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“Faith is spelled R-I-S-K”

At the end of 2017, REACH Team Eurasia* left the U.S. not knowing if they would ever be able to enter their outreach country. Due to some unfavorable policy changes within their final destination, their plans were in flux throughout much of Discipleship Training School, and obtaining the right visas seemed like a long shot. After abundant prayer and consideration, they took a leap of faith and flew to a neighboring country – hoping to eventually land in the culture they had prepared their hearts and minds for. Here are some reflections on their journey:
SHARON: The most prominent feeling that I remember before we left the RIC was feeling like I was going to throw up. I remember that Suz [RIC Food Services Manager] had made a really delicious hearty soup and homemade bread for lunch. I had to choke most of it down without tasting it because I was so nervous. But why was I so anxious? I knew everything was going to be okay. And I was, in fact, excited to leave. We had been preparing for three months for this and the moment of our departure was finally here! But I also realized that life was about to change. While I knew where we were going to end up, the in between, the middle of here and there, was all murky and that made me rather uneasy.

Before we all piled into the van and headed to the airport, we had a time of prayer and goodbyes. As we circled up and began asking the Father for protection, blessings, and discernment most of my anxiousness seemed to melt away. I was reminded that I was his child. That while I may not be able to clearly see the plans, he certainly had them. He reminded me of how he had been so faithful to me in the past, so why would now be any different? And I left wishing I had enjoyed my last taste of Suz’s cooking more.

SUSAN: Trust is such a funny thing. So often we talk about it like it is an abstract idea. But it is a verb, and a verb is a hard thing to talk about when you are in the middle of acting it out. If you think about it in the middle of it, you will go crazy. Think about stairs. Have you ever thought about what muscles you’re using as you are going up or down the stairs? What are you actually doing? I’ll put my toes here, make my calf muscle do this, make my knee bend here. If you have ever done this, you have also probably tripped on the stairs. The same thing applies to faith. If we stop what we are doing and think about it too much, overanalyze, we get tripped up. If you think too much about how you are going to trust in God, thirty flights later you will realize you missed the point. It is easy to trust and have faith when you are sitting on a couch in your living room, but it is quite a different beast when put it to the test. Or as Bobby says, if you are sitting on a couch you cannot trip on the stairs. But you also cannot follow if God is calling you to move.

ANDY: Imagine you are responsible for the lives of four people, yourself included, who have parents and friends that love them dearly. Now put those four on a plane and tell them you don’t know where they are going or what they will be doing, nor how they will do it. Don’t worry, RMM did not just put us on a flight and say, “See yah! Have a good time!” and then leave us to figure everything out on our own like blind pigeons in a room full of deadly laser beams. There was much prayer and planning on their part, and a lot of figuring things out on their end too. And for that I am very thankful.

I now know how Frodo felt from The Lord of The Rings when he said “I will take the ring though I don’t know the way,” and [I experienced] a sliver of what it would have felt like for Frodo to bear the burden of the ring not knowing what would be before him. It’s easier to see the enemy at work when the unknown is before you and certainty is nowhere in sight. But when you look back, the Father’s work is so evident, and you realize how insignificant the enemy really was.

BOBBY: I wasn’t really worried about it for some reason. Why stress about something you can’t change? I have to chuckle now when I think of the guy I sat next to on the plane. Of all the people on our team to sit next to a talkative person, why me? We talked about everything. Well, he talked and I listened.

The Visas:

After being in our temporary location for a week, we went to our first of two consulate visits. After that first visit, where we handed over all of our documents and information, we were told to come back in one week. We felt fairly hopeful after that first visit because the man that we had our interview with was really nice and excited to hear that we were interested in his home country’s culture, language, and history. We booked our flight for the next week, the day after our second consulate visit date without knowing whether or not we would leave that visit with visas in hand. But as something we learned in DTS would remind us, “faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” I think for us it was more likely spelled A-N-G-S-T.

Our feelings once we landed:

BOBBY: I was a little sad to leave our temporary location, but I was excited to finally get to our final location. I remember walking around the first night and it was super noisy and crowded. I didn’t know if I would ever get used to it.

ANDY: Bittersweet. It felt really good to finally be somewhere for good. But, I definitely went through a bit of culture shock. It was overwhelming. We were thrown into a tram full of people to the point where we were almost crushed with our luggage. The amount of people and noise ın the cıty was overwhelming. I knew that a lot of adjusting would have to happen.

SUSAN: I don’t know what I thought. Wow. We are here. We made it. But we still had to go through border control. Then we made it through there without a single question asked and barely a glance. Then I had to readjust my thinking because we were so unsure for so long. For so long our goal was just to get in, so I had to make the switch to actually being here.

SHARON: I felt super relieved! This was the moment that we had been praying about for so long, and it had finally come around. I was very grateful and excited to finally be here. But things had changed around so much that I really had no expectations for what it would be like once we finally got here. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really like it much. It was loud and crowded, and didn’t smell very good. Plus, it seems like the only trees here are in the cemeteries. Once I got over the initial bit of culture shock, I have enjoyed my time here. I really enjoy how the culture is centered on relationships and how kind and helpful people are.

“I wouldn’t recommend leaving the country without having a detailed plan of how you will be getting to your destination. But if you do, we have tested the waters, and found God to be completely trustworthy.”Concluding thoughts:

SHARON: It’s been really cool to see how God has faithfully revealed every step as it came. How he took all the murkiness that I could not see through and turned it into something that we can praise him for. It is awesome how nothing can get in his way – not even two governments at odds with each other.

ANDY: I wouldn’t recommend leaving the country without having a detailed plan of how you will be getting to your destination. But if you do, we have tested the waters, and found God to be completely trustworthy. I learned a lot about faith and trust. Take time to enjoy the moment whether you are in a place you want to be in or not. Just know that God is taking you somewhere that you are meant to be. You might just find that you like where that place will be.

SUSAN: God is faithful and he loves to give good gifts to his children. He absolutely loves it. He’s generous and gives us room to have doubts. One of the things that I want to always remember from this experience is that even in the middle of uncertainty, our God is certain.

BOBBY: God works in ways that we do not understand when we are in the moment, but ultimately it all works out for his glory. I am still not completely sure why our travels were so complicated, but I am glad that God took us on this journey.

Praise God for his faithfulness and protection for this team. Pray that they will continue to follow God and that those around them would be attracted to the trustworthy God they serve.

*Names changed for security