God's heart for you

elizabeth-tsung.jpg

When Jack and Laura arrived in Central Asia, they were open to the unknown as they entered two years of language learning and ministry-team building. It all began as they awaited the arrival of their firstborn son.

They gained their bearings. In the early stages of their transition, new sights, sounds and smells became more familiar. Jack and Laura* began to recognize neighborhood faces on frequently-traveled streets that lead to and from home. This was their life, their new normal. Then, they suffered a miscarriage.

In the months that followed, Laura’s hope spiraled downward. “I felt like the only person I had here was [Jack]. My [language] wasn’t there yet. We didn’t know our team leaders well before we came.” She said she wondered in those moments if God even cared about her.

In her darkest hours, Jack spoke truth of the Lord’s promises and character to her. “He never thought less of me and we became closer through it,” she said.

Months later, the couple was ecstatic to learn they were pregnant with their daughter. She was born in October 2017 and they gave her a name which means, ‘life.’

Shortly after she was born, amidst the excitement and the praise for their new joy, Jack began to feel increasing loneliness. The thoughts and feelings which brought him lower came and went but he said the way he felt in their second year of living in this country was significantly worse than their first.

The ever-present reminder that Jack was not in a culture or language he knew, with few friends other than his family, was paired with emotional wounds from his childhood he did not realize would affect him. 

“It’s hard remembering you do have a purpose when the day is menial or tedious,” he said. There were moments he could emotionally engage and be mentally present but then other times he simply could not.

Then, in a conversation with a friend, the couple was reminded of something they were told many months before.

The Lord brought you here not just for Central Asians. He brought you here to draw your heart closer to Him as well.

The trials which bring growth and perseverance only continue and at times are more stressful when living in a completely different context. Hearing friends’ and family’s encouragement from the States filled the couple with hope. Wisdom and love shared from near and far helped Jack and Laura to press through severe struggles, doubts and bouts of loneliness.

Through The GO Fund’s Ropeholder Event, after conversing with friends about who the unreached are and about the unfinished task, participants will have the opportunity to learn ways they can specifically pray for partners like Jack and Laura. Then, they can record themselves as a group and send videos of encouragement to the field workers they prayed for. 

It’s an event that not only brings you closer to understanding God’s heart for the nations, but also his heart for those who have gone out to them.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:4-8

Jack and Laura are now finished with their intensive language program and they continue to grow in their understanding of Central Asian culture. Jack has been working through parts of his past that need healing. Their family joyfully pursues ministry opportunities and have seen the Lord consistently bring people into their path who are seeking truth. They are also expecting the birth of their second child in November.


*Names changed for security

God's Talk in the Jungle

2.jpg

A few days’ hike from the nearest city, through Papua New Guinea’s dense, lush forest lies the remote village of the Maliyali tribe.

For decades, the Maliyali chief mailed letter after letter, begging for missionaries to come and share “God’s Talk” with them. They knew there may be a God who is real, who loves and cares for them, but they did not know the story. They had no knowledge of the intimate details of who God is, what he does and how he chose to redeem them.

After a time, their letters shifted from, “Please send someone,” to “Have we been forgotten?”

In California, David and Emily knew they were called to go to where the Gospel was not yet preached. They partnered with an agency that is focused on Biblical translation and church planting. David and Emily were presented with the Maliyali, a people desperate for the story they were so ready to give.

For two years, they prepared to be uprooted. They sold all their belongings. They raised personal support to cover the expenses to move and build a new home. The one, insurmountable weight they could not lift— thousands of dollars in student debt.

6.jpg

David has a degree in theology and is geared with the skillset necessary to translate scripture into a language that has never been written. Emily's degree is in kinesiology and she is trained to give others physical care and advanced knowledge that provides healing. Both were tied and bound to future decades of loan repayment. The tribe’s future was still uncertain.

Through The GO Fund Champions, God prepared a way for David, Emily and their two children to build a home among these people. They were the first family accepted as partners of The GO Fund and they are there now, sharing God’s Talk with their new family.

8.jpg

Their new way of living comes at a cost. Emily has wrestled with debilitating stomach pains intermittently during their time. Their young daughter has suffered on-and-off again with different viruses and illnesses. The family was recently taken from their jungle home to the closest medical clinic when she was unable to shake a fever after several days.

4.jpg

The life they are finally able to lead is not a glamorous one, nor easy or popular. It comes with pain and uncertainty. However, they have experienced great joys and triumphs as well.

“As we cling to the Lord for strength and stability we are reminded of three truths,” They said. “One, that through hardship, trial and suffering the Lord is forging in us a resolve to be completely dependent on Him. Two, our hope is set on a Father who not only loves us but in His loving faithfulness has, time and time again, shown Himself in the past to be faithful enough to be trust yet again with our future! Three, furthermore, in His great goodness He allows us to be interwoven with a community of brother and sisters. You all, although distant, through your prayers, He provides us with those seen and unseen blessings that are in the accompaniment of our trials.”

3.jpg

For the tribe they have come to know and love? For them, there is no more waiting. There are no more unanswered letters – only God speaking through his servants as he calls many more into his kingdom.

7.jpg
5.jpg
9.jpg

Recommitted: A Life of Purpose

slavik3.jpg

As a young girl, Kaitlyn wanted to become either a marine biologist or an astronaut. Drawn to various sciences and to how things work, she wanted to be either far above the atmosphere or dive far below the oceans’ surface.*

As she grew older, she was prompted by family to earn a degree in early childhood studies. Perhaps she could teach the things she was passionate about to the younger generation.

Throughout her upbringing, Kaitlyn knew she was supposed to regularly attend church services and pray before meals and bed. However, faith never seemed like a priority worth pursuing. It was in her second year of university when she began to realize there may be more to who Jesus is than what she had grown to accept.

“It was a time in college when I realized that my friends weren’t really nice friends,” Kaitlyn said. “I was kind of depressed. I didn’t know the purpose of my life and was trying to find it out.”

She was invited by a college roommate to attend a church in the area near her school and she eagerly joined. When she heard the pastor’s words, it was as if what was once confused and hazy about scripture and the Christian faith was finally made clear. “I was hearing the Word and learning more about who God is and who Jesus really is. I never knew what it was to have a relationship with him,” she said.

Kaitlyn recommitted her life to Christ, and she knew the Lord was instilling in her a desire to share this newfound relationship and love with others. Full of refreshed perspective and curiosity for God’s work around the world, she became invested in groups of friends at her church who taught her about unreached people groups. The more she learned, the more her heart broke.

She joined a short-term missions trip to Southeast Asia. Her church has adopted a country in this region as their focused, un-reached nation to pray for, so they might one day see a church-planting movement happen.

Kaitlyn arrived with her team and she witnessed the reality of the darkness among the unreached. Idol worship, the kind she had only heard of in stories and film, is rampant. She observed real and raw devotion to statues and parents teaching their children how to bow down to golden, man-made forms of what they thought could save them.

“I couldn’t forget them,” she said. “I was meeting people who had never heard of Jesus before. I had never experienced that … They had never heard his name.”

Kaitlyn came home and knew she would return but it would be to live there in full-time ministry.

Everything had come together. Her purpose rested in her position as a follower of Christ. Her passion became to show others who had never heard his name a relationship they could also experience. Only one obstacle stood in the way between her and her new goal.

Student debt she accrued was being paid slowly thanks to her position as a preschool teacher. However, it would keep her from determining when she could join the team who planned to move with her to Southeast Asia.

I couldn’t forget them, I was meeting people who had never heard of Jesus before. I had never experienced that. They had never heard his name.

A supervisor at her church encouraged her to apply with The GO Fund.

Nervous and skeptical, Kaitlyn still applied. She interviewed and then was joyously accepted into The GO Fund’s Student Debt Repayment Program. “This weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that I have nothing keeping me from going tomorrow,” she said.

Kaitlyn expects to leave for Southeast Asia later this year. She looks forward to making disciples of this people group she has come to love — people who will hear the name of Jesus for the first time. She is excited to be a part of a church-planting movement that might not take her far above the earth’s atmosphere or below the ocean waves, but it is certainly taking her closer to a purpose the Lord is using to bring many more into his kingdom.

slavik2.jpg

*Name changed for security.

Hopelessness Exposed - Suicide in Japan

blogpost.jpg

Before Ben knew when or how he would begin a ministry in Japan, before he knew he would be married to Grace* and prepare to live their life overseas, he was aware and burdened by a number. Every 15 minutes, someone in Japan commits suicide.

The Japan Times and Japan Today both reported the same numbers in 2009. An editorial written in The Japan Times states, “This suicide rate, compiled by the National Police Agency, means that more than 30,000 suicides occur every year, a third of a million people in a decade … It is a clear indication of serious social and psychological problems that deserve immediate, sympathetic and effective solutions.”

The tragic reality that thousands of Japanese are left feeling without purpose or a will to live is paired with another statistic that sheds harsh light on a lack of response. According to The Joshua Project, 3.1 billion individuals are unreached by the Gospel. In Japan, there are 123 million unreached people - Four percent of the world’s unreached people are in Japan.

From a young age, this information developed in Ben a desire to share the Gospel with the Japanese and show them how much they are loved and valued by their savior.

He and Grace met while earning their bachelor’s degrees and the two connected over their love for people. As they continued dating, Grace realized her heart was being specifically softened and burdened for the people of Japan. 

How would they get there? When would they know they would be ready? What could they do to help reach Japan’s lost?

“In Japan, you need to have education,” Ben said. “A Bachelors is basically a high school diploma.”

Their vision is to come alongside established churches and missionaries in the country and give them support they need. Eventually, they want to see a Japanese church planted and somehow incorporate a mental health and wellness program that promotes suicide awareness and prevention.

They want to bring psychologists, doctors and counselors into the work that needs to be done so they can see a generation of Japanese healed in a holistic way.

A halting weight they could not escape was their student loan debt from the degrees they need to be truly effective in Japan. By their estimation, it would take them eight years to pay off the debt that holds them from going.

One night, Ben stumbled across The GO Fund’s website. He thought, “there is no way this can be real.”

He and Grace did apply with The GO Fund’s student debt repayment program and were contacted one week after pushing the ‘send’ button. Program Director, Matt Sonke, greeted them over the phone and dispelled their doubts. Yes, the Lord is using a generous group of believers, Champions, to lift their barrier.

“It was further confirmation of our plans,” Ben said. “It solidified our calling in a way. We thought, ‘God wants us to go sooner than it would take to pay off our debt.’”

The couple is finally there and it's thanks to you, our Champions. Champions give their talent, time and treasure to The GO Fund and it allows this family to reach Japan, completely unhindered to love on a people who desperately need to know their own value.


*Names changed for security

In the 11th Hour

rob-bye.jpg

Rebecca remembers every detail of the room she was in when they heard the news. She and her husband sat on a couch in a temporary living space they were sharing with other families also being trained by their missions agency. Their list of belongings was downsized and their lives were in transition. Then, they got the call.*

“You no longer need to worry about your student loan debt, you are GO Fund partners.”

It was as if the couple had been anxiously watching a timer count down the seconds up until this moment, and they could finally see what the Lord was doing for a long, uncertain season. One month later, they boarded their plane to leave the U.S. indefinitely.

Years prior, the two met when they were both studying for their Master’s Degrees in Wheaton, Illinois. Rebecca was earning hers with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language while her husband, James, was studying overseas ministry work.

They knew as they dated, when they were engaged and in their marriage that they were being led to move their lives to the unreached people groups of East Asia. Because of the heightened-security climate in the country they were being lead to, they were eager to use their degrees. “People will definitely ask, ’What are you doing here?’ And it would be a lot easier if we could say, ‘we’re teachers,’” Rebecca said. “You need a reason to be there.”

While confident their degrees would legitimize their visas in East Asia, they realized this bound them to several years of monthly payments. It is a burden that would wear down the limited finances they needed to thrive overseas. They knew it would be unwise to leave with the weight.

So, they asked, When? How will we be obedient?

The couple chipped away the total little by little, but the time and money it would take to completely rid themselves of the debt would take years. “People rallied behind us and gave a lot to pay it off,” Rebecca said. “We still had a lot and what we’d be making month to month overseas wouldn’t be a lot.”

Then, a friend told them about an organization that pays off the student loan debt of missionaries going to unreached people groups, The GO Fund. They did not want their hopes to climb only to be rejected but they still applied, trusting the Lord would care for their needs in his timing.

They simultaneously walked through an application process with their sending agency, and when they finished their last interview, one month away from being sent overseas, they were called and told they were going to be freed of their student loan debt.

“It was literally perfect timing. In the midst of our disappointments, God was working to make things work on his plan and timing,” James said.

One year after the family arrived in east Asia, the government implemented “Evaluation Criteria” for foreign workers. Any foreigners working in the country are now categorized by a points system. There are three categories – A, B, and C-level workers. You are more likely to be given a work visa status based on the category in which you are placed. The best way to gain points? Higher-level education.

“In hindsight, thinking about everything the Lord planned out for us to get to this place is just mind-blowing to us,” James said.

The couple are now in their second year of language acquisition and they welcomed their first child in July. Their next step is to seek university-level teaching positions in their city. They have already begun to respond to opportunities laid before them to share the gospel with neighbors.

Every conversation and interaction are embraced with the joy of knowing the Lord’s perfect timing provided how, where and when they were supposed to be.


*Names have been changed for security

faithfulness in singleness

20180323EG0153.jpg

It’s a question she continues to wrestle with as she strives for contentment in a phase of life that remains uncertain – “Will I still be single in the next few years?”

Living in her new African home with her team was merely a dream and prayer for Mary* a little more than a year ago. Now, two months after her arrival, she can look back at the long and exhausting journey that brought her to this point in her ministry. It took years of praying, seeking the Lord’s open doors, training, and waiting.

However, as her new normal begins to settle and daily routines slowly but surely become reality, a restlessness seeks to consume her thoughts in quiet moments.

While Mary hopes to be married, her first desire is to obey the Lord’s leading whenever he tells her to move. This meant that instead of waiting in the comfort of her own culture and language, she remains hopeful while wading through the difficulties of preparing for long-term ministry. “I think that’s something the Lord is teaching me to place in his hands. I’m prayerfully waiting on it,” Mary said. “It has remained consistently the thing that causes anxiety, worry, fear.”

The concern for what’s next and balancing our desires with seeking the Lord’s will has been the struggle of every age and every stage of life. It’s a human pain caused by anticipating something while trying to hold loosely the gifts that may never come – Abraham and Sarah waited for a child and didn’t expect it by the time the Lord blessed them with one (Genesis 18). Jacob waited seven years for Rachel, then worked another seven years to earn her (Genesis 29). Simeon was promised an introduction to the Lord’s Messiah before his death but waited several years before Mary and Joseph walked with baby Jesus into the temple (Luke 2).

While every desire and each persons’ ‘wait’ is different and to be considered from an individual perspective, there are a few things that hold true for everyone who understands what it means to hopefully wait on the Lord.

Your feelings are true, real and valid and the Lord wants to meet you there.

The Psalms overflow with lines of lament, confusion, mourning and questions for direction. We can resonate with brothers and sisters whose stories in scripture reveal similar hurts from patiently waiting.

“I do think the Lord has really met me,” Mary said. “I think in all of that, I have experienced his comfort and his grace. I think I’ve experienced extra measures of his grace through teammates, people from home, and locals.”

There are things you can do in this season you cannot if you get what you asked for.

Whether it be in ministry, your personal circumstances or any area of influence in your life, when the Lord says “yes” to what you have been asking for, things will change forever. Specifically in singleness and ministry, there are opportunities single men and women can take that are more difficult for those who are married. This is how these phases of life are intended and it is good but cherish the things that will change when that next phase comes.

There is purpose and intention in this waiting and it is never wasted.

While the Lord understands and empathizes with our hurts, desires and waiting, he is never surprised by our current position. However long or short it may be, the Lord is using the period of time his children sit in waiting to produce a trust, faithfulness and perseverance.

As Mary contemplates the ways in which God prepared her to be in this place and she peers into the near future when she will see him transform lives with the Gospel, she points to his faithfulness and provision.

“Above all, I am a beloved child of God. That’s what my identity is rooted in,” Mary said. “It’s a privilege and honor to serve with the lost here … Our Father is the one who provides and sustains. To cultivate faithfulness doesn’t come naturally to us as human beings. I think that’s something I’ve been encouraged in. Whatever that ends up looking like, I’m going to strive to cultivate faithfulness.”


*Name changed for security

Finding Normal

20180321EG0095.jpg

Air conditioning in 100 degree weather? Too expensive and fans work fine. Government documents you turned in on time with the proper notarization? But you forgot the under-the-table bribe. Portable hand sanitizer – what’s that? That was an earthquake! No, somewhere a cow just moved its horns. When faced with the reality that our cultural biases are no longer “the norm,” what happens to us?

For *Ethan, Charlotte and their three kids, the transition into their new normal has taken difficult turns.

“The hardest thing has been the culture stress,” Ethan said as he thought back over the one year he has lived in their African country. “Living (here) is so different than the West. It’s a big thing that’s kind of put a damper on our family and our marriage. It’s a strain.”

Culture stress transforms necessary, daily rituals and errands into catalysts of crippling anxiety. To leave the house and buy food for the family or wait in line at the bank become moments of dread (if forming a line is even culturally acknowledged).

Learning the language of the people you live among is step number one out of stress – learn the language to know the people and adapt to their culture. However, hope begins to fade after one year of study, when the foreign dialect seems too difficult to master and there are more plateaus in growth than conquered mountains.

For Charlotte and Ethan, it took years to even get to this point in their ministry. When they were first married in 2010, they applied with an agency that would send them overseas to work with unreached people. “We knew from the get-go we wanted to go overseas, but it was a long journey,” Charlotte said.

It took seven years for them to finally arrive at their new home and the road was filled with hurts and doubt. In 2017, after the births of their three children, the unexpected passing of a loved one and several months of holds placed on their application, they were ready to be sent. They were trained by their agency and their student loan debt was lifted by The GO Fund’s student loan repayment program.  

Charlotte attributes every trial and test to the Lord’s faithfulness in their lives. “I see God’s hand of protection over us, protection from ourselves. I don’t think our faith was ready or where it needed to be to make that life change.”

Now, looking at the trials before them and remembering the journey behind, they focus on the one who redeems every struggle.

“This whole thing is about waiting,” Ethan said. “We’ve definitely grown our trust in God, to realize that he’s faithful – it’s a part of his character. It’s something about him that will not change.”

In the difficulty of language study, Charlotte has seen through cultural barriers and observes her language instructor’s relationship with the Lord. “Learning from their example has been a huge blessing. How can we work together to see the kingdom expanded?” Charlotte said. “I’ve been seeing my weaknesses in terms of giving and hospitality at times too. The culture’s so different here – to see things taken care of the way they know how, it has been a huge encouragement.”

Finding the “new normal” and adapting is never easy. It’s one of the many trials after passing through the barriers which precede the move overseas.

Through it all, Christ and his gospel prove to be more valuable. The task to share with those who have never heard his name is more imperative than the demands of our anxieties and culture stress. So, Ethan and Charlotte’s family pushes through. While culture, languages and daily routines shift and morph around them, they hold fast to the one whose faithfulness and compassion forever remains steadfast.


*Names changed for security

find the open door

Egypt2.jpg

At four o’clock in the morning, Sam and Emma* are awakened by the sound of a loud and melodic string of verses that shout from the mosque’s PA system and weave their way through their city’s streets. The Islamic Adhan, or call to prayer, is the couple’s constant reminder of the darkness in which they live.

The first time Sam and Emma moved to North Africa, it was only for a two-year trial period. They wanted to see if the Lord would affirm what they felt in their hearts to be a call to the lost men and women of Islam.

At the end of their term they were nearly fluent in Arabic. They established a language center where locals could learn English from westerners. They hosted a regular fellowship meeting in their home which was on the cusp of becoming a church-plant. They saw a handful of friends choose to turn from Islam and follow Christ. They knew where they belonged.

They rejoiced and knew the Lord led them to this place and that he wanted to use them in great ways. Yet, never far from their mind was a darkened cloud that hung low over their celebration.

Student loan debt they both owed was enough to keep them tethered to the United States for several years. They knew it would mean a pause or even a halt on everything that had grown in their North African city.

They knew where they belonged.

Sam and Emma returned to the United States with a plan to move back after one year. Several months passed as they searched for additional, financial support and they wondered how the Lord would show them an open door. They knew their God-given passion, found the opportunity to serve, but couldn't find a way to bring the pieces into one cohesive puzzle. That's when they stumbled upon The GO Fund.

They applied with the organization’s student loan repayment program and were invited into the initial interview phase. Then, they were asked to attend a partner-selection committee where they would present their ministry to a panel of GO Fund investors.

In their interview, their leveled, wise and thought-through strategy to reach their community resonated with those in the room. Their educated and passionate focus on the people of their city radiated. They shared how they pray for a movement among the Arabic world and that they believe this location could be the epicenter.

Three days later, they were told they had been accepted as partners.

Sam and Emma could finally rest in the assurance that the Lord had brought them to this specific place. They have since been able to joyously flourish and so has their ministry.

Sam and Emma continue to expand their Arabic vocabulary. People continue to come to them for English lessons. A church is growing. Men and women are coming to know and worship the true God. Their family is established, and their cloud is gone. All that remains is joy as they continue to see God work in the hearts of the people he has shaped them to love.


*Names have been changed for security.