Over the past couple of months, you have probably read a blog post or two about my friend Andy. He, his wife Jodie and their four awesome kids, have taken off on a whirlwind adventure of loving God and loving others. They have left everything they know, all their close family relationships and comforts, and headed to a part of the world where electricity is a luxury that they do not get to enjoy. A place where water must be collected when it rains, where daily life is primarily about survival, where they do not know anyone or the language of the village and most importantly -- a place where God’s love is not known. They have been in this remote village for two months and have been blasted since day one. Let me give you just a small list of the trials that have hit this amazing couple and their children:
* They have been attacked by poisonous snakes
* Their third-born contracted malaria
* Their third-born recovered from malaria, only to contract it again
* All of their kids and family contracted severe diarrhea and stomach ailments
* Jodie cut her foot and experienced a debilitating infection with severe pain and massive swelling
* Andy and Jodie both contracted malaria
* Their oldest was bit by a scorpion and had to be “shocked” to curb the pain and limit the spread of poison
* Twice their life-giving water supply was contaminated with dead animals, forcing them to empty every last drop
* The oldest two children also contracted malaria
* Several of the kids have had severe fevers in a comfortless, hot and humid region
This is only a partial list and keep in mind -- it’s only be two months!
So as I woke up to start the morning routine and get the kids to school today, I stopped my running around when I saw I had another email with their latest update. I read these the moment they come in since it takes them 45 minutes to an hour, each way, to travel to a place from where they can send updates. They don’t take the stroll to tell me how the weather is doing -- I know these emails are important.
My heart broke again as I heard how things have gotten worse for this family. They are serving in this village with a team of people from the states, but none of whom are having the same trials Andy and Jodie are experiencing (although each of them is certainly facing tough times!). The team leaders has been working closely with Andy and Jodie to try and help, support and encourage them, and he has also been communicating with their unit leader back here in the states.
This morning news came down that for the sake of their family’s well-being, Andy and Jodie and their four beautiful children will be pulled off the field and sent back home to the states.
This family loves God and has a passion to love others anywhere in the world. They have been excited and passionate about doing this in a village where God’s name is not known, yet as God leads, it is apparent that they must return home from this part of their journey. I can’t imagine how difficult a decision this was for everyone. I can’t imagine the heartache the family is experiencing as they process the return trip. I’m sure there is also a little joy at the thought of being back to what’s familiar, but also a sense of loss as a big dream and goal is slipping away.
Will you please pray for this Overboard family?
I’m so proud of Andy and what his family has done. The choice to live Overboard and follow God, even in a set a circumstances that seems less than ideal or not at all how it was initially envisioned, is what makes Overboard living such a matter of faith. All of us love the mountaintop experiences where the view is clear, the path behind us is well-defined, and the struggles of the climb are swallowed up in the beauty of the view. But the Overboard Life isn’t defined by the view from the top, it’s defined by the choice to start the journey -- the decision to step onto the trail in the first place.
God doesn’t promise us any mountain tops in this life, He just asks us to start on the trail.
And when we start the trail, God promises to give us peace, comfort and rest.
Andy’s Overboard journey has just begun. I’m confident that path God has for Him will continue to unexplored lands, and adventures that only God could orchestrate. In the mean time, please pray with me, that Andy, Jodie and their children will find the comfort, peace and rest they are most certainly in need of. Pray that God will make clear His plan for them in the next part of the journey, and that whatever and where ever it is, they will be ready to go. Maybe a return to the place their leaving? Maybe a return to local-church ministry? Maybe a whole new adventure where the last few years will come into clarity and they’ll see God’s precise hand in all that has transpired. Whatever is next, God knows, and let’s pray for this dear family and their journey.
And as we do, let’s pray that you and I would be willing to live as Overboard as Andy and Jodie have. May God raise up many more who take up the Overboard Life like them.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!