One of the great privileges we have as Jesus followers is that in all that we do we know that we are never alone; we are simply disciples who are trying to follow the Father's voice into all that He has for us. Janet and I have talked before about our desire to always listen and walk in obedience and we love that as a family this is how we journey together.
Sometimes in that process of listening we hear God say things that are unexpected and to be honest, sometimes He says things that we’d rather not have heard.
On a retreat around March time, Dan Henderson and I (Neil) were in a gathering with some leaders from around the country in Newcastle. Dan, as many of you know, has been such a valuable part of our staff team over the past number of years and has led our Encounter School of Mission with such wisdom throughout that time.
During this retreat, I was praying about CCV and listening to hear what God might say. At one point during that time I looked over at Dan and I felt the Lord tell me that we had to be prepared to let Dan go, that he and his wife Kathleen wouldn’t be here forever. I prayed again just in case I was hearing wrong but I knew this was the Lord. I didn’t talk to Dan regarding what I’d heard but Janet and I held it in our hearts.
What we didn’t realise was that Dan and Kathleen had been hearing the Lord speak as well. I'll let Dan tell it in his own words.
"Earlier this year around January time God began speaking to us as a family about moving to America. The best way to describe this process is like following the breadcrumbs, little nudges and whispers that God was up to something. Honestly before this it was not really on our radar. Kathleen’s family is of course from there and it would be great to be closer to them, but it was never something we seriously considered. However, God began to speak through some people that we love and trust along with lots words from unlikely places and people that seemed to confirmed a growing sense that He was calling us again. My greatest challenge was it didn’t really make any sense as we were living such a great life here and were part of an incredible community. But we sensed God was inviting us to risk it all again."
Before Dan and Kathleen left for a family holiday back to the US in June, we talked about what he had been hearing. He was pretty sure it was God but wanted to take this trip as a time to discern and be sure. At that point I shared what I felt God had told me as well and although we had no idea of time frame or any other details we sensed this was the Lord. Moments like this are sad and exciting at the same time.
So they set off for the states and planned a two-day trip down to California simply to land their feet on the ground, visit some friends and see if this was where God might be calling them. While they were there they both knew it felt significant even though they still had no sense of what it was for or what it looked like. They hadn’t discussed any real possibility of moving there with anyone while they visited.
When they returned, Dan and I processed the trip and we felt it was confirmed that God was indeed calling them. There still was no location or time frame but we felt it could be within the next year or maybe even two.
At that point, I asked Dan if he wanted me to reach out to Alan and Kathryn Scott at Vineyard Anaheim. We wanted them to know there was a possibility of Dan and Kathleen coming to the states and Janet and I wanted to be sure that they would be planted in a community where they could flourish. Within a few hours of contacting Alan and Kathryn, they called us and told us there was a job that they thought Dan and Kathleen would be perfect for. The only challenge is that the job started this autumn.
We, of course, encouraged Alan and Kathryn to chat with Dan and Kathleen which they did. As you can imagine this was a lot for Dan & Kathleen to take in but as you would expect they processed all this information with great maturity and chatted it through with us. Dan explains that process well;
"Alan and Kathryn both have played such a significant role in my life and I recognise that their words carry weight but we knew that just because it was them it was never enough to assume it was God. After we got off the phone with Alan the presence of God rested so heavy on both of us that we just began we weep and sense that this was a God ordained moment. We took a few days to think it through and process but I think ultimately we knew that this was the moment the breadcrumbs had a been pointing to.”
Janet and I are in agreement that this is an incredible opportunity for Dan, Kathleen, and their girls so it is with great sadness in one hand and full excitement on the other that we will be sending them to California to begin their new role at Vineyard Anaheim. They begin their new role at the beginning of October and will be moving at the end of September.
Of course, we will feel the loss of not having them here, we love them and they have been an incredible part of the family here. We will miss their wisdom and heart, the way they lean in and love.
We all care deeply for them, but as we do that we must always hold each other lightly, with an open hand that God has full access to. When God speaks we move, He always has increase and we look forward to seeing what that will be, both for us here and for the Henderson's in Anaheim.
We will get a chance to celebrate the Henderson’s this Sunday, 22nd September. It’s been a gift to have them and our job as a family is to love them well and fill them with everything we have as they process this transition in their lives.
Thank you for being such an incredible family,
Neil & Janet