It was little less than a year ago when God first placed East London on our hearts. Neither of us had ever been there or even knew exactly where it was. It was during a particularly trying time that I was quietly praying for direction and leading for us as a family when I got a significant urge to look into the small city on the East Coast. East London fell into my heart and a gentle nagging stayed with me for the remainder of the day. By the time evening came, I knew that being obedient to God meant telling Phil what the Holy Spirit had been doing. The conversation that night went something like… ‘maybe we’re moving or perhaps we just need a holiday, it is possible that we need to do nothing more than pray for these people, all this considered and whatever it may mean… I feel God is giving us East London’.
Phil looked at me as though I was delusional – I thought I was a little crazy myself. How could we possibly consider moving our entire family across the country, to a place that neither of us had ever mentioned or thought about, when everything we knew and everything we did was in Joburg.
There is something really special about being in this place with God, knowing that He has given you something, but not yet knowing the fullness of all that He is about to do or how He is going to do it. Knowing that He is in control and being able to fully trust His leading. That night and for the weeks that followed we prayed into whatever it was that God held for us. Like children, we opened our hearts even though our minds did not believe it could be true. And we waited…
Then months went by and we forgot. We felt confident in the fact that we had somehow been open to such a deranged idea, that we had been completely willing to go if God said go. And we felt that maybe that was all it was – an exercise of faith. Perhaps it was just about us being willing, perhaps it was just for us to know that God was working.
A few short months later the unthinkable happened. Friends of ours were (unknowingly) tying things up in Joburg and preparing to move across the country to take over a small church. They too had been praying (at the same time I had), praying for friends to join them, for families to come alongside them. And God placed us on their hearts. They very bravely asked us if we would consider joining them… they were going to East London.
The absurdity of it all was far too great to ignore. God was very clearly working something out and we couldn’t help but to book a couple of tickets and go see what East London was all about.
We arrived in a rainy and rather cold Eastern Cape one September morning last year and spent the weekend looking at as much as we possibly could. We visited schools, scouted shops and surveyed many pieces of land. God spoke to us in very personal ways over the weekend and while it was a beautiful time away, by the end of it we were all feeling a little overwhelmed and very much like Joburg was still where we belonged. Finally, before jumping back on our plane to come home, we visited the church that we would be joining.
And everything changed.
That Sunday morning we knew without a doubt that we had found OUR CHURCH. I knew that God would use us in this place and that here, we would have great opportunity to be a part of His story. I could almost see life in that church unfolding before my eyes, and it was joyful and peaceful and surrounded by people that we cherished. On that morning, we found our home – it just so happened to be in East London.
The months that have followed that September weekend have been met with much anticipation and excitement from our side, but also with a great deal of support from those around us. Watching our girls pray into the move as we’ve had to take the necessary steps toward leaving has been incredibly special. Watching God work in their hearts as they have opened themselves up to His will is something that I have treasured greatly. I had such faith that our girls would feel SENT and not TAKEN as we moved them from everything they have ever known as home. And God has been so incredibly faithful in that.
We are so excited to make the East Coast our home, to love the people there and to enjoy lengthy stays from those we leave behind. I am somewhat grateful to be leaving the fast pace of the city and to embrace ‘country living’, though there are definitely some uncertainties surrounding this aspect of living as well. I am beyond excited to call the ocean our back yard, to make it part of the lifestyle we live and to share it with those we love. I am in awe that we get to go on this amazing adventure together as a family and ultimately that we get to be in all that God has set before us.