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Sara was the daughter of a pastor and sister to two older brothers. She described her walk with the Lord as “mundane” in her earlier years.
“I was under the impression that I had to earn my salvation. When I was a teenager I attended a WYAM discipleship training school but completely fell away from the Lord. Jesus was so merciful to me. He continued to pursue me.”
On Sara’s 21st birthday, she got down on her knees and cried out to the Lord. She was isolated, living on the east coast and very much alone. She had been struggling through a fierce battle with an eating disorder and many broken relationships. God met her in a powerful way in that moment, but it would take a full year for her to recover physically and emotionally from where she had drifted to.
“God was so gracious to me. First He healed my body. Then He healed my heart. He spoke to me through Psalm 139 and told me that He had made me, knit me together and that He wanted me to be made well.”
During this time of healing, Sara enrolled at IMPACT195.
Caleb also grew up in a Christian home in the state of Washington. He and his four sisters welcomed three more brothers and one new sister into their home when his parents adopted children from Haiti. He surrendered his life to Jesus when he was five years old, but it wasn’t until he turned twenty that he began to understand what it meant to have a relationship with Christ.
“I saw my faith at that time as a series of rules and guidelines I needed to follow in order to be a ‘good Christian’. I didn’t understand grace and relied more on behavior modification than real transformation. When I turned twenty, I joined the navy and got caught drinking underage.”
After his alcohol related incident in the Navy, Caleb started attending Rock Church. Within the first year he joined three different small groups, and was serving in two ministries. When IMPACT195 started up in 2010 he knew this was the next step in his walk with the Lord.
“At IMPACT195 God transformed my life. It was like Christianity on steroids compared to what I had experienced before. My relationship with God flourished and I had a ton of opportunities to live out what I had learned through my year of study, interning in the Academics Department, serving overseas on short term trips and all in the context of a loving community.”
Both Sara and Caleb knew they wanted to serve for an extended period of time in the mission field. Sara committed to a long term team moving to Asia first.
“When the opportunity was presented to me to move to Asia, I knew that God was giving me a choice. I had freedom in it and I knew that I didn’t need to earn my salvation anymore. I was free to walk in God’s acceptance of me in the decision to stay or the decision to go. After I made the decision to join the Asia team, there was this huge weight that lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t know what God was going to do or what was going to happen, but to commit fully was freedom for me. I was excited about the future and freedom that lay ahead for me.”
Caleb had been attending Horizon University and was half way through earning his bachelor’s degree.
“My roommate had just returned from a short term trip to Asia and was sharing a ton about what God had done in and through his team. It was pretty amazing. I started doing my own research and realized that one third of the world’s unreached people groups actually live in a particular region that was capturing my interest. There was a huge need there. During an equipping class one day, I couldn’t get this thought out of my head, ‘I should go to Asia’. Then a friend came up to me that same class and gave me a word and said, ‘God says go’. That was all I needed. I approached the Asia team leader that day and asked to join the team.”
Loving on the people of Asia was one of the biggest blessings Sara ever could have imagined.
“The people there are so precious. The relationships there are so sweet. I had no expectation when it came to just how much I was going to be blessed with the goodness of the Lord. He totally overflowed my cup. I loved making a life there and making a home there… it wasn’t just a short-term trip. The relationships we built were strong and we served one another. And the people of this region were always out serving us! Their culture is a serving based culture and not all of it comes from a healthy place, but we were constantly being served. In many ways the people there taught me more than we could teach them.”
Sara was truly humbled that the Lord would allow her to engage in such precious relationships.
“God was doing the work there. You would just show up. We were simply joining Him in what He had already started.”
Typical days on their team started early.
“Our team meetings were early in the morning on Mondays and Wednesdays. Depending on the various roles assigned to you on the team, you would then break out into smaller group meetings to make plans for next steps. Everyone on our team had a house churche of their own that they would host in the evenings. Sara and I each hosted our own churches previous to marriage. After we wed we hosted two more together."
Their team also hosted medical camps, serving the local people with eye and lung exams and checks on blood pressure. They also taught English, completed prayer walks, made house visits and distributed food to those who were in need.
“It was so important to get intentional and extended time in with the Lord each day. A five to ten minute devotional in the morning wasn’t going to cut it. And it was important that we would take small silences. We needed to be with Jesus every moment. We need to be filled up and allow Him to refresh us.”
Their weather in their new hometown reminded them a lot of San Diego.
“When you think of this part of Asia, many people would think it was a desert. But where we lived it was green, with beautiful hills, a breeze and rain. Just a couple hours away it was a hot and dry desert… but God definitely blessed us in that aspect. We always had enough to eat and a lot of tea. There were also a lot of snakes and monkeys and spiders to be avoided. Our town actually had an issue with tigers. Some of the children had been mauled. We had to be careful walking around town at different times of the day. They also had these huge bison with perfect bull haircuts… but they only came out at night.”
Caleb had joined the Asia team as a single man, but Sara had captured his heart early on.
“Coming to Asia, I felt strongly that I would marry Sara. To me it wasn’t a question of if this was the one, but rather when would be the right time to pursue. I was patient and waited six months. I was counseled and guided by our Asia team leaders and didn’t want to do anything that would interfere with the work we had come to do or the work Sara had come to do. I didn’t want to awaken love before it was time.”
Right before Caleb’s birthday, he took a three-day retreat with the Lord. During that time he felt strongly that God was giving him the green light to pursue Sara.
“When I got back from those three days away, Sara and I took a stroll by the creek near our home. I shared my heart with her. I made my intention known and boldly suggested we bypass the dangers and temptations of dating and go straight into marriage. To my great joy, Sara accepted. We decided to wed in Asia and invited all of our friends and family to join us there – to which many of them came! It was an adventure for us and for them!”
Sara recalls that when she first came to IMPACT195 she wasn’t open to marriage.
“Initially when I was at IMPACT195, I was there to heal. In Asia, I was there to serve. My heart was closed to the thought of marrying someone. But God slowly opened that door over a six-month period. If Caleb would have approached me any earlier with his feelings, I would have not been in a place to accept his hand in marriage. I remember I got really sick in August. I was in bed a lot and was really struggling. Caleb took such incredible care of me at that time. One day, after a visit from him, when I was at my worst, I realized this friendship was more than a friendship to me and I opened the door of my heart to him.”
Some of Caleb and Sara’s favorite moments together in Asia have been at their team’s discipleship school.
“We got the privilege of investing in and discipling twelve students that were so hungry to know God. They were so teachable and so moldable. Seeing God work in their lives in such a transforming way in such a short period of time was absolutely incredible! I remember walking them through a class on the attributes of God and I was blown away at what God did in and through it!”
Sara can remember God doing signs and wonders through house visits.
“We had visited this one woman’s house so we could pray for God to heal a tumor. Having this tumor was a constant struggle for her. It would leave and then come back and she just wanted to be totally rid of it. She was a believer and she was on her knees crying out for healing. As we started praying, I could remember having doubt in my heart. But we prayed for her anyways and left. We found out later that the tumor was gone and to this day has not returned. She’s been sharing with her neighbors and people at the market that Jesus healed her! It taught me that God is so faithful, even when we are not.”
After a year and half of ministry in Asia, Sara and Caleb have returned to the states.
“If God puts it on your heart to pray for us, pray this. Pray for the people of Asia we sowed into and invested in. Pray those seeds would flourish in good soil. Pray for our marriage. We are still newlyweds and it’s a whole new ballgame learning to be married in America. There are a lot of adjustments. We need Godly wisdom in the choices we need to make and we still want to have the mindset and habits we had in Asia, here. Pray God would refresh us and guide us into what is next.”