Pastor Jeff encouraged us this week to share our story. So, I would like to share the story of how the lives of a family in India intersected with that of a church a few thousand miles away (8448 miles to be exact). If you haven’t guessed already, it’s the story of how my family and I came to be a part of Skyline.
We never wanted to come to the United States. It wasn’t in our 1-year, 5-year, or even 10-year plan. We were content with our lives back in India. The kids were happy, went to a school they liked, and had family and friends that loved them. We had plans of building a house and settling down. And then out of the blue came this opportunity to come here. It didn’t make too much sense to me. Why would God want to uproot us from our comfortable and pleasant lives and put us in a completely foreign place? This seemed like an irritating deviation from all the plans that we had.
I had so many unanswered fears and questions. With no family nearby, would we be overwhelmingly alone and lonely? Having heard stories of how it was impossible to manage on a single income, I worried if we would be able to make ends meet. The kids weren’t proficient in English. Would they struggle in their new school? Would they feel out of place? Who would we turn to for help in case of an emergency?
Still we trusted God and made the 8448-mile journey from security to uncertainty. Little did we know that God was quietly putting the pieces of the puzzle in place for us much before that journey had even begun. Looking back, I see that now. Just look at the timelines: The team that would go on to launch Skyline Vineyard Church began to gather together in Stafford, VA in February of 2012. We received our visas to come to the US in July of 2012. Our plan was to travel to the US in the fall of 2012, but I became pregnant with kid #3 and we pushed that move back by a year. Skyline was officially launched in Northern Virginia in March 2013. We landed in Northern Virginia in July 2013.
Looking at those dates, I have no doubt in my mind that God wanted us to find Skyline. A week after we landed in the US, a friend suggested that we try out a Vineyard church. Being a little jet-lagged and unfamiliar with Vineyard churches, I half wondered (or hoped?) if we would be served wine even as I googled for the nearest one. I was happy to see that there was a Vineyard church only a few miles from where we stayed, but also a little anxious. Would we be the odd ones out? Would we be accepted as we were? Would they understand us with our Indian accents? Would we understand them?
I needn’t have worried though. We were welcomed with open arms and felt right at home. Notice I used the word ‘home’ even though we were thousands of miles away from what was home. But that’s exactly what it felt like. We made friends who quickly became like family. We did life together. We helped each other through our struggles. My kids were loved and made to feel special. They loved going to church and jumped out of bed on Sunday mornings (a sure proof of interest as any parent knows). Sony and I have grown as Christians here more than we have in our entire Christian lives. We were trusted with leadership positions even though we had no experience and didn’t have a clue what we were doing (still don’t!).
God answered all my prior fears and questions by placing us in this family that looked nothing like each other and it has changed our lives. Our minds and hearts have been broadened and we’ve had a blast along the way.
And now, four years later, we stand in the same position that we were in then. Circumstances necessitate that we go back to India soon. And once again, I am filled with so many questions and fears. Why Lord are you taking me back to India now when I love it here? I fear the kids will have a hard time readjusting to the schools back there now that they are used to the ones here. I fear we will not be able to find a church where we fit in as wonderfully as we have here.
The interesting thing is that the fears and questions I have now almost completely mirror the ones I had 4 years ago. Looking at how wonderfully God came through for us then gives me the confidence and comfort that He will do it again. If He took care of us before, He will certainly take care of us again. For all I know, He’s already at work putting some pieces into place for us. I know my story isn’t over yet and that I’ll probably look back and wonder why I was worried in the first place. This won’t stop my heart from breaking at the thought of leaving everyone here, but I know He has something better planned, both for us and for Skyline.
Reflecting on my story has encouraged me that God was with me in the past and that He will continue to be with me in the future. What situation do you find yourself in? Think back to your story of where you were and how far along God has brought you and I’m sure it will encourage you to trust Him more.
Betsy Sony is a stay-at-home mom who has the full-time job of looking after 4 beautiful girls. She came to the United States from India along with her husband Sony about 4 years ago and loves all things Skyline, reading, being outdoors, and experiencing new cultures and cuisines.