I am a bit behind in the Blog Challenge for October, but I will finish well. I have been writing a lot about Creativity and about the direction our ministry, Rivers of Eden, is going in 2014. I don’t want to go deeper into my thoughts on creativity yet, because I want to focus on that in November. So for the rest of this challenge, until October 31, I am going to write spontaneously about things I have learned while living and traveling abroad for the past 10 years.
Let’s start with Finland. My husband and I have a residence visa there – a second home to us. It is beautiful, but not always easy to live there. As darkness encroaches in the winter, you have to have a strong temperament not to suffer some sort of cabin fever. If you are a transplant from California, which we are, I often found myself looking for the sun. At times, I felt paralyzed by the heavy cloud cover which seemed to press down upon my life day by day.
So people ask us many many many times “Why Finland? Why are you in Finland?” They often look at us as if we are a bit quirky ourselves to choose a nation like Finland. But, they usually do not know, until we tell them, that we did not choose Finland. God chose Finland for us. Whoa!!! Please stay with me here. I hope I don’t lose you. Let me explain.
In 2002, three of us were praying in our living room and we heard God speak “Go to Helsinki.” (Christians do hear the voice of God which can lead one on glorious adventures. This is normal Christianity and for those of you who think that is a bit strange, well, it’s true. God does speak to His people) Keep following me okay? I never wanted normal mundane Christianity and believed that if walking in the supernatural was normal in the New Testament, it is normal for me in my life. Anyway, back to the living room.
In prayer, we heard the Holy Spirit say, “Go to Helsinki.” I did not know anything about Helsinki at the time. We were excited to believe God would take us on a wonderful journey, so we continued to pray for the next three months about the trip. Were we complete crazies? Yes and no. I mean, it was a stretch but I am a bit of an extravagant Charismatic at times. I go wholeheartedly into anything I do for God, so I just jumped in faith at this trip. Nothing deterred me, not even the funny looks we got from so many people in California when we told there we were going to Helsinki. You can’t even imagine how many Americans did not even know where Finland was in the world. Scary thought guys.
God was gracious to us, being our first time and all. He assured us over and over that this was Him speaking to us about Finland. When we were assured that this was a ‘go’, we bought our tickets and flew to Helsinki, Finland, for 2 weeks. During that time, all we did was pray, walk the streets, talk with people, and experience the nation. We got on a train from Helsinki to Oulu (almost the top of the world folks) and prayed all the way up and all the way back. I loved the adventure. Yet, prayers just shot up to God without a response is a bit boring to me. So I expected God to speak to us. He did not fail to disappoint. He talked to us in visions, dreams and revelation for our whole trip. I was hooked. Finland became a part of my life, and still is. What next?
Through a series of events over the past 11 years, too numerous to mention here, Marvin and I took one step at a time. Doors opened, doors shut. We rented a total of three different apartments. We obtained our Finnish ID number. They placed us in the system with healthcare. And here we stand today – called to this nation, loving this nation, and looking with great excitement to what the future holds. (I have traveled throughout a lot of the world and have many stories of God taking us into places to pray and meet people. More will be coming.)
Anyway, after years of ups and downs, learning and making mistakes, I know that when God puts a nation on your heart, you love the nation and its people no matter what they do to you, think of you or say about you. So I am heading back in one week to spend time in prayer with our small team for Rivers of Eden to figure out our next step in Finland. This past year has been spent in California but God has always promised us we would live in both places. Good stuff, guys. The face of the church is changing and I don’t want the same old boring stuff, churchy stuff, religious stuff. I want the creative out of the box stuff that fills me with passion. So off we go. It looks to be a good year. God’s in it all the way. It is a shift, a dramatic shift for us, incorporating our travels ministry and out of the box Christianity. But, I have been trained all these years for this. It’s time to walk.