Since Claudia and I married, we had always dreamed of moving overseas and fulfilling God’s call upon us to be missionaries and send missionaries to the world’s most challenging and persecuted nations. When we finally moved overseas in 2014, I felt I was fulfilling the call of God over my life, my wife’s life, and our family. To my surprise, Claudia became pregnant within the first month of our arrival in the Philippines, but sadly, it ended in a miscarriage.
On top of our significant loss, we didn’t have our family, old spiritual community, or familiar friends in America to comfort us. Everything was new: the culture, language, and missionary home we shared. We didn’t even know how to connect to the internet to call our close relationships back home. Our welcome mat into the Philippines was not a celebration: instead, it was mourning and loss. I remember looking at my wife Claudia and asking, “Do you want to go home?”
Her response was something that I would never forget: it marked our marriage and our relationship. As a godly husband, my initial concern was that when there is this great of a loss, and you are away from your family, and you cannot speak the language, and you are out of your culture, then the right thing to do is to mourn – go into comfort and mourn among those you know.
Claudia looked at me and said, “What are you talking about? I never even thought about going home. God called us here. This is supposed to be our home, whether we have a miscarriage or not.”
What it did caused me to know that, if nothing else, my wife was taking this call very seriously. More than an experience, she knew this as a conviction and command of the Lord over our life. I did, and it confirmed where we stood and what we would do. No matter what happened, how we were attacked, or what obstacles and struggles we encountered, our ultimate goal and comfort were to be doing what the Holy Spirit was doing. For us, it was doing the mission work in the region of the world we were called to do. This theme of spiritual warfare became the name of our first child, ‘Warrior.’
Within a month, Claudia was pregnant again with our first-born daughter Ariela Justice. Ariela in Hebrew means “Lioness of God.” We knew that the response God was asking of us was to be courageous in faith and love and not to back down. This time the baby was healthy and growing up till the last trimester when Claudia had many allergies. This also came when we were approaching the final stage of a campaign to reach out to 70,000 people. She experienced many pregnancy-related body pains – tiredness, fatigue, and discomfort. I remember telling her, “If you want to help with the campaign, maybe you could just pray at home.”
I was trying to find ways that she would feel included in the campaign, though still not physically exerting herself. As I spoke to her, I sensed the Holy Spirit rebuking me and telling me, “You always preach about taking up the cross. Stop telling your wife to stop picking up her cross!” When I heard that, my wife said, “Hey, I am called to do this, too, not just you.”
That is one more time that I was set straight regarding our priorities. Even as a husband, my goal is not to make my wife loved, happy, and comfortable but to ensure that she continually picks up her cross and remains in the center of God’s will – despite all other things. I was brought back to the moment of truth: no matter what we were experiencing, where or how, we must be focused on God’s will as our primary purpose. And that included my role as husband.
Then we had the campaign. Over 71,000 people heard the Gospel. By the end of that year, 200,000 people had heard the Gospel, and approximately 70,000 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ. It was because we kept ourselves aligned with what God was doing, not what we felt comfortable doing, and not what we felt we should be doing in our understanding. In all this, we leaned heavily on God’s understanding instead of our own.
Listen to “Kids We’ll Never See” by Tommy Manay
“Kids We’ll Never See” is dedicated to our three children, Warrior, Mattias, and Sophia, who we lost on the mission field, and all the other children in the world we will never get to see from so many injustices and different circumstances.