How do you typically respond when you hear God’s voice? I mean like really clearly. Crystal clear. When it’s obvious He is telling you to do something (or not)? Do you respond with immediate obedience? Do you think about it awhile and then respond? Do you ignore Him altogether and justify it by saying that God couldn’t possibly mean what you think you’re hearing? Or maybe you tell yourself it’s all a figment of your imagination and you’re crazy!! Well, the Bible tells us that Our Father does indeed speak to us and that He does indeed clearly call us to do certain things. It also says that we must obey - that we must respond to His Word and to His calling. At all costs - no matter what. Are we bold and brave enough to trust Him when He speaks clearly to us? Most of us, I believe, are not. Most of us are too fearful or comfortable to do what God is really telling us to do. We miss out on blessings because we won’t step out in faith. We give up the “great” for the “good”. Believe me, I know. I’ve done it many times. But, wow! Those times that I have trusted in God and taken that huge step of faith when I know that I know that I know He has called me to do something – what incredible blessings and growth I have received! If only we could have BIG faith and trust EVERY time. Imagine. Just imagine.
Imagine with me: A not-so-typical American family of 6. Mom, Dad, 3 boys, 1 girl. Texans - tried and true. Love the Lord, serve Him in ministry, and blessed with a big heart for missions and other cultures. God gives them a vision. God clearly speaks to them. He is calling them to something deeper, something amazing, something wild and adventurous!! He has put within them a passion for the people of South America. He has put within them a desire to live among those people, learn the language, the culture, and build relationships that will eventually lead to those people knowing Jesus. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR the calling that God has placed on their lives. They feel the stirring, the urgency to answer the call. They feel the great battle of choosing between stepping out in faith into the unknown and unfamiliar and challenging adventure or staying within the comfortable confines of their American suburban lifestyle. Whew! What a choice. Can you just imagine? By now some of you will have figured out that the family is us! A lot of you know our desire to do mission work and our history with missions. By now, many of you have already heard the incredible news of our “Great Adventure” – some of you may be in shock right now and might need to stop for a while and breathe! Yes, it is true. We are feeling called to the mission field on more of a long-term basis. We have a strong connection with Bolivia and feel this is where God is leading us. More specifically, Cochabamba – a city of about 600,000 on the western border of Bolivia, at the base of the Andes Mountains.
Obviously, this is HUGE for our family! This is not a decision that has been taken lightly or made hastily. It has been in the works for a while and we have prayed and saught the Lord’s will carefully. We have simply tried to be obedient and walk through each door that God has opened. If He closes a door, then we will seek out an open one. We are in the preliminary application process with a couple of mission agencies and are excited to see where that leads. One of the next BIG steps we need to take is to sell many of our belongings and eventually sell our home. This will be a long process, but it needs to begin now. We are planning to take an “exploratory” trip down to Cochabamba as a family sometime soon. This is going to be a costly trip, but an extremely necessary trip. It will be an important time to see how the kids react to the culture and language, learn about the city and its inhabitants, meet with some key church leaders and missionaries we have been in contact with, and possibly look for a place to live. After our exploratory trip, we will better know how to prepare, what to expect, and how to pray.
Back in early April I was feeling a restlessness on what God would have me do to best serve him and just felt like he was calling me to a new work. The idea of foreign missions had already been on our minds months prior since returning from a mission trip to Ukraine last July but put on the back burner for a few months. The 2nd week of April I went by our mission's pastor Chad Clarkson's office to ask him about some friends of ours in the church who recently moved and I brought up to him that we were (again) feeling lead to pray about missions. Chad asked if we were still feeling lead to South America and I said "yes". Chad said "I'm meeting a guy for lunch tomorrow from Bolivia - you wanna go?" and I said "yes!" So that night I went home and told Shay about this and we thought this was very interesting. Now having Bolivia on our minds again, together we looked back at a website from a church in Cochabamba Bolivia that my dad had sent me to 6-8 mos. prior. From that website I made a contact with a guy from that church who is an American missionary there who founded the church 7 yrs. ago. His name is Graham Porter. One of the last pages we looked at was the staff page and there was Graham's picture who I had spoken to already and another Bolivian with his family who served as Assoc. Pastor. So the very next day was Wed. April 15th and I went to lunch with Chad and Nate Wirt - who was a friend from old CCCC days several years ago. Nate had actually set up this lunch meeting for us to meet Edwin. As soon as I walked into Nate's office I saw this Bolivian guy setting there who I immediately recognized and began to tell him that I recognized his face from his church website that I had just looked at the very night before!! This was an amazing time that I felt HAD to be from God. It was as if God had sent a beam of light of confirmation into the room as I was meeting Edwin. I couldn't wait to tell Shay so I immediately sent her a text message that said: GOD WANTS US TO GO TO BOLIVIA. She replied "when?" I began to tell her the events that had just transpired and she too was amazed. Just days before we had been praying again about missions and asking God to show us what we should do and then this happened! Below is the picture of Edwin that I saw on his church website. Church web address: http://www.cicbolivia.org/
We feel like God might have us partner with the ministry of CIC in some way to help them reach the professionals of Cochabamba Bolivia. The church has a vision for using the arts to connect with people and have already seen many opportunities accomplish this. As we make our initial trip to Cochabamba we will better understand if this seems to be a fit for us and for the church there. We will be having more conversations about how we can contribute and serve with them in the days to come to further the reach of the gospel in this city and country.
How can you get involved to help us?
We would humbly ask that you begin to pray earnestly for us. As you can imagine, it is going to take an immense amount of time, energy, and patience to prepare ourselves and the kids for this major life change. Pray for our financial provision, first of all. We will be living on total support once we get on the field, and will be doing more formal and official fund raising once we know more details from our first trip. However, we need financial help to get there initially for our exploratory trip which is expensive since all 6 of us will be going. Secondly, pray for our spiritual preparation. There are certain areas in which we desperately need the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. Pray for God’s divine provision and for the hearts and minds of the kids to be readied and prepared for the journey we face. We are convinced that their lives will be changed for the better in incredible ways and their view of the world will expand immensely. We would love to chat personally with each of you if you have any questions or want to more of how we came to this place. One of the most important assets for us is going to be our support team. If you are receiving this, we already consider you a supporter of our family, therefore we want you to be part of our “team”! If you feel a leading to help us financially get down to Bolivia for an exploratory trip, then please contact us directly. Again, this will just help us defray some costs on our exploratory trip which we hope to make in August. Our trip will cost us roughly about $8000. Any financial gifts we would simply consider a love offering in support of our calling. Each of you means the world to us and this new chapter in the Ballew’s family story will be bitter sweet as we part one day.
By God's Grace,
Lowell & Shay Ballew
(Aidan, Liam, Jude, Olivia)
3023 Manor Bay Ct.
League City, Tx, 77573