Friday, November 14, 2008

Man makes his plans but God directs his steps...

Dear blogging friends,

I've got butterflies as I publish this post tonight. We have some shocking news for you today…maybe not so shocking to the ones who have been asking God for clear direction for us. God has answered our prayers about what we are to do very clearly and very directly. We have been given an answer and there is no doubt about what we are supposed to be doing. I pray that as you read the next few paragraphs you hear our heart and most of all recognize that God has the full perspective.

We sent out a newsletter about 2 weeks ago regarding our current financial situation and to this moment the situation has not changed. There wasn’t much of a response to our newsletter and I was really surprised. No real communications regarding the situation was received nor were any donations made. We began to really seek God even more so.

A dear friend of ours, Micheal, was on the phone with John and it went like this:

Micheal: “So John…if you had the money what would you do?”
John: “Go down south as planned…”
Micheal: “So you wouldn’t do anything else?”
John: “No…the plan is to go down south to Narathiwat”
Micheal: “Ok…so is it possible that God could be not providing the money
because he knows that you are set on doing that and only that?”
John: “Hmmm…yeah, that’s possible…”

The following day John was riding home from Thai class and was praying about what to do and what action to take. His Thai teacher had encouraged him to remember and utilize all contacts that he has made in the past and he remembered that there was a guy from a church that we knew of that said if we ever needed anything big to contact him and he’d do what he could. We don’t have a direct way to contact him so John thought to himself…as soon as I get home I’ll message his daughter so I can get in touch with him.

As John was thinking about what he would say to the man about seeing if he could help us get moved and get a car, John thought “but if he gives us money…when we go back to America then we won’t be buying a car so we’d need to send the money back…” He was shocked that he even thought that. Going back to America has not been an option or a thought in the 4 years that we’ve been missionaries in Thailand. And yet this thought came to him as if it were natural and normal.

So he started really praying and putting everything before God… John said to God that he knew that he could choose to go anywhere and God would use him there…we could stay and work in Chiang Mai, or we could go work with in villages up north or we could go to a different country and God would use us there…my husband then prayed "but I don’t want that…I want what you want for me right now"

We want God’s will above our own and while our hearts are here in Thailand…our hearts are ultimately with God. God then reminded John of many things and then, as clear as day God directly told him that he was supposed to return to America and that it was time to work with his father…Curry Blake.

So yes, we are returning to America. We are not returning to America because we don’t have enough money. If we were supposed to move to Narathiwat or remain here in Chiang Mai then the finances would allow us to do so…but as of now we don’t even have enough financial support to sustain us month to month. Over the past 4 years we have seen God provide in miraculous ways and this time is no different that any other…God is completely able to provide but he closed that door. Man makes his plans but God directs his steps.

I know some of you have heard us talk before we returned to Thailand this time about our heart for Thai Muslims and that we knew we were supposed to return to Thailand and I believe we were. Our hearts are still the same toward the Thai Muslims and Thailand but ultimately our hearts are for God.

While some might not quite understand…we were supposed to return. These past 4 months have been like boot camp spiritually. It has been as if we have been in the blue flame of God’s refining fire. We know we have been being prepared for what is coming. We have had time to learn and glean off of our teammates…go through some really rough times…teaching us some lessons that can only be learned through the experiences we have had. We have also had significant breakthroughs in Thai language.

You ask…why is a breakthrough in Thai language significant if you are returning to America? It is significant because we believe and hope that one day we will return to Thailand. We have had major breakthroughs in our Thai language abilities and many breakthroughs in relating to Thai people and understanding culture that we didn’t even know we needed.

We believe we have had these experiences so that we are not leaving Thailand feeling like we aren’t able to make it here successfully but instead that God would send us off with feelings of victory so that our hearts would be prepared to return again someday…maybe in a few years…but that is up to God.

We have shared what God has shown us with our team and some other senior missionaries that we just happened to be able to spend time with when this happened and they prayed with us and agreed that this is indeed God…whether any of us like the idea of us leaving Thailand or not…it is what we are to do.

He knows we are willing vessels and even at this moment if He were to say stay…we would. But He has spoken clearly and we are confident and joyful about what God has planned and how he plans on using us. John is very excited about being able to work with his father.

About a month ago John and I were sitting down talking about the future as we do sometimes…thinking about 5-10 years ahead…where God could have us…ect. We were talking about if God sent us back to America and I asked John “What would you do in America John? There are no villages in America…” I said challengingly. He answered me quickly and confidently “I’d work with Native American Indians.”

I was shocked by his answer and said “What!?!”. He has never mentioned Native American Indians before. The next day while on Skype with John’s mother she told us about Curry’s most recent trip and about a prophecy that was spoken over him and in that prophecy it was said that Curry is going to do a great work among the Native American Indians amongst many other awesome words! My jaw hit the floor...I pointed my finger at John…like…did you already know that and he threw up his hands saying he had no clue! We both kept our mouths closed and gave it to God and assumed it was for the far in the future.

Over the past week we have been calling people to tell them this news the best we can with the time differences and we got an awesome confirmation after telling John’s sister about the news. She works for Curry also…she sends out all of his partner letters and she had just put the most recent partner letter in the mail the day before. She went on to tell us that toward the end of the letter Curry stated that he knew from the Lord that it was time for his son to come and travel with him and he asked his partners to pray with him that John would hear directly from the Lord regarding the matter.

John G. Lake Ministries is going to be moving to Denver, Colorado in February 2009 and we will also be moving there. We will be staying in Thailand until the end of December 2008. At the first of December we will move down to Hat Yai with the Pruetts to help in any way we can with their transition and stay in the church there…tying up any loose ends…until we leave at the end of December.

I know this hit some of you over the head like a huge brick…and we pray that you will love us through this time and continue to pray for us. We will not be returning back to Texas permanently as I always thought we would if we ever returned at all…and this will be a tough transition for us. Especially me, Stephanie.

My heart still hurts at the thought of leaving Thailand and not knowing when I will return. I will miss sooo many things I can’ t even begin…but just as there was pain in leaving family and friends behind on that first plane ride…there will be pain in my heart leaving this place that I have called home for the past four years…we will also be starting all over.

We will not have a bed on which to lay our head when we return. We will be trusting God to take care of us with the same amount of faith that we have had to trust him here with. While all of this seems a bit overwhelming…we want you to know that we are excited and confident in this new direction. John will be working with His father all over the US and in many other countries as well as working with His father in reaching out to the Native American Indians.

We ask that you lift us up in prayer whenever you think on us and that those who support us…we ask that you to continue to support us through this transition and then as God leads. We still have need of support in returning to America.

We believe we will return to Thailand someday and our lives are still in His hands. We will go where he leads as missionaries to wherever He sends us…even if it is nonconventional…we will go as missionaries to America and then onto wherever it is that He sends us. We still feel like missionaries but we’re just changing location. We will live our lives as missionaries in America...continuing to speak Thai to our children and raise them up to be mission minded.

Upon our return we understand that many Americans don’t understand or support the concept of missionaries to America but in truth that is what we will be…giving our lives to reaching the lost and equipping the body of Christ.

Thank you for loving us, supporting us and praying for us. Please do not stop praying for Thailand or for us. I would personally love to hear from you after reading this post. I will continue to post as things unfold and keep you informed...

With much love,
The Blakes
John, Stephanie, Josiah, Jude and Jossalyn


Anonymous said...

wow! welcome home!:)

Shannon Miller Henry said...

Wow, Steph! Isn't it amazing how God can bring so many things together to shwo you ONE answer? I know your heart is and Thailand and that part of it will always be, but there are hearts yearning and aching to know the Lord right here in America as well and I am confident that you and your family will reach many just as you always do. Steph, you have a true beauty that comes from the Lord and it shines from within. Maybe you don't always notice, but trust me when I say that other people do notice it about you. No matter where you are if you and John continue to let God lead you, you'll never go wrong. I'm so happy and excited for you that you've finally received that answer that you and so many others have been waiting for--for direction on what to do and where to go. Please continue to blog. It is always a pleasure to read the great things that God is doing.

Anonymous said...

My prayer is that you guys have peace about the new transition, and about leaving Thailand to someday return. I will be praying for you and your family. May God bless your family and your new mission work.

Sara said...

What a wonderful story of God's guidance and provision in your life...we'll be watching your journey :)xxoo

Ellen said...

Wow, Stephanie, it sounds like this next step is exactly the right one. I agree with one of the posts above, please continue to blog. It is a blessing and a bright spot to hear of how God is working in your and your family's lives!

Tabitha said...

Hey Steph, My heart felt hurt too when reading your blog. I know what a difference John and you have made in Thailand. There are so many wonderful memories and testimonies that you have to share.However Im very excited for you both and know that wherever God leads you follow. America desperately needs missionaries. Our country is at stake and we as Americans need to stand up for our faith, spread the news and reach out to the lost and broken. Looking forward to seeing just what God has in store for your family. Besides you will have a good team working with you. lol. Blessings