I (Emily) wanted to share a little about the process from when we were thinking about doing this crazy, exciting thing to how it all came about.
The idea of taking a Sabbatical year started after Teddy had done some intense study in the book of Leviticus about 6 years ago. God calls the Israelites to take a Sabbatical year every 7 years. This is a time where no planting or plowing is to be done and for the Israelites to rest (and worry a little) in the fact that they had to trust God for all their needs. There is a higher power in the world besides the work of man’s hands. There were great economic and environmental benefits to this as well. It was the idea of restoring relationships and the earth in a consistent cycle.
Fast forward to 2006 in the Ray household. “We should do this! We have 6 years to think about it and should do it in 2013!” Fast forward to 2012 in the Ray household (four kids later). Wow, those years went fast. Teddy and I had a moment where we had to come to grips with what God had been working in us.
Do we actually do this?
Yes. Yes, we do. Or at least we take some steps to see if we really believe this is something God would have us do.
From there God took us on a great journey. First we decided to contact some people that we knew in missions. Teddy set up a meeting with John Mark, a friend who was in town from the Asia Pacific, where he serves. I made plans to contact a guy that was in my youth group way back when, Patrick. Teddy met with John Mark on a Thursday and had a great talk. John Mark shared about his work with the One Mission Society and, after hearing what we were considering, suggested that Columbia and Ecuador were countries he felt compelled to mention.
The next day our family went to visit my parents, who had just received a postcard from my friend Patrick. The postcard showed that he and his family were with One Mission Society and that the countries where he had done his training and work were Columbia and Ecuador!
We arranged a phone conversation with Patrick and let him know what we were considering. During that conversation he spoke of the Every Community for Christ initiative with OMS and its main principles. The more Patrick shared, the more excited and surprised Teddy and I became. The principles that he was talking about were the same things that we had already felt God drawing us into — things like developing home churches, empowering laity to be pastors to their own communities, and having a tool to teach the basics of the faith to both Christians and people who are interested in learning more about the faith. It seemed like for the last 5 years God had been preparing us for this, and now our eyes were opened to it.
After more conversations with One Mission Society, we were steered in a different direction than Ecuador or Colombia. But those early conversations, before we had even begun telling anyone else we were considering this, were some of our strongest early confirmation that God might be leading us in this direction. He has been so faithful! I can’t wait to share more.