Fear gets in the way.
Sometimes fear leads us to run. Sometimes fear leads us to hide. Sometimes fear leads us to escape to a far away land or an imaginary place in our mind where we’re safe and surrounded by happy sorts of things.
I never thought of myself as a fearful person. As a child, I loved the thrill of a roller coaster…being whipped around as though I was weightless and seeing the world pass through my eyes upside down and backwards. I enjoy heights, and seeing things from a new perspective…having that feeling of a thousand butterflies in your tummy as you look down. I love travelling to new places and jumping over puddles, and trying new foods. Of course, I have had my fair share of fears throughout life…bad dreams, scary growling dogs, and my strange fear of ostriches. But none of these were ever so serious or overwhelming. The bad dreams went away, the growling dogs stopped growling, and well…I still don’t like ostriches. They’re just so strange.
Recently, I have been faced with a number of challenges and fears that surpass my fear of dogs and dreams and obscure birds.
I have now been living in Bangkok, Thailand for eleven months. ELEVEN! Yes, to some that may seem like nothing…but for me, this has been my longest time being away from my family back home in Canada. I often miss my family and friends, my church family, the convenience of getting in my car and driving to the mall or local Starbucks…it’s the simple things. While I still refer to Canada as home, I also call Bangkok home. My husband is here, my brother and sister-in law, and soon to be little baby niece live here! Plus, God has given me a church family here in the city and friends and a whole new variety of Starbucks locations to visit!! Isn’t it funny how just being able to sit in a familiar place and eat or drink a familiar flavour can make you instantly feel at home 🙂
As I sit and write this, I am eating a chocolate cake cooked in a mug 🙂 A mug cake. Ooey gooey deliciousness! I tell you this for two reasons: 1 – because all good things should be shared (http://www.cleobuttera.com/cakes/molten-chocolate-mug-cake/) and 2 – because eating chocolate cake in a mug on your couch just feels SO homey!! And that’s exactly how I feel…at home 🙂
The challenges of my life currently, the ones that surpass my childhood fears, are predominantly having to do with paper. This of course sounds ridiculous, but paper work can be quite the challenge. Here is a bit of a breakdown of what I mean:
Sponsorship Papers: My husband and I are working on our Canadian Sponsorship application which will open the door for him to come to Canada. The difficulty is not so much in the types of questions they ask, but rather in the multitude of forms and background documents required to prove the validity of our relationship. I like to think of it as us creating a massive, in-depth scrapbook of our relationship that we then hand over to Immigration.
VISA papers: Living in a country that is not your own also means that a Visa is required to stay here past the normal short term length of a visit. God provided me with a long-term Visa that doesn’t expire until much later next year. Our challenge right now is to find John a Visa…his expires in late July, and so we are praying and trusting God to bring an opportunity for a new Visa for him. With many new rules being put in place, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live here as a foreigner. But God is a BIG God, and just as He provided in the past, we know He will keep providing!
India papers: An amazing opportunity to go and serve in Hyderabad, India for a month has come up and John and I believe God has called us both to go. I have been praying about and dreaming about India for the past seven years or so. Just the mention of the name has brought excitement to me. I felt like God was leading me there, and preparing me to go for many years now, and now the time has come, or so we hope! John and I are in the process of raising funds for this trip where our focus will be to serve families in need, and help to lead outreach programs for children. The plan is to leave on April 27th, and return at the end of May. We need approximately $4,000 CAD to go for the month which includes our costs for flights and accommodation as well as the ministry costs for the programs we will be helping to lead. We also need to apply for tourist Visas to get into India. The trip is being organized by ARK International, an International Organization that serves to help transform the lives of children at risk. John and I really believe that God is leading us to go, and so we are trusting that He will provide a way for us to go.
Seeing these three areas of my life written out almost makes them seem less daunting. While I am usually an overly optimistic person, the overwhelming nature of life these days has often led me to feel more on the negative side. Fear creeps in ever so quietly and suddenly I hear myself using the words “I’m scared” a lot.
I am scared of not knowing what is happening next.
I am scared that I won’t be able to handle more changes.
But this is not what God has called me to…He has called me to “Do it Afraid!”, to step out in fear, to trust Him and not allow the lies of the enemy to keep me from the amazing journey at hand! God used those exact words, “Do it Afraid” to confirm His call on me to go to Romania years back. And here I am again standing at the edge, afraid of what is coming and unsure of how to move forward. The list of “what if’s” is large…but God’s list of “I Am’s” is greater!
For every fear and excuse we have, God tells us that He is greater, and He has GOOD things in store for us. The Bible is full of times when God spoke “Do not be afraid”. We are not children of fear or anxiety or worry, but rather children of a promise. We have a God who cares for even the smallest of birds. He works all things together for good. He provides for our every need, and delights in bringing us joy…just like a father delights in giving his child the very best of all he has.
This Easter weekend, we had a beautiful church service and sang a song called “Great I AM”. The words that really resonated in my heart as we sung them out were,
“The mountains shake before You the demons run and flee
At the mention of the name King of Majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the great I AM”
There truly is nothing greater than God! Our fears have no place in His presence. No authority can stand up to Him, and no power can overtake Him.
I feel so encouraged and drawn to these words as I think of all the tasks and obstacles at hand. I believe that the government will give us favour in all we do. I believe that all of our Visa issues and needs will be addressed and taken care of well beyond our own capabilities. I believe that John and I are exactly where we need to be at this time, and that wherever God may lead us, it will be good. And He will provide the way.
In the midst of all that is going on in our lives, John and I have been having an amazing first year of marriage!! I love him more today than ever before, and feel more and more connected to him each day. He is faithful and kind and selfless in his love towards me. The other day we sat and folded laundry on the floor and I just felt so loved and happy to have him in my life 🙂 It’s those little quiet moments when you feel like you’re in a movie and soft piano tunes play out while the audience gets teary-eyed…those moments I love the most.
We are in a special season. A chapter of our story that is filled with growth, and character development. My time working at the International school has come to an end, both happy and sad. It was a hard time for me, but also an amazing time of being rerouted by God. The job was good in its season, but when it ended I felt an excitement and anticipation that was missing. God helped to reroute me back to a place of full time ministry. I’ve been involved for the past few months in community work with ARK International, and helping to lead children’s programs for those in need. It’s been a really good season for me, and God is so good to bring me to a place where I can feel fulfilled and passionate, and very much like myself 🙂
John, who has also been living a lifestyle of ministry, and I are now working together as we serve our community and share God’s love with those we meet. We both serve at our local church, Newsong Bangkok. John leads the Aquaponics ministry, which continues to grow, and I lead the Children’s Ministries. Our group has grown from five children to over twenty who attended today! Seeing kids become friends and connect with each other while they learn about Jesus is the best thing! One young girl has been a special encouragement to me. Her mom informed me that each night, since they met me, her youngest daughter prays for her “Miss Becky” as she refers to me. I was nearly in tears hearing that! How powerful is it that God uses even the youngest child to bless and encourage you! I love kids so much 🙂 And my husband, Farmer John, loves to plant and grow…I’ve never seen a man be so excited to watch his plants grow. It’s beautiful and adorable 🙂 He is not just passionate about the plants, but more so about helping others in practical and life-giving ways. I see this picture of my husband, a fisher of men, a sower of seeds, a man who bakes and brings the daily the bread, and a man who cares for the weak and the poor.
We are looking for people who are interested in supporting us, and giving towards what we are doing here in Thailand. As neither of us are being paid for our ministry involvement, we depend on the giving of others. It is not always easy, but it is so worthwhile to see how God provides in the most practical of ways for us. Our monthly living costs are about $2,000 CAD, so we hope to find people that would be willing to invest in us on a monthly basis, and help us to do what God has called us to do. Anyone wishing to support us can give online at https://paoc.org/donate/johnrebeccaviapianaross and also at http://www.internationalmissionssupport.com/Donations.html, for our American friends.
Although we don’t know what next month, or tomorrow will look like, we can stand firm and know that it will be good because God is there. Wherever you are, whatever fears you hold, the Great I AM is there with open arms and is saying, “Do not be afraid”.
“The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”