Our 2+ years of life in Indonesia (and 3 years with MAF) have been an incredible time for our family. We have rubbed shoulders with people from all walks of life, learned a new language, seen some of the most remote jungle landscapes still untouched by humanity, and experienced a host of new foods and adventures.  We have built and enjoyed precious relationships with Indonesian friends as well as MAF colleagues who have been more like family than friends. Every place we’ve been, we have purposed to love people with Christ’s love and re-present the gospel of peace.

When we began our journey with MAF, our intention was to make a long-term career serving overseas as long as the Lord would allow. We have invested a lot to get to this point. Others have also invested a lot and, in every step, we’ve felt God’s guidance, provision, and blessing. Once we finished language school and arrived to the program in Tarakan we experienced the fulfillment of all our hard work. And the work of MAF was everything we could have hoped for. I, Phil, had to pinch myself most days because I couldn’t believe I was getting to live my dreams and be a part of the Great Commission in this capacity.

However, the journey came with a high cost. Honestly, we felt we had counted the cost and were ready to spend our lives in this way. In the last two years, we’ve walked through several of the hardest things we never could have imagined or expected: a serious (and very scary) lung infection for Jeremiah in language school, intense and severe battles with intestinal worms for our kids, a devastating miscarriage followed by a two very scary medical procedures for Jess and a trip to Singapore, and a handful of other very challenging things for our family.  This past six months, however, was an absolute deluge of traumas which we will not delineate here.  The most traumatic of which was the seizure our son Jeremiah experienced.  In addition to this, the daily stresses of life overseas began to take a hard toll on our family and after prayer, counsel, and professional marriage and family therapy, we’ve decided, for the health and well being of our family, to return to the US. We are united as a family and there are not any issues regarding sin, but we are dealing with an extended period of stress and trauma that is negatively affecting our health.  With heavy but hopeful hearts we are closing this chapter of service overseas with MAF.  We are moving home to the US to pursue whatever the Lord has next for our family.  Our heart still beats with passion for the cause of Christ and that will never change; it’s who we are.

I remember back in Seminary I took a class called, “The Pastor as a Person” in which we examined how often in ministry we are so focused on the spiritual aspects of life, that we often neglect the human side of ourselves: our mental, physical, and emotional health.  In the case of our coming home to America to heal and recover, we are realistically and in humility acknowledging our limits as persons and choosing to put our family as our first ministry.  We trust God to continue the good work He is doing in and through MAF and we will forever champion that cause.  It is forever a part of us and we will continue to love and cheer for the ministry of MAF and our friends who continue to serve Him there.

We know that you have been standing with us since the beginning and we would appreciate your ongoing prayers for our family. We are confident God will meet us in this vulnerable place and buoy our hearts in this difficult time. Thank you for your understanding and love for our family.  And thank you each and all for being a part of one of the most precious seasons in our ministry career.  As always, we love you.


7 thoughts on “Changes

  1. Tough decision no matter how you cut it. I affirm you in the choice you have made. True, you will still have a season of resettling that could be very unsettling. In 20 years (or less 🤔) it may make sense, but today you can have peace in knowing you are loved and can continue serving God wherever you are.

  2. There is a retreat here in Colorado for those in ministry. Free no matter where you are! It’s Shiloh Ranch (Craig and Lisa Gilbert). Good to know about maybe now or later. You guys are awesome examples. Thank you!

  3. I have and will continue to pray for you and your family. You are precious and God is faithful to lead you in whatever you do. I love what Roger said and agree with him. Blessings from God for healing of your bodies and hearts. Trust in Him alone for His words are true and trustworthy. Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus so you can love as He loves. Thankful for you and your desire to serve Him. God bless you and your family.

  4. Putting family first is honorable and Godly. I know you will serve wherever he leads you. We will pray for God’s clear direction in your life. Love and take care of your children. They are the most precious commodity we have here on earth.

  5. We love you so much… We have prayed through your journey and will continue to pray for your family. We never retire out of the cause for Christ. We just do it in different places then we thought we would (((hugs))) and prayers

  6. I completely understand your decision. I went through a similar situation YEARS ago when I felt God leading me to quit teaching at a private Christian school. I had taught for 9 years and loved it – I was confused as to why God would want me to leave. Two months after I gave my notice, God showed me why I had to leave and it was for family/kiddo reasons. At that time there was only one person who encouraged me – others didn’t think I had heard from the Lord at all. So, this is your encouragement!!! Keep God first and He will always lead you down the best path.

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