This is an email update that Ruth and I thought we would never have to write and it’s also the hardest email update that we’ve ever had to do.
I’ve wanted to be a missionary for the last 10 years, Ruth, the last 14. For Ruth and I our entire marriage has been pursuing missions. And now we are very sad to say that chapter in our life is coming to a close. Let us explain what’s happened.
Over the years, 2 years of Bible school, 2 years of missions training, 1 year of raising financial support, though it all we have always been certain without a doubt that God was leading us overseas to help build His church. When we first arrived here in Indonesia a little over 3 years ago are dreams of being missionaries, all the hard work, had finally come true. Our first 8 months had some challenges but over all it was very exciting and full of joy for us. It was after that time we found at that Ruth’s sister Joanna had terminal cancer. It was during these next few months on the field that I saw first hand how close and precious Ruth’s family is to her. It was then that we knew we had to go home and visit with Ruth’s sister and family during this time. After our time of sweet fellowship with so many of you, our dear friends and family, that we knew it was time to come back to the field of Indonesia. We eagerly jumped right back into language and built many cherished relationships that we still have today. As the Taliabo people were still heavy on our hearts we knew it was time to say goodbye again and move to the region of Indonesia were the Taliabo live in order to finish our language study. After arriving in our next location many of you remember the many hardships we experienced there. Things such as; kids starring in our widows, people stealing from us, constantly being sick, just to name a few. It was during this time that Ruth, being a mother of 3, pregnant, and living in a very stressful situation had a breakdown and thought it was time for us to come home. I on the other hand was still convinced that this is where the Lord had us. Ruth and I decided together that for the sake of our marriage and future ministry that God was going to have to change one of our hearts and we were determined to seek advice, be reading the scriptures, prayer, and seeking the Spirit over the next few months. Going through that time we realized that the Taliabo work was no longer in our immediate future. It was during that time that leadership wanted to help us in any way to continue with our ministry here. It was recommended that we move closer to the national training center to be closer to other westerners and to prepare for a teaching position at the school. Needing to leave our old situation quickly we moved into the NTM guest house for 3 weeks while our new house was being worked on. Through all of this Ruth was still having a hard time juggling relationships, communicating in another language/culture, being a mom of 3, a wife, 9 months pregnant, and dealing with the stresses of having a baby overseas. We know many of you were praying for us at this time and we really, really appreciated it. Praise the Lord during this time Ruth’s sister Leah arrived for her 3 month visit. We had just moved into our new house, still no running water, open well, constant construction, daily power outages, and no real furniture to speak of. After a very, very hard labor little Isaiah Michael was born. Soon after we noticed Ruth was having an even harder time copping with the day to day. It then came to light that Ruth was dealing with postpartum depression. Leah was a real God send, in that we don’t know how we would have done it without her. Through all this Ruth and I were continue to read God’s Word, pray, and seek and heed advice from leadership, family and friends. But it’s been over the past few months that I’ve been surprised to notice that God had began a change in my heart. God was beginning to show me that at this time in our lives living overseas is too overwhelming for our family.
One of my favorite life verses is 1 Timothy 3:1-5
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.”
I’ve been seeing a lot of these characteristics/qualifications slipping away from our family. It’s because of this that we know God is calling us home. God has always been faithful to guide and direct in our lives and we feel a peace and are confident in this decision. We are sad to say goodbye to Indonesia but we know that without a strong, healthy family it is impossible to have a strong healthy ministry. Our home churches and NTM leadership are all in support of our decision.
Our leadership has advised/recommended that we take some time to decompress, get through reverse culture shock and otherwise take a to rebuild our family, i.e. sabbatical, before I pursue full time work. It is because of this (and in line with NTM) that we ask you to continue to financially support us through the end of the year as NTM missionaries in transition. Our first 2 1/2 months we’re planning on being in CA and then driving across country to NH. It’ll be during those next 3 months that we’ll be adjusting and I’ll be looking for new work.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please continue to be praying for our family during this time. In many ways following the Lord home is a bigger step of faith then it was coming to Indonesia. When we came here we knew what to expect, but with coming home there are so many unknowns its a bit scary. Please fill free to email or skype us over these next 3 weeks as sell and pack up our things. We look forward to being able to see many of you face to face soon.
God is good all the time,
Ben & Ruth
Chloe, Gwen, Addie, & Isaiah