Sometimes we feel God calling us to take on a lot more than we think we can bear. There have been times when all of us have felt the Holy Spirit prompting us to do something that might challenge us. However, we don’t always listen to the Spirit’s voice. Maybe we try to suppress it because even if we wanted to follow it, we can’t imagine how it could actually happen.
Now, imagine getting an unshakeable feeling that you had to quit your job and needed to leave the country to share the gospel. You had no connections outside of the U.S. and little experience with missions work, but you just had a feeling that you needed to go somewhere.
That’s the feeling Rick Peterson had in 2011 when he told his wife, Gaby, that he wanted to go to Yucatán, Mexico and start sharing the gospel. He shared some of his family’s journey at the Missions Luncheon, and I got to hear more of it when I connected later with he and his wife.
Rick shared that they had no idea what they were doing, but they reached out to potential connections in the Yucatán area. Though not much came out of the first trip, when they got home, Rick felt called to go back. Even though they didn’t have a building to meet in or a congregation to lead he couldn’t shake the feeling that his family belonged there. Gaby mentioned that even though she was uncertain about where they were supposed to go she kept telling herself, “If this is what the Lord wants, He’ll open doors.”
They went back for a second time and met with a couple they’d met on their first trip, George and Marlene. Although the Petersons never intended to meet George and Marlene the first time, this couple would change their lives. George introduced Rick to a friend of his who owned a piece of land with a building on it. George’s friend claimed that he kept seeing Rick’s face in a dream. He told Rick, “God told me to build this building and that you’re going to teach in it.” With that he handed Rick the keys to the building.
With a place to meet in, the Petersons could now move to the Yucatán, but Rick hesitated. The gravity of what was about to happen caught up to him. This move felt so disruptive to what he was used to. Rick was an operations Manager at a metal stamping company and he asked himself, “Am I really going to quit my job?” But with the support of his friends back home, he made the decision to move his family and teach in Yucatán. I asked him what convinced him that this was what he was supposed to do and he told me the Great Commission is what convinced him that this was necessary. “I felt a disconnect between what I saw in the Bible and what I did at church.” He said he saw a lot of people just going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, but they didn’t take the Great Commission seriously.
Even though Rick and Gaby believed they needed to move, the ministry took on a different form. The Peterson’s purchased two 52” tvs and connected their church in Mexico to wi-fi. Now every Friday, Rick teaches from home to the church community in Yucatán.
Currently, Rick is involved as a teacher and Gaby is one of his translators. Even though they are living in the U.S. Gaby explained how this missions work has changed their lives. She shared that the goals of her family are different now. She said, “We used to ask how can we retire sooner or how can we get more stuff? Now the question is, how can we use our time for ministry?”
When explaining how she balances this ministry with life at home she told me, “Sometimes the busyness of life is an obstacle. Sometimes you’re tired after work on a Friday and don’t want to teach, but there’s always an excuse not to serve.” I asked both of them what keeps them going when they’re tempted to give in to those obstacles? Both Rick and Gaby had a similar answer. Rick said that he’s constantly encouraged when he sees how hungry people are for the gospel. Gaby said, “I know that they’re learning.” People will approach her and thank her for her work because they had never heard the gospel presented like that.
Rick and Gaby felt an urge from the Holy Spirit to do something that seemed random and implausible. They were called to go to a place they knew nothing about, but they were willing to give it a shot. Through trust in the midst of uncertainty, they saw God move and meet their needs in ways they had never expected. Despite the initial uncertainty, Gaby says she enjoys stepping out of her comfort zone and, “Just getting to know and love people.”
Maybe we haven’t felt called to move to a different country, but the Holy Spirit may be encouraging you to take a step in faith. Whatever that call may be, the story of the Peterson’s shows that God gives us what we need to accomplish His will.
Written by: Robert Heckert