This is my first attempt to write down an outline of the dots that, when joined up, pointed to God calling us to Amsterdam. In essence, this is how we listened to the inner voice of the Spirit guiding us. I am sure our perspective will change over time but the events speak for themselves. Needless to say I have omitted our bible readings, prayers and my many 'knots in stomach':
July 2006 - Rob Rufus prophesied a number of things over me, one of which was that I was going to be parachuted into situations and the team at RFC would keep the plane on course. He also said that I am in a testing pattern; that God was going to open up my ministry; and this was a gift not my wages.
June 2007 - Naomi Pendle sent me a prophetic picture saying the current battle is drawing to a close and that God was calling me to a new terrain but still fighting battles for His church.
January 2008 - Naomi has a picture of us as a family; that God had planted us in a circle so that we could support one another as we grew.
February - Dave Stroud asked me & Liz to consider moving to Amsterdam to plant an international church. It 'just happened' that I was in the middle of a teaching series on Jonah, who coincidently was commissioned by God to go preach to a foreign city. Jonah’s issue was not hearing the calling but being obedient to it. For Liz and I the first big question that we needed to answer was ‘is this God speaking?’ If so, then we needed learn from Jonah and be obedient.
Initiatially I had determined to pray with Liz about it for two weeks, then say ‘No’. The day to send the ‘No’ email came but I 'just happened' to meet an old friend (Tony Thompson) who helped me to reconsider! Tony helped us plant Reading so know us and is involved in church planting into Europe.
Liz and I met with Dave Stroud to discuss it more formally. We also attend an elders & wives weekend with our team and it is here that we all surrendered our lives afresh to Jesus.
We had lunch Sean & Nola Dooley, for the first time ever (it 'just happened' we booked a date in months before). They moved their family from South Africa to plant their church and they were very encouraging & helpful. He also serves churches in Amsterdam & Holland.
March - Naomi has another prophetic picture for our family – that we were on a roller coaster with many ups & downs but God has us well strapped in and we would enjoy it.
April – Liz & I travelled to Amsterdam. On the flight over God spoke to Liz about perspective and His bigger picture. We both came back feeling there were no giants in the land.
Ben Davies, on talking it through with him, thought that this was not of man but of God.
Whilst at New Word Alive, I kept remembering John Piper’s teaching on ‘Don’t waste your life’. I also saw for the first time Rom 12v1 that ‘spiritual act of worship’ can also be translated as ‘reasonable or rationale act of worship’. I felt God say that in light of the cross, this was a reasonable act of worship – it is not foolish.
11 April – We decide to go and both feel God’s peace. We each have a deep sense of God’s pleasure and calling. Nervously excited.
21 April - I moan at God that we were going alone and that we had no money to spend when we take the children on a now planned visit to Amsterdam. The next day I 'just happened' to receive a cheque in the post from a fellow pastor in Reading ‘to bless our family’ and also received an email about a family wishing to join the Amsterdam church plant.
May - Jacob Johns (the father of one of the students) 'just happened' to be at the Sunday meeting and said to us "you know God is going to move you on, this is a training ground".
June – We took the children to Amsterdam for 3 days and they loved it. A week later we told them our plans. Although it was a very difficult time, within a few days they had bounced back and now we are having fun listening to a ‘teach yourself Dutch’ CD. We then tell all the leaders and then the church, many are suprised but a great rise of faith by all.
Through all of this process, the eldership team at RFC and other close friends, have helped us work it through “in the council of many there is wisdom”.