It has been almost ten years since David Brumbach and I boarded a New's Year Eve flight to Brazil. I could not tell you exactly at which point during this period Brazil became "home" to me. I regard it less as a moment of rapture and more as a progression of seasons. I can only tell you that in these last few years when posed the question "so, how does it feel to be home?" during one of our occasional visits to the States, in some strange way I felt dishonest in answering it.
I tell you this to couch the news that Carol and I are moving to Denver, Colorado to work with Northfield Church. This is as much of a surprise to us as it may be to you. The whole process was somewhat of a whirlwind, so I will do my best to give you the brief version here.
Back in June, when Carol and I recognized that our plans to grow the Sombra Road House did not seem to align to the Lord's plans, we began to ask Him to clarify His desires for us in this next season of our lives. Given our work in the favelas, our involvement in the seminary and the close network of friends and family, we naturally assumed that we would just roll off Sombra Road staff and find something new to do in Brazil. At that moment, going to the States was not even on our radar. However, in July, I received an e-mail from some friends encouraging us to consider applying for a position at the church which they attended. We decided to apply, regarding it as a remote possibility at best.
I would not say that our circumstances were supernaturally altered upon submitting my resume for this position. I think the decision just encouraged us to step back and take inventory of our lives. We began to realize that the people in whom we had invested were either mature enough to walk on their own or had been introduced to others who desired to walk beside them. In evaluating our work in the favelas, I perceived that each one of our projects was now being headed by a local leader. In assessing the maturity of the guys in our house, we felt that their individual relationships with the Lord had reached the point in which our distance from them could actually promote further growth. Slowly, we became open to the idea of stepping away.
Meanwhile, our conversations with Northfield Church were stirring expectations of learning, new challenges and contributions. We discovered that their desire for discipleship, their commitment to community and their "gospel-neighboring" approach to outreach mirrored our own. The "get to know you" process took the better part of two months, and we were invited to visit in October. At the end of that visit, they extended the offer, and we, after much prayer and some tears, accepted.
It is with much gratitude both to the Lord and to you that I relate this news. As I reflect upon these ten years that were shared with most of you, I am reminded of all that the Lord accomplished according to His mercy. There were the kids at REAME, the kids in the community of Sao Goncalo, the youth from Morro do Macaco, Casa Branca, Jacarezinho, Sao Joao, Morro do Amor and Ilha da Governador. In sum, I would say that between David, Camilla, Jason, Kristin, Carol and I, Sombra Road maintained relationships with upwards of five hundred kids during these ten years. But, as you know, this ministry has always been less about the numbers and more about individual stories - stories that over time became our own. And although this particular blog will no longer relate these stories, I pray that they will linger on in our memories as a testament to God's goodness, encouraging us to surface said goodness in the relationships that await us tomorrow.