Disclaimer: The amazingly talented and beautiful Christina DeVictor with Someplace Wild took these pictures for us. Although she is not accepting family shoots right now, we were privileged to get a shoot with her at the beach. You will love her work. Talent all over that incredible sister in law of mine 🙂
There are moments in life where we can see the bigger picture. We can look back and see God’s hand in our story. It may not always look or feel like it in the day to day, but God does have a purpose for each of our lives. My amazing husband can say this so much better than I, so I am going to turn over today’s post to Matt. Enjoy!
Wait, didn’t you all just move? Yes.
And you’re moving again? Yep.
Why in the world would you do that? I’m so glad you asked…
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
In the fall of 2009, I was the Executive Director of a non-profit ministry called Broken Voices. We traveled around the country creating films and live events in the hope of awakening college students to dream big and act now with the passions God had placed inside them. We shared the truths that had become meaningful to us from that Ephesians 2:10 passage and sought out people who were looking for their purpose in this life.
It was a crazy adventure.
We packed up our crew in 2 passenger vans and hit the road almost exactly 5 years ago. Working to get the very best last minute deals, we’d often drive into a city and hit a hotel that I had booked on Priceline as we were pulling into town. Being that we had scheduled a 3 month tour we decided there was no way we could travel without our families. My partner Andrew, his wife Emily and their two young boys, Erica, Caleb, and at the time, baby Jeremiah, made the trek with me in my mother-in-law’s 15 passenger van. Seriously, four adults and four boys in car seats, canvasing the country stopping at every college campus that would have us. We had three amazing crew members who followed in the van behind us towing all of our supplies in a big white trailer. We had the privilege of hosting 50 events that year for over 20,000 college students. I will never forget those days.
Most stops we’d pull in and out of town in 24-36 hours to head to our next event. However, there were a couple of stops on the tour that had several events all in close proximity over the course of a week. We coveted these moments because it meant we could settle in for a few days and be off the road. One of those moments of respite was found in a small town in northern Indiana known as Winona Lake. As I recall, we spent 7 or 8 days there while hitting up tour spots in the surrounding cities. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but there was something special about that place. We fell in love with the town and told people back home that it was one of our favorite stops on the whole tour.
The following summer I traveled with Andrew to be a part of a youth conference in Cedarville, OH. We led one of the morning sessions and were then taken out to lunch with some of the conference staff. Apparently there is nothing to eat in Cedarville because our driver lead us on what felt like a 3 hour tour to find a Mexican restaurant. Trying to take advantage of the spare time I now had on my hands, I introduced myself to the man sitting behind me in our van. He was there to lead the evening session, which instantly in conference world meant he was a much bigger deal than me and Andrew. Everyone knows that questionable speakers get the morning sessions and the big guns are brought in for the night sessions. Night sessions are usually when Jesus shows up. Morning sessions everyone is still sleepy eyed from last night’s amazing life changing session. So, I knew that this guy must be legit. My senses did not fail me. In about 15 minutes of talking to this Zambian born man named Kondo Simfukwe, I knew we were going to be life long friends.
I learned that Kondo was in the process of leading a small team of people to launch a church.
“Where?” I asked.
“Winona Lake, Indiana.” he replied.
I flipped out.
We spent the rest of our time together sharing vision, passion and connecting on so many exciting dreams for the future of our respective organizations. We committed to staying in touch and doing our best to encourage one another in our work from afar. Every few months one of us would call the other just to check in and make sure the dreams were still alive and well. Then in the summer of 2012 I was privileged to bring Kondo down to Atlanta to speak at one of our events. At that time, I knew that God was preparing me and my family for a season of change. I didn’t know what that was going to look like but I knew it was coming. After Kondo’s session, we spent the evening swapping stories with some other close friends. I don’t know if it was God speaking to me or just a thought that He placed in my mind, but I had a very clear sense that I was supposed to help Kondo and his church in some way. I didn’t know what that would look like but it seemed to me that given the opportunity we could work very well together.
Fast forward to summer 2013 and thanks to a friend’s wedding and a Broken Voices event both in northern Indiana, I found myself hanging out in Winona Lake with Kondo and his family for a few days. My family got the opportunity to finally attend Mission Point Community Church and experience the thing Kondo had been dreaming about in that van ride across Ohio 3 years prior. It was a special experience. While there I was able to work with the Mission Point team on some video projects. I suppose I did an okay job because they invited me back a few months later. At that point, they hired me to help create a video production set-up and train a group of volunteers to make video a regular thing for the church. We set up a contract for me to work part time from Atlanta for 2014. I have been able to work on their videos and website from home and once a quarter we load our family up for the 10 hour road trip to work long weekends with their team. It’s been some of our favorite moments of this past year.
Then in June, the phone rang and Kondo was on the other end with a full time offer for our family to move there and for me to serve as the Executive Director of Mission Point. We traveled back up to Winona Lake 4th of July weekend to spend time processing the offer and ironing out the details. Coming home we were at peace believing that this is what God has planned for us to do. As we’ve looked back at the last five years and all that we have experienced we have recognized moment after moment and conversation after conversation where the Lord was graciously preparing our hearts for this transition.
Our one condition to starting the moving process was waiting for things to be settled with our foster son. About three weeks after we returned home, he was moved to his Great Aunt’s home. So, the doors are open and all signs are pointing north. At this point, we are just waiting on God’s timing for the sale of our house.
We are leaving behind most of our family and a lot of our friends. The Atlanta area has been home to us for our entire lives.
But in all the emotions of this huge transition there is peace and there is hope.
Peace that we are making the right decision. And hope that in some small way our lives will make a difference for our new community in Indiana.
Winona Lake is located in Kosciusko county. 70,000 people live in Kosciusko and it has been estimated that 50,000 of those people are not connected to a local church. 50,000 people that need to experience the love of Jesus. That is the reason that Kondo and his team started Mission Point and we are excited to join them in that vision. Being a safe, inviting, and encouraging community that will welcome anyone in to experience a God who deeply loves them and desires great things for their lives.
The great thing about Erica’s blog and the community that she has developed here, is that you all get to come along with us for the ride! Imagine Erica with a new house to set up and decorate – it’s like a blank canvas of potential for her. I’m sure we will all benefit from the ridiculously cool things she will create and share along the way.
Thank you for journeying along with our family. Thank you for the tons of encouragement that you give to my wife which also means so much to me.
I hope that in some way our story is encouraging to you. I pray that you are inspired to seek out the good things that God planned for you long ago. If you haven’t already found what that is for you, I promise that it’s there. It probably won’t even require a cross country move. It might even be something in your own backyard. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is there…somewhere deep down inside of you.
A special plan.
A unique purpose.
You can start by whispering a simple prayer to God and ask Him to show you the plan and purpose he has for your life. Then get out there and just try a bunch of stuff. Give, serve, care, invest and somewhere you will find an unmistakable sweet spot and a group of like minded people you can lock arms with in the journey. Do me a favor, as you work to find the good thing that God has for you, share it with us! We’d love to be a part of your journey too.
Erica again 🙂 He’s pretty amazing huh!? I don’t know how I got so lucky with him choosing me, but I am forever grateful. Friends, I married up :). I am going to try to get him to post more often as he has such a voice and often can speak my heart much better than I. So, Indiana! A big move! Now you can see why I slowly have been processing with my GA Embellished Pillowcase and my Adventure Awaits Wall Art.
Thank you so much for walking through this journey with us!
I am so excited for your family. What a great piece Matt!!! I hope this move brings you so much happiness!
Thank you Jill!!! Don’t you think he should be a regular writer on here!? I do 🙂 XOXo
Lisa Thompson (@LisaJoyThompson) says
I am sooo excited to see how God has been moving in your life. I’ve lived reading your blog and getting a glimpse into your world and I’m really excited that you will be moving just 1 hour away from me. Praying for a great move and that your home will sell quickly!
Thank you Lisa!! Which direction are you!? Ha I could probably just look up your address cause I know I have it ;). Fort Wayne is where most people in Winona Lake go to “town”. Is that closer towards you? Thank you so much for faithfully following along! XOXo
amanda dement says
I am so excited for you my sweet friend. I miss chatting with you. I think of you often and see what a blessing you are to so many people in this world. I aspire to be like that. Many well wishes to you guys and what a wonderful piece written by your hubby
Oh thank you Amanda! I don’t think of myself like that…but I am honored you see my journey as so. I bet you would be surprised how many people ALREADY would say the same about you! Carry on sweet friend! You are doing a great work! XOXO
Proud of you both for listening and obeying! And you will LOVE Winona Lake! Growing up in the Midwest is fab!
Thank you so much Debi! We will miss our family and friends in ATL, but you know we will be back often to visit! I’m excited to hopefully find a slower pace of life and get some crazy wildlife…I want a pet duck 🙂
So happy to hear! Clearly, God’s precious plan for all of you…
Thank you so much!! XOXO
This is amazing, Erica! We lived in Winona Lake for 7 years before moving to Atlanta – Jay was 3 when we moved. In fact, I’m flying up in a few weeks to see the fam – what a small world!
So cool! It is a very special place indeed! Enjoy your trip!!! XOXO
Great post!!! Xoxo
Thanks sis 🙂 XOXO
Thanks so much for sharing this exciting news, Erica & Matt! I’m glad to know that God has some pretty awesome things ahead for you but can’t help but be a wee bit wishful since I was looking forward to getting to know you better at upcoming blogger events in the ATL area. Good luck on the big move and anticipating following along on your adventurous journey through your blog! Happy for you guys!!
Anastacia! YESSSS! I loved meeting you at Haven! Hopefully, we can both attend the next one so we can hang! Thank you for sweet words about following along! XOXO
Erin @ DIY on the Cheap says
I’m excited for your new adventure but of course I will miss you! Hopefully you will come back to visit often or we can meet up when I’m in Indiana visiting my family. I’ll be praying that everything works out and that your house sells easily for you!
You know I will miss you!! I will def be coming back often to visit…and yes we can meet up when you head that way too! We WILL stay in touch!! XOXO
Karen Bernstein Cooper Dogsdon'teatpizza says
I’m so happy for you, but will miss you so much! I wish you nothing but the very best in all things. I can’t wait to follow along on your journey!