Today's Leaders 4 Life update is brought to you by "mama Lisa" as she is called in Africa.
So Chris began applying for pastoral jobs mid-November 2011. We prayed God would open doors for us and we wanted a church that was missions-minded and would be a place where we could still do our mission work in Sierra Leone, even if it looked different than what we imagined it to be. Surprisingly, not many responded to Chris’ resumes.
By March, I was discouraged and frustrated at nothing opening up or silence. I vented to a friend that day, March 19th (thanks, Stephanie!) and on my drive home from work had an out loud talk with the Lord. There were no tears or shouting, just an honest conversation with Him. It went something like this, “Okay, God, I am pretty frustrated with no doors opening. No answers. Silence. I need You to show up and do something! I need to hear from You! I can’t keep going on like this…” Pretty pathetic, I know. The night was pretty normal – come home from work, eat dinner, hang out with kids, baths, bedtime – but Sara was sick that day so she had napped on her first day of Spring Break and thus stayed up later than usual. Earlier in the evening, I had asked Chris if he had looked at Fuller’s website on their job board since he graduated with his MDiv from there. He checked it out, but we got distracted throughout the evening and he left the tabs opened, but forgot about it…until it was about 10:30pm and Sara was finally asleep and we were headed to bed. One of the tabs was a job Chris wasn’t interested in. The second tab was intriguing to us – Saddleback Church was doing a major church-planting effort in 12 cities worldwide, including Freetown. We couldn’t believe our eyes! There had to be another Freetown, not THE capital of Sierra Leone!? Sure enough, it was and this gave us a renewed sense of hope and energy. Thank you, God, for answering me as I cried out to You on this day! I went to work the next day and apologized to my friend for my rant and shared with her what had happened on my drive home and this new opportunity!
Right away God gave me a verse to put my trust in and know He was a part of this: Ephesians 3:20 in the NIV says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” I remembered this and told Chris about it and knew God is in this journey with us.
Fast forward to June 23, 2012 – last full day of our time at Saddleback for the Church Planters Assessment and training at their Rancho Capistrano campus. We go in to have our exit interview with two men – one who will hire for the 12 cities and a guy named Steve who was an outside consultant that week. Steve asked if he could close our time in prayer and wouldn’t you know it, he used that Scripture – Ephesians 3:20 – in his prayer! We saw my younger sister and her daughter that afternoon and then were dropped off at the Saturday evening service to attend with the other candidates at 5pm. And wouldn’t you know it, the pastor used Ephesians 3:20 at the beginning of service. Both times this day Chris and I just looked at each other and smiled that knowing look, like, “okay, God, we hear ya!”
We came back to Phoenix and a few days after we return, Chris sends a short email to pray along with us as Saddleback decides. The next morning, Chris comes in from running and hands me his phone and my heart jumps because I think it’s an answer from Saddleback and I don’t want to see it and he’s like, “c’mon just read it!” and smiles big! I should have known – a new friend and prayer partner signs her emails with Ephesians 3:20 (Thanks, Deb!).
One of our friends, Julie, wants to see me before she leaves on a trip in case we move before she’s back (gotta love her optimism!) and so we meet at Starbucks on Saturday morning, June 30th. I begin to share the story with the verse God gave me back in March and she stops me and says, “Lisa, I prayed for God to give me a verse to memorize for today and it’s Ephesians 3:20. I think that is meant for you!” (Thanks, Julie! Hope I quoted you correctly)
Then my sweet friend, Shannon, from work returned from vacation and I got to catch her up to speed with all the Ephesians 3:20 confirmations and she said she thought of me when she was away because the family she stayed with had that verse on their fridge! (Thanks, Shannon! And glad God continues to give that verse to you, too J)
And last, but definitely not least, I was reading “Kisses from Katie” (thanks to my lovely friend, Laurel) and on page 148 in her book she mentions Ephesians 3:20 and I literally put the book on Chris’ forehead and laughed and he knows that the verse is there, too! (Thanks, Katie Davis – and most importantly thank You God!)
We know that God is in this with us, has our backs, and cares for us, our calling and our dream to go to Sierra Leone. No matter the answer from Saddleback, we are sure that “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20 from The Message. (Thanks, Eugene Peterson!)
And, “thanks” to all of you for praying for us, encouraging us, and journeying with us as we prepare to go to Sierra Leone and begin the work God has called us to! With love and many, many thanks! Lisa for the Chandler clan