We have been in Redding for over three months now! It feels like we have been here longer! God has been doing so much in our hearts!
We arrived after a pretty long journey to our new home - a city in the north of California which feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere ! When we drove up here the forest fires were raging it was hazy and hot and we couldn’t see or appreciate the beauty of the mountainous landscape surrounding the city. At first it seemed like a very bizarre place; built around a huge freeway with so many warehouse type shops. Around 1/10 of the population attends Bethel Church (9000 people ) and there are also hundreds of other big churches here too! So there are a lot of “Christians” here! However I wasn’t prepared for the many homeless / drug addict / alcoholic population there are in the city. This was a big surprise to me, it’s really heart-breaking to see such brokenness all over the city. Although it does open up so many opportunities for these precious ones to encounter Jesus through His people here!
When we first arrived it was ridiculously hot (46ºC), smokey, hazy and overwhelmingly different to what I had expected ! To add to the challenges we were homeless for nearly 2 weeks, I (Mollie) crashed our 1996 car (which is older than many BSSM students!) and I was feeling really anxious about arriving in America. We had no friends, no family and no money (the sale of Steve’s flat fell through two days before we came)! Everything seemed alien, weird and surreal (some people wear cowboy hats here)! Our first Sunday we didn’t even get to church as Grace was unwell and then the next Sunday our car didn’t start!
But God is FAITHFUL, KIND, LOVING and such a GOOD FATHER !!!
I admit during that first two weeks my peace wasn’t flowing like a river; “What have we done?“ was the main thought I was battling! “God I know you called us here, what’s going on?” Despite my lack of faith and my lack of trust - (which is crazy as He has never and will never let us down!!!) Jesus proved himself again and again here.
On one occasion, just after we had moved into our house (after staying with some new friends for the first 2 weeks) we had some furniture but not much. I had been asking God for a few things I knew we couldn’t afford including a vacuum cleaner and some kitchen stuff, groceries and a pass to the kids centre here. Then a precious local family invited us over for dinner one night and blessed us with an incredible meal – without us sharing our needs or desires to them at all - they blessed us with all these things and a sum of money which enabled us to pay everything we needed that month! We were just sat having dinner and they said “theres a vacuum at the door we want to give you”. Then they said “have you heard about this kids centre, we want to pay for a years pass so you can take Grace” The very things I had been praying about and they gave them to us without us even mentioning our needs to them. We felt so loved by them and they really demonstrated the heart of God to us with their outrageous kindness and generosity!
Since then other people have given us furniture we have needed, we have received other financial gifts and even had meals brought round for us. They have been just the most incredible moments (someone is even paying for Grace to go to ballet lessons with their daughter, what a blessing!!)! At times this journey of being completely dependant on God for our needs (in a place at least three times more expensive to live than Cambodia) can be quite stressful and hard but we also feel really thankful to be on this journey as we are learning more and more through experience of God’s faithful provision.
God has also provided us some wonderful friends who feel like family to us and to Grace (which was my biggest prayer coming here). In Cambodia and in the UK she had a handful of friends but now she has so many it’s hard to keep track of them all! She is also absolutely thriving at her daycare as well! It’s wonderful to be in relationship with the families here who are all on a similar journey and all hunger for more of Jesus. Getting to journey alongside them in their victories and their testimonies of breakthrough has been a highlight of our time here too!
Being able to go to Bethel church is also absolutely incredible! It’s so much more wonderful than I could have imagined; the presence of God, the way they equip the body, the way they love everyone who comes through the doors! Steve is studying at BSSM and with around 1200 others in his class and his mind is getting blown everyday! The quality and anointing of the teaching (from Kris and Bill and many other inspiring leaders) and the worship is all having a huge impact on his heart and already God is doing a big work in Him! I am getting to do 3 classes a week too; sozo training , something called Thrive and another class called “ fire starters “, plus there is worship 3 nights a week - really you could spend every night at church ! I feel God is doing a really deep work in me and already and like Steve I feel like my heart is getting some major surgery! For the first time in a while I feel like my taste buds have been awakened and I’m so hungry for more of God! The testimonies I have heard from people in the church are unbelievable; from 11 year olds praying for people dying with cancer getting healed , to rain falling in the Church building ( a few weeks ago) , to 5 year olds prophesying with accuracy. The other day Steve was in a healing class learning from someone who God had used to raise 5 people from the dead. It’s an environment of excitement, faith and God’s glory! Plus it’s so great as many people here are living by faith and sharing with me testimonies of money appearing in their home, multiplying in their hands and crazy stories that are really helping us to have faith to get through our financial challenges here!
In the first 3 weeks God gave us a word about Cambodia and Asia and many times since then during worship I have been smelling lemongrass so strongly ( which takes me back there instantly ) , plus God has been speaking to me too about going back ; but equally I really sense He is wanting us to go deep here and focus on everything He wants to do in our hearts before we think about what’s next ! It’s been wonderful as we have seen many friends from Cambodia here in Redding and even been able to speak Khmer with them! What a blessing!!
I’m so thankful God has brought us here as He knew we needed this time of being equipped, realigned and given a good MOT - I hadn’t realised I was believing so many lies about myself and honestly I felt very close to being burnt out (which is totally my responsibility). A few weeks ago Mike Bickle shared powerfully on how the first and greatest commandment - to love God with all our heart, soul and strength is all that really matters - this really helped me see how I had lost focus on this as my main priority everyday - I’m so thankful for God’s kind and gentle ways of bringing us back on track ! Last night as I drove home watching the beautiful moon sink behind the spectacular mountains and seeing the stars I felt so incredibly in love! Wow what an honour and gift that we get to be His lovers!
I am also so blessed to have joined a woman’s core group and I am learning how community works here in all its vulnerability alongside honour and I feel I am learning so much which I hope will help me cultivate community wherever I go next !
We have been so blessed to have had some visitors from our home church also - Andy and Irene! We have had so much fun with them and they are such a blessing to us! We are also so excited Steve’s younger brother came and had a wonderful time and then recently Steve’s sister came and was able to get baptised here at Bethel during one of the church services! It was a powerful and very special time.
This week the Americans are celebrating thanksgiving, which is a really important holiday here! As we look back on the last few months we can’t help but be full of thanksgiving for what God has been doing! We are still learning and it is still really challenging and difficult at times but we are continuing to discover more and more that He is always faithful, He is exciting, He is fun, He is worth our all and the pleasure of knowing Him doesn’t compare to anything else on this earth. Even if sometimes the process is very uncomfortable it is completely worth it to get to where He wants us to be and to be able to discover the greater depths of His nearness in the process.
I pray that God wold continue to take us all deeper into our love affair with Him and that we would know by experience the greater depths of the riches of His love!