He Changed Our Path & Our Hearts

CWO missionaries to Zambia, Bill and Marci Hoover, share about God’s change in plans in ending their ministry in Zambia all while preparing them to return to the US during a global pandemic.

As the laws within Zambia changed, so did our plans. Not because we wanted to leave Zambia – far from it. Our plans changed because God already had a different plan and He changed our path and our hearts. We felt the leading of the Lord so clearly and knew it was time. God confirmed our decision by providing support of the move through CWO’s home office. The Nephews were mostly grown and ready to stand on their own two feet and in their own faith. It was clear that God was releasing us from the work in Zambia and ushering us into a new season of life.

Our most common statement to Nephews and friends when preparing to leave was, “The right thing to do is often the most difficult thing to do.” Leaving was extremely difficult. It was like losing your family, your identity, and your purpose. It was so hard and painful, but like so many other crazy times in our lives, we knew we had to take that big step in faith and trust the Lord.

COVID-19 forced our exit to be sooner than planned and we missed out on several good-bye parties, a visit from our son and daughter-in-law, and lots of hugs. We left with 4 suitcases filled with 18 years of possessions and sleep deprivation from packing and facilitating the handover of supplies and needed funds to close the ministry. As we flew the 52-hour journey back to America, we were too tired to care about the fact that the airports were literally closing behind us nor that lightening struck our plane twice.

Quarantine was a sweet relief. (The photo above is the quarantine house.) A time to be utterly alone for the first time in many, many years. Time to be in silence. Time to sleep and process. It was one of the most memorable times we’ve had as a couple. Utterly alone.

We shifted into our house May 1st and began the process of unpacking boxes from our one basement storage room. So many wonderful family memories and out-of-style clothes! We cleaned, rearranged, and learned how to run the dishwasher and washer/drier. We kept saying, “We should charge our phones while we have electricity!” or “We should do a load of laundry while we have both power and water!” What a relief to know we could let that worry go.

The relief seen in our mother’s and son’s eyes, now that we are on the same continent, is hard to describe. We never knew how much stress it placed upon them to have us so far away. We have also been told by dear friends, “It is so wonderful to have you near us again. There is a peace about it. We don’t know why it is important, but we are so happy you are back.” We heard the same as we were leaving Zambia – “We know you are called to go, but just knowing you were here in Zambia somehow gave us peace.” So, we have no doubt we are supposed to be here. If we had remained in Zambia even a few days more, we literally wouldn’t have been able to fly out until the middle of August when airports opened again in Zambia. With the ministry and bank account officially closed, staying was not an option.

There were definitely thoughts about when we should start applying for jobs, how would we afford a second car, what if we didn’t get jobs before the end of September? How would we pay the mortgage and bills? In His usual style, the Lord did more than we could ask. CWO was gracious to provide us with a severance to help with the unemployed month. By God’s grace we both started new jobs at the end of July and we couldn’t be more pleased with them. The bills can now be paid, a car acquired, and we now get the joy of being on the other side of missions – supporting ministries that we feel called to come along side of. It’s a whole new world and we are excited to see how He uses us in our jobs and the church body He leads us to.

We’ve said it before. Never refuse to follow the Lord’s leading just because it seems too hard or impossible. Often times the right thing to do is the hardest (and most painful) thing to do, but…oh how sweet the outcome when all your faith is in the one, true Lord who sits on the throne and is sovereign over all things – even departures from a country He originally called you to.