“What are you doing here?”
This is a very common question for me. I’m an Australian living in Lithuania, a country named for its rain. Many locals find it odd that I choose to live among them, considering the language barrier and difference in cultures. I said “Yes” to God, and that simple word took me all around the world. I decided to move where God said to, even when everyone else advised otherwise. He answered prayers so miraculously that it hardly makes sense to anyone else when I tell them. I knew God was good; I had seen His goodness firsthand.
God’s goodness in the midst of hard seasons is like a specific compliment in a sea of small talk, sunshine after days of rain, or a strong hug.
Over a journey of 4 years, God took me from being a bitter, confused pastor’s kid, intent on never leaving his home town, to an adventurous, faith-filled, excitable adult living on the other side of the planet.
After living in Sweden for two years, attempting to pioneer a ministry, I felt God prompting me to go to Lithuania with no team and no knowledge of the language. I jumped into the deep end, excited to meet people, make connections, get involved with church, and figure out future ministry opportunities.
But the first few months stopped me in my tracks.
This was not the high energy of Australian youth ministry I had grown to love while in Newcastle; it wasn’t the project planning of a communications department in Sweden. It was just me, learning verbs, getting sick, feeling isolated, forgotten and irrelevant. I felt sidelined, like I’d been tricked into moving here. Why did God take me from successful, fruitful ministry, only to plant me in a place where I couldn’t understand anyone? My main skill set is dependent on conversations and words. And without them I felt blind and weak. I felt like a failure.
But then I began to meet people who not only agreed to show me around town, teaching me about their country, but were also excited to spend time with me. I had long conversations about culture, history, ideologies and religion, conversations that changed my perspective on things and helped me see that I could belong here. I fell in love with this beautiful city for more than just its aesthetics.
In the midst of being so far away from family, unable to be 100% myself, and constantly feeling like I have failed somehow, God’s goodness streams into my life. It shows through people, through stories, through laughter, comfort and beauty.
I can see that I have been blessed by God in tangible and deep ways.
As I’ve processed my fears and insecurities regarding staying here, I’m left with the original question that started this whole thing. Why am I here? Why do I trust God with my life when I can’t see Him? I have a choice: return to a life of security, within my own control—a good life, amongst friends and family that I love deeply, in a country I understand and identify with—or, believe that God is so good, and so interested in my good, that He will lead me to good places. If I do believe He is good, and He is leading me here, then I have to trust that the tough times are worth it.
I may be missing out on things back in Australia, like holding my baby nephew, but God, in His goodness, has placed me here to help prepare for the future of the great nation of Lithuania and the kingdom of our Creator. Even in these hard times, God is good. And I will follow Him.
by Jeremy Randall
YWAM Newcastle Alum
Jeremy (AUS) currently lives in Lithuania, but was on staff at YWAM Newcastle for 4 years. He is passionate about friendship and experiencing other cultures, and also enjoys deep conversations and playing guitar.
This post is the sixth in a blog series on the fruits of the Spirit by YWAM Newcastle staff and alumni. In the series, each author shares how a specific fruit of the Spirit has impacted their understanding of God’s character. Through these blog posts, we hope to encourage you to look for examples of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your own life.