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