Three months ago, when we started hearing words like “Wuhan”, and “animal market”, and a type of Corona that wasn’t beer, we had no idea how much it would impact us all and quite quickly turn life upside down. For us and every single person I’ve talked with, it has dramatically changed something about our lives. Whether it’s a big trip or visit that got cancelled, a small business we’re trying to keep afloat, or simply staying in our homes for the sake of the greater population, we all are touched by its effect.

For Jonathan and I, it meant a very quickly-made decision to come back to the states to weather the storm. Our country put out a 48-hour notice that they would be closing down the airport and there would be no way to get in or out of the country. We spent 12 of those hours not thinking much of it, but then after talking with trusted mentors, a lot of prayer and many tears, we bought tickets, tried to sleep, packed up our essentials, cleaned the house, and got on a plane, all within 18 hours. We’re thankful we had a little time before we drove to the airport where our friends could stop by to say goodbye. Those were some of the most painful goodbyes I think we’ve ever said. These are people we’ve run closely with for upwards of three years, or locals that have become like family to us, and there is no guarantee of seeing them again anywhere in the near future. We do have every hope and intention of returning to the Middle East this year, but at this point we anticipate it will be to wrap things up and sell our stuff in preparation for our move to Africa, rather than live there again. But again, there is so much in the air and no one can say when things will begin to open back up again. We don’t feel like we came home, we feel like we very suddenly left our home and are saddened, but peaceful with our decision. 

Beauty in the Midst

I want to share a quick story of something that encouraged our hearts greatly. There is a family that we’ve become extremely close with in the Middle East. The mother has given her life to the Lord, and just recently told her husband about her faith, which is a big deal. His response was a huge answer to prayer, he seemed to take it very peacefully and supportively. They also have a son who has been quite depressed as of recent, and has walked away from all faith whatsoever. Jonathan has been trying to pour into him for quite some time, but we have mostly been interceding for him, and praying that he receives a revelation of Jesus. They came over the day we left to say goodbye, and right when they got there, the son told Jonathan, “Jonathan, I had a dream of Jesus last night. I was praying and thinking about all of the hatred and craziness in the world right now, and wondering where God was in it all, and Jesus came to me in a dream and talked to me.” He was extremely excited and open to engaging in conversation about it. Needless to say, we were a mess after hearing that. It was incredibly comforting to our hearts to see the timing of the Lord in it all, the work will continue no matter where we are in the world. Please be praying for this young man, that his heart would continue to open to the Love of God and the Truth.

Few Thoughts

As I’ve been processing everything that’s happening, overcoming the fear that seems to be enshrouding the earth and finding the Lord in the midst of all this, I’m reminded of a few things. In Matthew 24, Jesus is telling his disciples about the end of the age and the tribulations that are to come, and Jesus describes these “birth pains”; famines, earthquakes, great troubles across the earth. The main thing He admonishes in it is “do not be afraid”. In no way am I trying to say “THIS IS IT!” (in regard to the end times) but, if we are to not be afraid in a time like that, how much more should we not be afraid now and be at peace. Whether this is a birth pain or not, it demands the same response from the Church, and it is a fantastic time to exercise that muscle of complete trust and complete dependency on Him, and walking in an opposite spirit to that of the world. We have been given the greatest gifts; the reasons for fear being replaced with promises so great that we can’t even fit our heads around them. We need not have fear of death, of famine, of sickness, or any of these things. Are not the sparrows known by name? Are not the lilies of the field clothed each morning? And yet they are not even the beloved Children of God. 

In a time like this, we’re faced with a lot of choices in response. “We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) We are the light of the world, and now is our time to shine and to live in such a way that the world actually wants what we have. The Holy Spirit is just as accessible as ever, and in fact I have a dream of homes being filled with the Glory of God as families stay together, love each other, and kick Satan’s butt by praying and worshipping together and seeking the face of God. This virus is the definition of “stealing, killing, and destroying”, and how beautiful would it be if we all found abundant life in the face of it. 

By: Susanna & Jonathan

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