Five Short Years – A Celebration of God’s Faithfulness

On Monday 3rd April 2017, I boarded a plane with two suitcases and a one-way ticket to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or what life would look like on the other side, I just knew in my spirit that that was the next step God had asked me to take. For years, God had been preparing to take me overseas, and for months He had been stirring my heart for church-planting in Germany. This conclusion came as much as a surprise to me as it did to others at the time, yet I was determined to be obedient.

That first year was lonely. It was full of fearful moments due to insufficient finances and a lack of direction (I recall sharing some of those moments in previous blogposts, Um, Where’s my Miracle? and Um, Where’s my Miracle? (Part 2): The Overflow). It was a year that deepened my relationship with and dependence on the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to guide me and comfort me; I learned to lean on Him in a way I had never even come close to before. As I focused on learning the language, that year also gave me the gift of time, one I used to write Adventure Awaits. And yet, amidst all the uncertainty and daily challenges, the peace and pure joy within me urged me forwards; it was truly a peace that surpassed all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

As the second year began, I entered a full-time job in a local international school, providing me with a little more stability and direction for the coming season. I knew from the beginning that it was to be a short-term appointment (that was, of course, not why God had taken me to Germany) but with the new job came a new apartment, and consequently led me to New Life Church; a church with a heart for planting and multiplication.

As I celebrated my third anniversary in Germany, I was settled in a job I enjoyed, progressing steadily in the language, and had found family within New Life Church. There, too, doors of opportunity began to open, with invitations to participate in church services, to be a fly-on-the-wall in Pastor meetings, and to join the small leadership team within the Frankfurt Campus. Finally, after three years, I began to see the first glimpses of what God had called me to Germany for.

By the time I celebrated four years in Germany, I was honoured to have been invited onto the Pastoral team in Frankfurt and reduced my hours at school to make further room for the calling on my life. Those lessons of dependence on the Holy Spirit that I had learnt in the first year buoyed me up and urged me forward as I took more steps of faith, but this time with a more confident stride. I had seen God do it before; wouldn’t He do it again?

In the months since then, I have stepped out of my school job altogether and live in faith, depending on God to meet my needs (and He does; every single time). I co-lead the Frankfurt Campus with the Campus Pastor and we plan – God-willing – to plant a Cafe Church in Frankfurt in the next 1-2 years. I am also embarking on theological study at the German Bible School I stayed at during my very first visit to Germany in July 2016. Little did I know that God was already laying the foundation in my heart for something unexpected much further down the road.

On Sunday 3rd April 2022 I will celebrate five years since I moved to Germany; five years of God’s faithfulness, fulfilling exactly what He said He would. For so many months, back in those first years, I felt utterly lost in Germany. Why was I here? How could I – a woman, a foreigner, a non-German speaker, someone with exceptionally little church-planting experience, and no formal theological training – possibly do what God had called me here to do? What would the path look like? How would I get there? I had no clue where to even begin!

I couldn’t see in that first year that God had a work to do in me before He was ready to do a work through me.

I didn’t understand in that second year that God wanted me to simply enjoy the friends, the job, the church He had provided for me as I grew in confidence in speaking and ministering in the German language.

I couldn’t have dreamed of the opportunities that began to open up for me in that third year, when I still felt so useless, inexperienced, and my language lacked fluency. But God called me forward once again, despite my inadequacies.

I marvelled at the acceleration of my language ability in that fourth year – one that could only have been gifted to me. But time after time, as I stepped out in courage and faith, I saw God multiply the loaves and fish I humbly offered Him.

I celebrate what God has done these last twelve months in me and through me. I celebrate the journey He has taken me on; His faithfulness in guiding me step by step, knowing exactly what He was doing. He never forgot about me, or missed a step, or messed up the plan, or unintentionally delayed me, or failed to equip me for what He had asked me to do. He was there. He was faithful. He saw the bigger picture.

I can’t quite believe I have called this place home for the past five years. I am astounded at what God has done in that time and how He has led me forward, one step at a time. At countless points along the journey, I couldn’t see the progress; I often failed to see (or believe!) the bigger picture. But I reflect back on these fives years and see threads of His guidance, His provision, His grace everywhere. These five years do not represent one big step; these fives years were countless small, consecutive steps of obedience, of courage, of faith.

What step of obedience can you take today? You never know where it might lead.

Thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness! Thank you, that You see the bigger picture when we so often barely even see the step ahead of us. Help us to see with eyes of faith, not fear. Help us to trust You when nothing makes sense. Help us to be obedient when fear tells us to turn away. We believe that with You nothing is impossible; I pray that we would not only know that in our hearts, but believe it, too, in our hearts. Amen.

Read more here about how you can partner with the work I am involved with in Germany.

A Dream Come True

On 15th June 2020 I witnessed a dream become reality; I held my first published book, Adventure Awaits, in my hands and awed at the journey that had led me to that moment. Yes, my life journey – all the experiences, lessons, hurts, and breakthroughs – had paved the way for the content of the book, but the publication journey – all three years of it – had also reminded me of God’s faithfulness and His ability to do the impossible with a surrendered heart.

For years I had quietly held the dream of writing a book. It was a dream that was rarely voiced, rather simply penciled silently in my journal, weaved amongst my thoughts and reflections. Though I never believed it to be an impossible dream, I always assumed it might be realised much later in life; once I had lived a few more decades and my fiery red hair had long-since faded. In 2014, when I spent time in New York City working with under-privileged children in the projects of The Bronx, I began sharing my experiences via my blog. I used it as an easy and efficient way to communicate with friends back home, but as the weeks went on, the reach and response to my writing grew. And my dream swelled in my heart.

Then in spring 2017, just weeks after moving to Germany, God used two friends to confirm what He had already been saying to me: now was the time to write a book. He was right (I mean, He always is, but even I could see it now); in this season, as I spent my mornings in language school learning German, and with few other established commitments in my new home country, I had the gift of time.

But how does one go about writing a book? I had no idea. I knew no-one in the publishing industry, yet my conviction was clear. So I asked God to be my teacher. I asked Him how to write a book; what initial steps I should take, what I needed to consider, what themes I should write about. And just like He does in every other area of our lives, God led me every step of the way. He even drew my attention to a specific Christian publisher whom, at that time, had just published the first book of someone I greatly admire.

Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably already know what happened next: I ran out of money. Yep, having moved my life to Germany, my funds dried up and I began to look for a job to supplement my living expenses while I was learning the German language. But the thing was, God told me not to. “Em, what?” I hear you ask. Believe me, I know. I asked that too. But God repeatedly said no. Except… I had no money. So, I did it anyway…

I’m gonna skip the gnarly details of that particularly challenging few weeks as I wrestled with God over financial provision in my life, but you can read about them here, if you wish: Um, Where’s my Miracle?, Um, Where’s my Miracle? (Part 2): The Overflow, and Facing the Flame.

And so I had finally found a German-competency-appropriate job for myself, to then be told six weeks later that there was a problem with my insurance documents and I wasn’t permitted to work until that issue was resolved. For about a month I stressed over it and tried everything I could to get myself back to work, until I eventually stopped and asked myself, “what was the last thing God told me to do?” Write. Right?

So, after weeks of working and/ or frantically pushing papers around, I returned to what God had asked me to do (long before He had told me not to look for a job). And you know what happened? That week, that first week back to writing – back doing what God had asked me to do – having stepped back into obedience, God provided me with more than the equivalent of two months wages, in just one week!

Well, let me tell you, that was one of the biggest lessons of my adult life right there: be obedient. No matter what He asks you to do (or not do), no matter whether it makes sense to you or not (I mean, how was I supposed to earn money by writing on my laptop from home?), no matter how challenging or seemingly impossible the circumstances look around you, be obedient to what God asks you to do.

From that moment on, I knew God really was behind this book, so I pressed forwards. I finished the first draft in December 2017 and proceeded to submit it to six or seven publishers, including the one that God had drawn my attention to months earlier. But one by one, they all said no. Then a couple months later, I began working full-time at an international school and my manuscript was pushed aside.

After a while, I began to think that maybe the drafting of my first manuscript had just been a practice-run for future books. I knew I had been obedient to God, but perhaps the end result wouldn’t look the way I had expected it to. Quite honestly, I was glad that it had not been made public because I held much fear of being so vulnerable. Yet God kept prodding at my heart and challenging my fear. Then, in spring 2019, God spoke to me as I drove home from work one day, and He said very clearly that my fear – that is, my fear to publish – was stealing the breakthrough that He wanted to bring about in others through my writing. The problem was, I could not overcome my fear myself.

God’s words danced around my mind in the days that followed, but it was easier to ignore them than to begin to deal with the fear that was holding me back. About six weeks later, I found myself in my car with two friends. During a lapse in conversation, one asked, “Jane, are you writing a book?” Stunned silence followed. How did he know? I hadn’t told him. He questioned why I had not published yet and repeated word-for-word that which God had spoken to me less than two months earlier: your fear is stealing the breakthrough from others. I knew, then, that it was time to resurrect my draft and pursue publishing once again.

I spent that summer re-reading, editing, updating and re-writing my manuscript. Meanwhile, God worked on my heart. Only then, with an updated manuscript and a healed heart, was I ready to publish. And at the end of that busy summer period, I submitted my book to just one publisher – that which God had drawn my attention to at the beginning of this journey. That submission took an entire Saturday to prepare – about 6 hours – so I prayed and told God that preparing and submitting numerous book proposals was not realistic while working full-time as a teacher and continuing to serve in leadership in church. I asked Him to make my efforts fruitful. And did He? Well, of course He did!

Though that one publisher rejected my manuscript a second time, their reply directed me towards a smaller publishing house, about whom they had heard positive reviews. That small publishing house was Sacristy Press, and they said yes to publishing my manuscript. Three years, several detours, and multiple lessons later, I held the reality of my dream in my hand, and I watched God demonstrate His faithfulness every step of the way.

My book, Adventure Awaits, is ultimately a self-fulfilling prophesy, in that it seeks to encourage and inspire the reader to recall those once-longed-for, long-since-dismissed dreams and to believe for them again. It describes a faith adventure that is readily available to all those who surrender their lives to God’s will and act in obedience to His word, being sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This life of ours is not just about enjoying ourselves or ‘finding’ ourselves. This life of ours is a gift, and is to be treated so; it is an opportunity to become intimately acquainted with our Creator, and permit Him to be known and glorified through our lives (2 Thessalonians 1). God gifts us life, with all its ups and downs, to teach us, to purify us, to mould us into a better likeness of Christ (Romans 8). The extent to which God can do that is up to us and how much permission we give Him to do that in our lives. But if we are willing – if we truly allow Him to weed out the ugly parts of us and shape us into earthly reflections of heaven – He promises to take us on a wild ride, beyond anything we could fathom ourselves (Ephesians 3:20). Are you ready? Because adventure awaits.


Ready to order your copy of Adventure Awaits? Find out more here.