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A Roller Coaster Ride

When we completed our Individual Volunteers in Mission training, someone should have said, “The lap bar is closing. Are you ready for the roller coaster ride?”

Two years ago we accepted the call of moving our family to the Republic of Slovakia to assist the Slovak Methodist Church in its ministry beginning in June, 2007. It is a country that the communists left with a gigantic wound of spiritual poverty.

The journey has definitely been composed of many twists, turns, corkscrews, and even upside down loops. We would just go into the valley of despair, thinking that the mission would never be possible, and then we would rise to the top of a hill and know that this was a mission possible. Two long descents in this journey, and the upward thrusts that followed them might help you to understand what I am talking about.

We are raising our granddaughter, Aria, who is 12 years old. She has in medical terms, intractable epilepsy, meaning it's not able to be controlled with medication. After many months of contemplating the decision and going through all of the medications for her seizure type, we decided to have a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted in November. This proved to be the miracle we were praying for. For the first time in her life Aria has been almost free of seizures.

When we made the agreement with the District Superintendent of Slovakia to be in ministry to the church, he pledged to pay us a stipend to help us with our housing, which would also have given us much-needed health insurance. The government of Slovakia helps pay salaries of church workers because of legislation following communism. However, late last month, the Slovak church was notified of an 80% cut in funds, leaving them with no alternative but to say they couldn't pay us. But that's not the end of the story. The people in our congregation of Cheviot United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, decided to “adopt” us and provide not only the money we would have received for salary, but also money to help cover our insurance costs.

We tell this story to emphasize that if God is calling you into ministry, there is a plan to take care of all of your needs. You may also feel the effects of weightlessness and helplessness when your ride takes you to depths you cannot foresee, but know that God is there with a plan to lift you back up and take you to heights you have never experienced before.

Phil and Martha Brice with their granddaughter, Aria, are Individual Volunteers in Mission who left for the Slovak Republic on June 17 for a two-year commitment. You can write to them at marthabrice@hotmail.com.