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February 10, 2020

Obedience = risk and humility

Written by  Janelle Neff
The Neffs at a festival in Germany where a lot of handwerkers (crafts people) make and sell their handiwork. The Neffs at a festival in Germany where a lot of handwerkers (crafts people) make and sell their handiwork. Janelle Neff

Asher started second grade in the fall. For most second graders, starting school is a familiar process. They may return to the school where they went to first grade and might know the other kids in their classes. They may be a bit nervous about their teacher or disappointed to end vacation but overall not feel too overwhelmed. Asher’s first day of second grade felt a bit different from that.

If I imagine walking into a room of strangers who use words that I don’t understand but who give me assignments and expect me to follow through on what was said, I imagine a nightmare. Yet this is Asher’s real life scenario. For me, as a mom, the hardest part of moving to Germany has been thinking about and walking through this very thing. I am sending my small, precious son to a place that will greatly impact his self image and worldview, and I am sending him in a very vulnerable way: without language.

Living in obedience to Christ requires risk and humility, not only for myself, I am learning, but also for my family. 

Willing participants
Three years ago, my husband and I began to feel a nudge from God to move our young family of five to Germany. Eric and I met in YES and served separately with EMM on various assignments. From the beginning of our married life, we have been open to the idea of serving abroad. We were filled with peace and hope but also wondered if God could use imperfect vessels such as ourselves to help advance His kingdom in Europe. As we walked in obedience to God, He began to work in our hearts and minds and remind us that the work in Germany is His work and He is only asking for willing participants, full of imperfections and weaknesses, to labor alongside Him.

Throughout our time of preparation, fundraising, moving, and transition God had been teaching us to trust Him in new and deeper ways. For me, each step of obedience to God’s call has brought up new and deeper junk in my heart and mind. The past year has been riddled with doubts and anxieties but learning to trust God only comes when I am vulnerable.

Hope and good fruit
God has been showing me some things as we adjust to living in Germany. As I have been praying for Asher, God has been reminding me that He loves Asher even more than I do. He has good plans for him, and I am already seeing good fruit. I am also realizing how brave, resilient, and strong Asher is. He is already understanding quite a bit of German and is making friends at school. I have also been impressed with the teachers, staff, and students at Asher’s school. They seem to be putting some effort into helping Asher feel comfortable and welcome. On the first day of school a boy from his class came over to him on his own and showed him where to go and stood next to him until they filed into the building. All of these things give me hope that it will all be okay.

As my family and I have walked out of our comfort zone, God has filled me with peace and faith. Obedience isn’t easy but obedience to God and His calling on our lives leads to freedom, hope, and joy. The God we follow, and obey, calls us to the very life we were meant to live.

Janelle and Eric Neff, along with their children Andre, Khaira, and Asher, serve in Germany in the ministries of hospitality, discipleship, and prayer and intercession.

This article appears in the January/February 2020 issue of Missionary MessengerSign up to receive more inspiring stories like this one in our magazine.

Published in Articles, Worker stories