When I met Nick at the age 14, he knew he wanted to be a pastor.
When he was 17, he knew that he was supposed to minister outside the borders of our home country, America.
When he was in university, he knew that he was designed for a difficult work - starting a church from nothing.
The road has been quite long and wonderful. After university, we worked for an intense year to pay off $26,000 in school debt to have the freedom to move overseas. I taught group piano classes while Nick volunteered at a church, valeted cars for tips at a fancy restaurant on the weekends, and substitute taught in the inner city schools of Minneapolis. Our date nights consisted of going to a restaurant that had lots of free chips and salsa, and we'd make an excuse to the waiter.
"We're not that hungry, so we'll share a meal." And then, we'd proceed to consume two or three baskets of chips - proving to our waiter that we were, indeed, just frugal.
We served in Armenia for eight years. We helped start a university for pastors. We invested in women and the hungry. We helped Armenian pastors start churches. We oversaw the translation of many important books and tools into the Armenian language. But, the dream of starting a church was not possible.
We've spent a total of three years traveling over 180,000 miles to hundreds of churches in America - fundraising for the dreams God placed in our hearts.
We've lived the past two years in Estonia - attempting to learn and prepare as much as we can.
And now, we stand waiting on the side of the stage. We hear the audience slowly taking their seats. The music is starting to play. The blinding stage lights are about to be flipped on. We hold hands nervously, hoping that we prepared well enough for the journey. On September 7, our wonderful team will pull open the curtains and Focus Church will begin. A 17 year old dream will debut.
And fortunately, this church is not about us - how well we perform, remember our lines, or enunciate our words. It's about God reminding people of His love and purpose for their lives. It's not about a boring existence or rules. It's about a real joy and freedom that comes when we realize that we don't have to be good enough, strong enough, wise enough to make it in this life alone. It's about grace and love.
My little family's life is about to change in five days. We walk on to a new stage that we've spent years dreaming about and preparing for. And we want this church to be a new staple in the landscape of Estonia- a church that is so giving and loving in the community, that if Focus Church were to ever disappear, people would notice and miss its presence.
In honor of starting this new journey, I am allowing the electronic version of my book (that details my former journey in Armenia) to be free for download for three days! You just need a Kindle or a kindle app (free download) to read it.
Our wonderful Armenian friend, Marina, has been here the last two weeks to help support us as we live the most stressful and hectic days of our lives. She has been priceless. She cooks, cleans, folds laundry, organizes my cabinets, laughs with my children, and listens while giving life-changing advice. You can find a special chapter dedicated to her in my book, "Remember Marina." Also, there is a story based on an interview I did with one of her family members. That can be found in the chapter entitled, "Life Without Love: The True Story of an Armenian Woman."
Marina, thank you for standing with us from the first day of our Armenian journey and for being there when we go LIVE on the first day of our next.
Thank you to everyone - our team who has sacrificed so much, our leadership, our supporters, our Estonian partners, our family and friends. You are with us in our hearts, in our nervousness, and you are sustaining us every step of the way.
There's no going back now. The opening day is upon us. Let the lights shine!
Download a free copy of my book here. It will be available September 2 - 5, 2014.