years.
May 2008: Brooklyn Promise Smith is born. We believe God tells us that my being at home is more important for us than a second income. We trim our budget to the bare bones and I leave my demanding corporate career.
July 2009: My parents buy some property in the country but aren’t ready to sell their house in Conroe, which is fully paid for. With Trevor being in ministry and me not working, they feel they are to offer it to us to live in (for cost: taxes, insurance & utilities) so that we can sell our house to have less financial strain and be more flexible to do whatever God might call us to. Our house sells in record time and within a few months we move to Conroe, mortgage-free.
November 2009: Trevor senses an overwhelming burden for England and begins working towards a senior high mission trip to England. Nothing pans out in the coming year. He puts it on the shelf as something that wasn’t meant to be.
June 2010: Trevor senses God tell Him in his prayer time that the next year will be a roller coaster ride for us but not to worry, because He will take care of us.
July 2010: Larry Harvey (Pastor Randy’s brother) comes to speak at our church. He speaks a specific prophetic word over Trevor that God is calling him to be a General in His army, among other great things God will do in and through him. Only Trevor and I know that Trevor has been reading a book entitled God’s Generals and that he has felt God nudging him to pray specifically that he could become like one of them. Larry using that specific word is no coincidence. About this time, attendance at Ignite Youth Church begins to drop drastically for no apparent reason. All efforts to boost interest and attendance seem fruitless. We go from 60+ to only 7 students over the next few months. In light of this, Trevor is unable to comprehend how he could ever be a General. He feels more like a new recruit struggling through basic training. However, we are thrilled to find out we are expecting our second child.
August 2010: Trevor and I begin earnestly seeking God to determine if we’ve gotten off track with regard to the ministry. In retrospect, we believe He used this situation to get our attention. We also find out that our pregnancy isn’t progressing as it should and begin a separate journey of faith as we go from week to week, hoping and praying for progress.
September 2010: As we are working through the heartbreak of a miscarriage, I suggest considering missions as a possible next step in ministry… maybe joining up with an organization like Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The idea of missions resonates in Trevor’s spirit and he can’t stop thinking about it, which in-and-of-itself is unusual since he’s a one-week-in-Mexico kind of missions guy. During Trevor’s intense daily prayer time, he receives a vision from God. A super-bright, white hallway lined with figures along each side. Each figure has a mantel across it. He sees that the first mantel says “China” and realizes that each mantel represents a place and each figure, a person sent to serve in that place. As he reaches the end of the hallway, he sees a mantel with no one holding it. As he gets closer, he reads the mantel: “England.” In that instant, the previous burden for England is re-awakened within him and he knows this is where God is calling us. He tells me, I pass out, then awake and agree. (Just kidding! I didn’t pass out… only just got a little woozy).
October 2010: The YWAM Houston leaders come do a presentation at our church and happen to include the story of how their family transitioned into missions. He was a youth pastor, they had young children, they sensed the call, sold everything and 20+ years later are still serving as full-time missionaries. We sat there feeling like we were hearing our future story and suddenly not feeling like we were losing our minds for thinking this could be God. This is one of our first major confirmations that we are headed in the right direction. Just after that, Pastor Randy goes to England to speak at a pastor’s conference. At the time, we consider this an interesting coincidence but see no direct connection to our situation. We still have told NO ONE of our call to missions or to England. In passing, my dad asks Trevor when Pastor Randy will be back and then makes the additional comment, “Who knows?! Maybe you’ll get to go to England someday!” It means nothing to him at the time, but it gives us chills! Separately, in our prayer times, we feel God confirm to us that we are to do this all the way – to “drop our nets” and follow Him. We know now that ultimately we will be selling everything to answer the call. We don’t know if we’ll be going in 6 months or 2 years, but we know we’re going.
November 2010: We make a trip to Tulsa, OK to visit our dear friends and spiritual mentors, Pastor Orlando and Kim Juarez. Our real reason for going, which we don’t reveal to them until we get there, is to seek their counsel about what we feel God calling us to. On our way, we make a secret stop to tour the YWAM base in Tyler, TX, as we still think this could be the path for us to make the transition into missions. During our visit with Pastor Orlando and Kim, they speak 3 things, which turn out to be completely prophetic: 1) A missions school may not be the path God has for you because you’ve been in ministry a long time and are already equipped to hit the ground running. 2) Don’t be surprised if God puts you on the fast track. Because of the times we are in, He will use those that are ready and willing. 3) Don’t be surprised if Pastor Randy already has something in mind for you as a result of his recent trip to England and his connection with David Flanders. While we leave feeling encouraged, we still can’t see how this is going to come together. Next on the list: more prayer and Trevor needs to tell Pastor Randy what is going on. Trevor is nervous… imagine telling your boss that you’re making a major career change but you don’t know when. No matter your industry, that can put you both in an awkward position. But Trevor prays that God would bring Pastor Randy over to his building (since he typically doesn’t come over there during the week) as a sign that it was time for Trevor to spill it. Two days later, it happens and Trevor knows it’s time. First he tells Pastor Randy that he isn’t sure of the timing – could be 6 months, could be 2 years – but our family is called to full-time missions. At that point, he sees the wheels beginning to turn in Pastor’s mind, as he expected. Then he adds, “…and we believe we are called to England.” At this point, Pastor Randy’s look of concern melts into a smirky-smile that stays in place as Trevor continues through his prepared speech. He mentions that we went to see Pastor Orlando for counsel, but doesn’t share any of the details regarding what was said. When Trevor finally reaches the end of his schpeel, the first words out of Pastor’s mouth are, “So, how soon do you want to go?” This response both shocks Trevor and worries him a little. What does that mean?! As Pastor Randy begins to explain, shock turns into utter amazement. It turns out that while Pastor was in England (remember, he knew NOTHING about what God is doing in us) spending time with David Flanders (a well known and highly respected pastor and evangelist who ministers throughout the UK and internationally), Pastor Randy noted some of the key needs of David’s ministry and actually said to him these words, “You know who you need here with you? You need Trevor.” You might think I’m exaggerating. I am not. Sure, Pastor meant a guy “like” Trevor, but the Spirit of God meant “the” actual Trevor! This time it was Trevor who nearly passed out! Within minutes of sharing this story, Pastor Randy was excitedly showing Trevor pictures of the area, telling him about the ministry and typing an email to David Flanders. Correspondence begins between us and David and we determine that we need to visit him in England to physically see the place we think God is sending our family and to simply pray for direction and peace. In faith, we purchase plane tickets for early January 2011.
December 2010: Only a small handful of folks (mostly our families and the pastoral staff at The Crossing) know our secret. Yet, with no explanation, we start receiving large financial gifts to our family. Many are anonymous. By the end of this month, our January trip is COMPLETELY paid for… the plane tickets, bus tickets, train tickets, hotel room and so on. God’s provision is going before us on this, which serves as further confirmation that we are still moving in the right direction.
January 2011: On January 10th, we board a plane from Houston to London. Nine and a half hours later, we land in London. We take a 1 hour bus ride, then a 2 hour train ride, then a 1 hour car ride. Finally, we arrive in Camelford, Cornwall, a tiny farming community of about 2,000 people. We don’t know why we are there other than that God has led us there. Over the course of the week, we go from complete culture shock wondering why on earth we are there to complete peace that this is where God is leading us (click HERE for a previous post with more on this). While there, we feel God confirm three things to us: 1) We are to move to England to serve David Flanders by using our talents and experience to meet some of his more practical ministry needs. 2) We are to join with him to evangelize the nation. 3) We are to start a School of Worship to train up a generation of worshipers and teach them how to usher in the presence of God through worship. While there, David confirms that they would love to have us come be a part of the ministry there (note: we are going as volunteer ministers, not as paid staff) and offers us a temporary home to help us get started and give us time to get a feel for our true cost of living before we have to commit to a rental agreement. The tiny one-room apartment over the church (started a year before by a mission team from Chi Alpha @ SHSU in Huntsville, TX) is almost finished. In the early stages of praying about going to England, our prayers were that God would provide us with at least a one-room apartment with a bathroom and kitchenette. This is EXACTLY what David has offered to us. Again, God’s provision is going before us.
February 2011: Our secret is made public and our journey officially begins. We begin the difficult but necessary task of sorting through all of our belongings so that we can sell them. God’s hand in moving us out of our house back in 2009 becomes clear… we don’t have the worry of trying to sell a house, just all the stuff inside! We launch www.UKforJesus.com and start doing all that we can to raise awareness of our mission to build a prayer and financial support base. Our needs are big, but God is bigger… WAY bigger.
April 2011: Three garage sales later, most of our belongings are gone. We’ve gone from two vehicles to one borrowed car, from a 50” flat screen T.V. to a 15” laptop screen and from a nice, big sectional sofa to three borrowed beanbag chairs. But these changes, and a zillion others, really haven’t fazed us. First, we are way more adaptable than we think and second, we are ready to be a part of what God is calling us to and our detachment from “stuff” is an important part of this process. Furthermore, through the proceeds of our sales and some unexpected financial gains (not related to any donations to our ministry efforts), our personal debt is completely gone, which is a huge relief. In a completely unexpected twist, our unknown Craigslist buyers for our juicer turn out to be the YWAM Houston leaders that made the presentation at our church back in October! We get to meet them and tell them about what God is calling us to and how God used them and their story early on to confirm His call and inspire us to keep moving forward. They share more encouragement and pray over us, and its just another way God pats us on the back and says, “Don’t worry. You’re still headed in the right direction and I’m taking care of you!”
May 2011: Here we are! Our house is nearly empty. Trevor’s last official day on staff and final opportunity to lead worship at The Crossing will be on the 22nd. Reality is setting in. It’s getting harder to keep our emotions at bay, but the sorrow is mixed equally with excitement and anticipation. God has brought us so far in such a short time… who knows what the coming months hold?! He does, and we wouldn’t miss it for anything. We covet your prayers as we still need some miraculous provision in the way of visas and finances, but our God is greater than any need. And because we are walking in complete obedience to Him, we know that He is ordering our steps and that whatever comes is part of His plan, whether it makes sense to us or not.
I know it’s a long story, but I hope that somehow, someway something in here has encouraged you to realize that God is able and willing to provide… wisdom, peace, hope, direction, provision… whatever it is you need. Simply submit fully to Him and His will, listen and obey, and watch the impossible become possible. To God be the glory! Amen.
Blessings and more to come soon…
- Connie, Trevor & Brooklyn