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During our time as missionaries overseas, we never pictured ourselves Iiving in Canada as supported missionaries. After God had closed the doors to serve Him in Peru, we thought that God would send us somewhere else but soon realized that He wanted us here in Canada, at least for a time.
When our family had the privilege/opportunity to participate in the RE-VIEW program, I had no idea that a year later we would be serving with Outreach Canada as MORE missionaries.
There were 4 things that God, in His goodness and wisdom, wanted me to learn before I started something new.
It was strange to find myself unable to say who I was to people who asked or to write what I did when filling out forms. For 20 years I had been a missionary. All of a sudden, I was no longer a missionary but had not yet moved on to anything else. I had left Peru, left friends and community, left ministry, left familiarity, left living skills, left language, left comfort and identity.
On one hand it was freeing, but on the other hand very unsettling.
Being in the position where everything had been peeled away, I was left with the comforting realization that my identity never was, and never would be, as a missionary or anything else other than as a child of God. I knew this to a certain degree but had not embraced it as fully as I now do.
Embracing my identity freed me to go forward trusting in God alone and not trusting in my own abilities.
“There are certain parts of Jesus you just can’t know on a path of ease, and once you’ve tasted that closeness with Him you wouldn’t trade it for the smooth course.” Kelly Minter
Though the transition was difficult at times, it also held much richness as I drew close to the Lord and learned more about who He was in His Word.
God is Sovereign and I can trust Him.
His ways are greater than my ways. He has a plan for my good and His glory. I learned to trust God’s purposes as I let go of my projected ones.
God is my Provider in every aspect. He gave us much needed rest and time with family. Our practical needs were provided for as well as an affordable place to live, schools for our children, vehicles and winter clothing. While we thought we needed to move on directly to the next “thing”, God provided us with time to process and rest when we hadn’t realized how much we needed them both. He also provided opportunities for our family to have transition help through our church and programs like RE-VIEW and ReBoot.
God is always Faithful.
By allowing us to look back and remember many of the times that He had shown His faithfulness to us, we were assured of His continued faithfulness.
Knowing who God is enables me to live more surrendered to Him.
Again, God allowed us time to rest and process.
We weren’t ready to jump into something new right away although we didn’t know that at the time. One aspect of preparing us meant we needed to leave the past behind, as well as forgive, so that we would not bring the past into the future. This required deeper reflection and that we look into our hearts.
Our time in transition can be likened, in some ways, to the Israelites being led through the wilderness. The Lord tested us to show us what was in our hearts. He humbled us so that we would be surrendered and reliant on Him. Sin needed to be repented of to start anew.
Throughout Paul’s life, he was humbled, and his pride diminished through his brokenness. As Paul’s pride decreased, his growing grace and love for others resulted in an increase in his effectiveness as God’s servant.
To continue to be used by God we need to remain surrendered and reliant, staying in a place of humility filled with grace and love.
Without realizing it, I had carried a heavy load of responsibility and concern for those we served in our previous ministry. Once I was able to lay it all before the Lord and have this weight removed gradually, over many months, I felt the lightness of Jesus’ yoke upon me. (Matt 11:28-30)
God used our past and present experiences, including our transition, to direct us to where we are currently serving with MORE as OC missionaries. God wants me to be able to fully engage in this place to serve Him unencumbered by the past.
Surrender. I needed to surrender to His time, His way, His purposes.
I like to plan and have life mapped out for the most part, so it was very difficult living with so much uncertainty about our future - not knowing where, when, or what we would be doing. Learning to surrender and wait for God’s time and way of bringing His plans about was hard but necessary.
Relying on Him. Throughout our years of ministry in Peru we had learned to depend on the Lord in different ways. After serving in Peru for ten years we had grown comfortable - enjoying the ministry there and who we were working with. Not wanting to stay there just because we were comfortable, my husband and I began to pray and ask God to show us if He still wanted us there. Ten years later, God led us back to Canada bringing us to a new place of reliance.
Being reliant on God doesn’t mean being comfortable but it does bring peace.
Trusting that God has worked all things for my good, I believe that God knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and that those plans are to shape me and mold me to be more like Christ.
Back in June of 2019, I had written Psalm 31:3 in my journal and then rewrote it to apply it to me.
“For you are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for your name’s sake [not for my comfort or my good or my pride] lead me and guide me.”
In our times of experiencing huge changes, God has been a fortress for us, a solid rock who does not change. He has protected us along the way, and I continue to find refuge in Him. My heart’s desire in my life (which included our transition and time of facing new beginnings) is that the Lord would lead us and guide us for His name’s sake, for His glory.
I thank the Lord for leading us and guiding us. We do not just have a new ministry, or a new position with a new organization, but, we ourselves have been renewed in the process.
What has God taught you in your times of transition? How has your transition drawn you closer to the Lord?
Diane Fietje serves with the MORE Network as a part-time administrator and full-time MK champion. Along with her husband Mike and their children, she spent 20 years in Peru with a mission organization serving children at risk. Having experienced transition back to Canada, Diane knows how hard it can be to readjust to life in North America and is delighted to be able to help others in similar circumstances.