You can keep up with our Faith Journey Travels by checking our website here!
I was born with a yellow streak that ran all the way up my backside…literally. I have always been afraid of everything. The dark, of course the dark. The boogie man, my shadow, strangers, the sky falling, anything that could happen would happen and it would definitely happen to me at the worst possible time. Oh, and did I mention elevators? I am terrified of elevators and closed-in places of any kind. I am so claustrophobic I once made my husband climb 14 flights of stairs to avoid the elevator.
He loves me.
Fast forward to December, 2009. My husband and I were pastoring a small church in Northwest Missouri. Our oldest son and his wife were living in Tennessee pursuing their education and our middle son was in Indiana doing the same. Our youngest son was still with us finishing high school. A missionary friend of ours, Mark Shutes, was with us for the weekend from the country of Latvia, one of the three Baltic States. We had not seen him in about five years. We were in a transitional time in our ministry and were contemplating moving to a metropolitan area to begin a daughter-work with another pastor. The morning service was very good and the Spirit was speaking to the congregation. Afterward Missionary Shutes, The Sweetheart, and our son Korey and I went for lunch, and over conversation Missionary Shutes suddenly just asked us both, “What are you two doing here?” At that moment all three of us begin to cry, no one had said anything yet. I looked up at him and said two words none of us will ever forget:
I had no idea really what I was saying at the moment but the Holy Spirit did because Missionary Shutes was putting together a team for the country of Latvia and God was putting together something even bigger than that.
But I had never even been out of the country! I hated to fly, was terrified of closed in places and crowds and so many other things, how was I ever going to go to a foreign country and LIVE among people where I couldn’t even speak their language?? But when God is in it He always makes a way and we all knew it was just right!
Things started to happen quickly it seemed. We resigned the church early in the spring of 2010 and went on the road to raise funds. Missionary Shutes wasn’t going to be back in Latvia as quickly as we were going to be ready to go, so the missionary in Tallinn, Estonia said he would love to have us join him for three months before we went to Latvia. God is so good!
We left in September, 2010 for Estonia, what a wonderful introduction to Eastern Europe! When we first rounded the corner to step into Old Town, Tallinn, Missionary Nate Turner said to us, “Prepare to be amazed!” What an understatement. Tallinn is absolutely breathtaking! We loved our time there, we had an apartment right downtown in Tallinn. We walked everywhere we went and managed to communicate, which was a challenge. We taught Bible studies and helped the missionary in the home fellowship groups. It was an amazing time in our lives.
We came home in December and then spent some more time on the road raising funds and at this time our son Korey informed us he also felt the burden to go with us! He decided to go for six months and start the music program in the church in Riga, Latvia. He plays guitar and keyboard and he lead worship on the streets in Riga and was in charge of evangelism. What a life changing opportunity it was for him and a great time for all three of us to be together. We are forever changed.
We spent a year in the capital city of Riga starting a brand new work.
We helped established new home fellowship groups and formed English clubs in our home. We had a wonderful group of twenty-somethings coming to our home two and three nights a week for Bible study and fellowship. We loved them so much.
Oh, and the fears? Everytime I think about what I overcame to get to Europe I still get choked up because I know it was an absolute MIRACLE from God. I was not afraid one time on the plane; I didn’t panic, I even enjoyed it. Taking the buses, and tunnels and trains, oh my! I loved everything about the trips, God is so awesome like that. So many little things He did for me on the way that just amazed me, I shall forever be indebted.
And lastly let me share one BIG thing He did when I arrived. The enemy wasn’t about to let me just show up in his territory and not show his hand. He knew my weakness was fear. Riga, Latvia is a very oppressed country. They have only been out from under Soviet occupation for 25 years. There is not a lot of Christian influence in the country like we know in America. So when you show up in a country like that with the intent of taking it for Jesus the enemy isn’t just going to sit back and let you have his territory. But I didn’t know that….I didn’t know that every missionary that shows up over there is hit with some sort of opposition. I just showed up Miss-Happy-Go-Lucky-Glad-To-Be-Here.
About the third day of cleaning my little Russian apartment I was literally hit with a spirit of FEAR! Now I don’t mean fear like “I’m afraid this dress doesn’t match my jacket” fear…we are talking panic attack fear. I was beside myself and didn’t know why. I had settled it all coming over. I wanted to come; I was happy to be there. Why was I afraid? It was dreadful! I was wringing my hands, saying I had to get out of there but yet I knew I couldn’t. Korey was telling his Dad to take me home and I would say, “No! Don’t take me home; I can’t go home! Everyone will think something is wrong with me!!” Finally, The Sweetheart, Douglas, the Mighty Warrior, said we had to call Missionary Shutes. Oh my, now they would think I was crazy. They would know I was weak and not strong enough to be there and not a prayer warrior and on and on and on…you get the picture. But he called him anyway because…..we were desperate.
When Missionary Shutes and his wife Robin arrived he just looked at me and smiled and said, “We will take care of that spirit of fear that is cowering over there in the corner in a moment.” He went on to explain that Satan really did own that country before, and had for centuries, and that when God’s people came in to take dominion over it that he would try anything to keep us out and if fear was your weakness then that is what he would try. Every missionary that came over was met with something and we were no different. He then told me he was going to bind that spirit and command it to go in Jesus’ name and then loose the peace of God. And he did just that and INSTANTLY, I was completely at peace again! Korey and I were just so amazed at the way it just happened so fast. One minute I am a mess and the next I am as calm and peaceful as can be. What a wonderful Healer we serve. I can say now I am so thankful I went through that so I could experience His healing power!
If you need deliverance from fear, God still delivers! Bind that spirit of fear in the name of Jesus and loose the peace of God that passes all understanding. He desires for us to experience His presence today and not be bound by fear and anxiety. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment..”
You don’t have to go to a foreign country to do something for God, there is so much to be done right here in your own backyard. So many hurting people need hope in their healing. Speak healing words whenever you can. Offer life-giving words from the Book of Life and share the love of God every chance you get. You are the only Jesus most people will ever come in contact with.
Footnote: We are back in the U.S. now sharing the burden of Revival By Design that we helped birth in Latvia. You can read all about this exciting endtime ministry on our website here. I travel with The Sweetheart most weekends helping churches prepare for the revival that God wants to give us. We do also go overseas at least once a year and share when the opportunity arises thanks to many churches that still support our ministry.