With a mixture of excitement and emotion, we prepare to move to Banaba House Ministries in Manila. Simply put, having a garage sale is always good therapy for letting go. We've lived here in Sweet Home for nine years and have made many close friendships. It's hard to leave.
So, why go? Why pack our lives into suitcases and move to serve in Manila's slums? The reason is simply that God has prepared a place there that fits our story.
That's how things work in God's kingdom. Before we were born, God drew up a plan for our lives. That plan prepares us for and pushes us into each phase. He has good works prepared in advance for us to accomplish in each place He puts us.
In this journey called life, our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him in each of life's phases. After finding forgiveness through Jesus, living out this purpose is usually done as we use our talents to work and bless others. As we live in relationship with others, the Holy Spirit helps us reflect the beauty of God. Whether our trail is rugged or smooth, we want to walk as Jesus did. WWJD?
So, while leaving is sad and difficult, it is exciting to look forward to the relationships and blessings we'll find through Banaba House Ministries. We will learn so much from new friends and pour blessings into their lives, as well.
Orientation and training with Gary!
Through difficult circumstances, God brought Gary to our house this weekend. We've spent many hours catching a glimpse of our next steps. We are encouraged and invigorated! God has prepared some wonderful work for us in Quezon City, Manila. The timing is right for us to find our fit in the Banaba team. Our whole family has a part to play in mentoring, educating and discipling young people. With three discipleship houses, two vocational sites, and two schools, there is a Swanson-shaped place at Banaba House Ministries where we will fit and serve. Will you join our journey?
The past six months have been unsettling, resulting in our deciding to uproot from our work in Sweet Home, Oregon and settle in Manila. How did this happen?
In December, life was predictable, full of ministry and friends. Then, January happened.
A few days before the January Mission Connexion conference, Gina mentioned that she was feeling a call to missions... so we decided to attend the conference. It was incredible. I kind of expected to make a connection and find some direction. We met tons of great people but I didn't hear God say anything specific. He did drop a few clues.
Over the next few months, we felt an increasing urgency to go to unreached people. It felt like we were being pulled along towards an unknown destination. God told us clearly that we would be overseas by September, but He didn't tell us where. Remarkably, our pastor confirmed that God had told him months before that we'd be going international.
We explored websites, prayed a ton, and met with journey coaches and pastors from various mission agencies. God was silent about where He was sending us. That was very difficult. We knew we were going, but we didn't know where. God was saying, "Do you trust me?"
In June, we had decided on three probable choices. My school year ended, and we waited for God. God is never late with His clarity. We make our plans and God directs our steps. On Monday June 13, God made it clear and we're on our way to serve at Banaba House Ministries in Manila.
Below is the one of the three Banaba discipleship houses: