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57. What does God intend to do now?

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Sven speaks: There was a lot I needed to arrange in Papua New Guinea as we completed our work there. Marianne went to Australia a couple of weeks before me to help Sonia moving to Toowoomba and settling in at the university. When we came to Australia in 1990 to arrange Sonias’ and Andrews' continued schooling, we sold our house in Mount Isa. We bought an old house in Woodridge in Brisbane for the proceeds. It had been leased over the years we were in Papua New Guinea. Since we were going to stay at least three years in Toowoomba, we wanted to buy a house there instead. We agreed that Marianne would try to sell the house as soon as she came to Australia. She came in contact with a real estate agent. He was a Pentecostal and helped her to sell the house. We got $60,000 for it.

When the real estate agent found out that we wanted a house in Toowoomba, he said that he had a newly built house there that we could buy for $125,000 and thought that Marianne and he could go and have a look at it. Marianne was very hesitant about this, since she did not feel prepared to sign such a big deal by herself. The real estate agent persuaded her to come along with him. When Marianne saw the new house she was very impressed. The agent wrote out a contract and got Marianne to sign it on the condition that I would also accept it when I arrived in Australia.

When Marianne picked me up at the airport, she was very nervous. She had not been able to sleep during that night. She had worried about what I would think about the fact that she had already, more or less, bought a house. My problem was in some ways the very opposite. When it came to such decisions, I wanted Marianne and I to agree, but from past experience I knew that Marianne had a hard time making up her mind. I had thus worried about having to go around to look at a lot of houses. When Marianne, with a heavy heart, told me what she had done, she expected me to get angry. Instead I was relieved and just about laughed myself to death over her being so worried. I asked her if she liked the house. "Yes, I do." she replied. I then signed the contract without even having seen the house. If Marianne was happy with the house, it simply could not be wrong.

We settled in in Toowoomba and became active in the Spring Street Church, an Assemblies of God church. It was a church of about 1,000 members, and I had the privilege of preaching about once a month. I also became a member of their Missions board. Ps Fred Evans was the senior pastor of the church. He was married to Betty, who had done her nursing training at the same hospital. They had also had been missionaries in Papua New Guinea for 16 years.


David, Marianne and Sonia in Toowoomba

All of this was well and good, but having resigned from our position with Assemblies of God world mission, we were no longer supported financially, and needed to find employment to support ourselves. I was 52 years old, and since I had been out of the labor market in Australia for a long time, I knew it would not be easy to find a job. I was considering upgrading my engineering degree at the university in Toowoomba. I made some inquiries and realized that this would not be a quick fix, but it could work. For Marianne, it was a little easier. She took a six-month refresher course to be able to work again as a midwife.

During the time Marianne was in Brisbane, before I came back from Papua New Guinea, Marianne's brother George had told her "Tell Sven that he needs to talk to me before he starts looking for a job." George had for many years been an Assemblies of God pastor, but had later started his own business sometimes in the 1980s. George trained himself and started a business selling and servicing portable fire protection equipment. George worked hard and eventually the business started making good money. A large American concern involved in fire protection bought him out and employed him as their sales manager for their Portable Fire Extinguishing Department of their subsidiary company, Wormold in Brisbane. George was very successful, but had problems with stock disappearing from the workshop and the warehouse. Employees were stealing fire extinguishers and selling them on the black market. This was something that had been going on long before he became the manager and his predecessor had been fired because he had been found out to be involved.

When George became sales manager, it was running with a loss of about $ 500 000 a year. In one year, he turned it into a profit of $500,000 a year. He now wanted a reliable workshop manager who he could trust and offered me the job. I told him the truth that I did not know anything about portable firefighting equipment, but George convinced me that I would pick it up quickly. I accepted the job and commuted the 130 km between Toowoomba and Brisbane every day. I managed to put a stop to the thefts and I was going to be promoted to greater responsibilities within the company. However, God made it clear to us that he had other plans for Marianne's and my life.


Papuan family visiting Marianne and Sven in Toowoomba

A while after we had established ourselves in Toowoomba, we started hearing about Kazakhstan. We first heard about Kazakhstan through the Assemblies of God Church in Toowoomba, which was supporting a missionary in Kazakhstan. We had never heard of this country before, but now we saw programs about the country on television. The country of Kyrgyzstan also appeared along with other names of the Central Asian ex-Soviet Republics which gained independence through the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991

After about two years, Marianne and I received a letter from the Assemblies of God World Mission's Director Dr George Forbes. He began the letter by expressing his excitement over the fact that Sonia was feeling well and that her studies went well. The letter continued something like this: "Maybe it is time for you to start thinking about what to do when Sonia has completed her Bachelor in Nursing and on what God wants you to do next. I have some suggestions that I hope you will consider and pray about, whether it could be God's plan for the future of your lives."

One of the suggestions was for us becoming responsible for the missionaries in Kazakhstan. I would become the Australian Assemblies of God field leader for Kazakhstan. Spontaneously, it definitely felt like something we could do, on the condition that this was what God wanted us to do. This was precisely what our question mark was all about– was this in accordance with God's will for us? I had not received a direct revelation from God that we were to be missionaries in this part of the world. I told George that we were open to this suggestion, but before we made up our minds we had to hear from God that this was what we were supposed to do.

In late 1997, the Assemblies of God World Mission came back to us. During the time that had elapsed from their last inquiry, the Assemblies of God World Mission had divided the world into regions to be able to serve its missionaries more effectively. One such region was Central Asia, including Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and the Uighurs people of western China. They stressed that there was a great need for us to undertake the responsibility for this mission area and thus wanted me to be Missionary Director for Central Asia with an overall responsibility for the missionaries who served in those countries. We were asked whether we would take on this responsibility. "I have not 'heard' from God that this is in accordance with His will, and I am thus sorry to say we cannot do it." I replied.

As Marianne and I were meditating on whether this could be what God wanted us to do, we were reminded of Marianne's vision from 1984 (Ref Chapter 56), including the dark and difficult jungle walk with Jesus, and how we finally arrived at a large wheat field. As we reflected on all of this, the difficult years of Sonia's disease could very well be likened to the difficult and dark jungle trek, but at the same time, Jesus had been there and helped us through it all. Suddenly the picture became clearer and I realized that the great wheat field was the 1.2 billion strong not evangelized Muslim world, and that God wanted us to go to them. Only then, after about 13 years, I realized that God had told Marianne in 1984 that we were going to a new mission field.

There and then we decided to let the Assemblies of God World Mission know that we were ready to take on the mission work in Central Asia.

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