Back up to August when we first decided to head to Eastern Europe for a “scoping it out” trip, we decided that the best time for Jed to take time off work would be in April. April became our aim.
Our local church here is a Vineyard Church, so we thought it would be cool to see if there were any Vineyard churches where we are heading. We googled it, and low and behold there are 5! We saw that there is a Vineyard church here in the US on the East Coast that has a partnership with those churches overseas to help shepherd them and send mission teams and such. Cool! We contacted a man named Vitaly, the church leader on the East Coast who is in charge of the partnership and found that he’s a native of the EE country and has lived in the States for 12 years. Jed and Vitaly have been playing phone tag and email tag off and on since September! Jed wanted to find out from him if any of the churches there are doing orphan care and if there’s any church in particular we should try to visit.
Well time passed and we were never able to really connect with Vitaly. So, we booked our tickets and decided to just find those churches on our own once we arrive. We knew of one particular city that looked like it had a thriving Vineyard church, so we planned to make that the last stop of our trip. Fingers crossed someone there speaks a bit of English, right? 🙂 We already had our appointments set with orphan care organizations, so it wasn’t imperative that we find the church, but it would be pretty cool.
This is where things get GOOD. On Thursday Jed gets a call from guess who? Vitaly! They talked for a while and totally connected. I love that about the Body of Christ. Strangers are instantly brothers when they share a common heart and passion. Vitaly shared his heart about the local church in EE taking ownership of the orphan issues. He shared that mission teams are great and do amazing work, but if the local church doesn’t buy in the work doesn’t continue. We totally agree! Jed and I are local church people all the way. We understand that we can bring our gifts and talents, but until it’s culturally relevant it’s only partially effective in making a long-lasting difference.
So, Vitaly asks what dates we will be in EE, and guess what?? He arrives there the exact same day as us! SHUT UP!!!! Yep, he’ll be visiting from the US because starting the last day we are in county they are having a nationwide Vineyard conference -get this- in the exact town where we planned to be for the end of our trip!
WAHOOOOOOOO!!! God amazes me. Apparently all the churches there have orphan care as their main outreach as well. Sweet.
I contacted our travel agent right away to find out if we could change our departure date so we’d be able to be at the conference. She said yes, there is availability, but it will cost about $640.00 to change our tickets. Ummmmm never mind. Jed says if God wants us there, He’ll let us know. What’s $640.00 to Him when He’s provided so faithfully for the rest of the expenses for this trip?
Then yesterday I get a text from a wonderful friend: “Change your tickets, I’m going to fund raise for the extra money, oh and if I can’t raise it all I’ll cover the rest myself”. Bingo! We have such a wonderful group of friends around us. God comes through once again. Seriously, how many signs and reminders do we need to show us that He is up to something big? Just when I was starting to panic “What are we doing? We don’t even know anyone in EE! I don’t speak Russian! We are really leaving our kids for over 2 weeks while we fly across the world to ‘check things out?’ We are nuts!” Just then, God kicks in with awesome acts of faithfulness.
He’s just plain good. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it.