Tim and I grew up and lived in the metro area of Washington DC. We attended a church where we both received Christ, were active in the youth ministry and were very active in the drama ministry. We even held our wedding there. So when we found out that Tim would be transferred to Winston Salem NC in 1996, we were concerned that we would be able to find a church that would be home for us. When we arrived in March of 1996, we visited Calvary and never went anywhere else. It was home! We immediately got plugged into an incredible Bible Fellowship where we found community and a place to grow and learn in Christ. Our young son enjoyed the preschool ministry and I found sweet sisters in the Help Meet ministry where young women were mentored by more mature women of the faith. We also got plugged into the music ministry where we helped with Christmas and Easter productions. This led to us getting connected with Sound Foundation, the high school student choir. Calvary provided ways to minister for Christ and to be on mission for Him.
I was able to go on a few mission trips that were sent out by the church. Then in 2000, the orchestra, choir and drama ministries were heading to Belgium to work with refugees in refugee centers there. I had just gotten back from a mission trip to Germany but Larry White asked if I would be able to go with the choir that coming June. Tim really didn’t want me to go so I told Larry I wouldn’t be going on the mission trip. A few weeks before June, Larry asked us both to come into his office and he told us that there were two tickets to Belgium that would not be used because two people had to drop out…he said we could take the tickets and he wanted us on the trip. Little did we know how that would change our lives and the lives of our children forever. While we were in Belgium, God broke our hearts for the lost people all around us and He placed a call on our hearts to become full time missionaries with the IMB. We were encouraged and sent out by Dr. Corts, Francis Smith (our mission pastor at that time) and all of our friends in our Bible Fellowship class. The church family surrounded us and commissioned us to return to Belgium to share the Gospel with the world arriving in Europe.
Over the years while we were overseas with the IMB, we had numerous mission teams come from Calvary to work alongside us and our team. We served in Belgium and then in the UK and came back to Calvary in mid 2008 for stateside assignment (furlough). We immediately jumped back into life at Calvary. Our kids attended the day school, made friends in the youth group and we ministered again with the student choir, now called Vertical Generation. We also helped with the Christmas production that December. We had made plans to head back to London later that year when we met a couple of missionary friends working with Wycliffe during the GIC; they asked if we could help with a people group, from refugee camps in the jungles of Thailand, that would be arriving to the US. We told them we could help before we go back overseas and shortly afterward, we met our very first few Karenni families from Burma/Myanmar. We rallied over a hundred volunteers from Calvary who helped set up apartments, take families to doctors and appointments and basically to love on these families who had never lived in western civilization. With our Wycliffe friends, we were able to help share the Gospel with the Karenni people and see multitudes come to faith. A Karenni church plant was set up within the walls of Calvary. We soon realized that Christ was calling us back to Calvary to help our church reach out to refugees.
The next few years saw over 600 Karenni refugees resettled within a mile of Calvary, the very first Karenni pastor in the US being trained up and ordained, many mission trips sent out from Calvary to other refugee resettlement areas where hundreds of people came to Christ and many churches planted (Colorado, Atlanta, Upstate NY, Iowa, Nashville TN, Kentucky, Indiana etc.) Calvary members loved and welcomed the Karenni refugees and they became a part of the landscape of our church. Volunteers led VBS weeks specifically designed for our Karenni children, people helped teach adults and children ESL and Calvary members offered employment to our Karenni friends. Volunteers from Calvary helped organize and run national Karenni youth camps held at Camp Caroway. The Karenni believers became interwoven into the fabric of each ministry that Calvary was leading into the community and Calvary members discipled and loved their Karenni brothers and sisters. Calvary members also learned a great deal from them as well. They were humble, hard working and self sacrificing. They would take vacation days from work and school and travel thousands of miles in vans to share the Gospel with the lost. They showed us how important community was and how to serve with the love of Christ.
Calvary sent us back out in 2016 to work with Rohingya, Chin, Congolese and Ukrainian refugees in the Upstate of SC. We were sad to leave our home, Vertical Generation, the day school and our people but we felt loved and supported by our Calvary family and we are so thankful for their encouragement and prayers.