Thursday, December 30, 2010


When most people approach the New Year's holiday, they look forward - they make resolutions, put the past behind them and focus on starting fresh. Those things can be very good and very healthy; sometimes hitting a milestone like the change of the year can challenge us to make important life changes or set goals that can move us in the right direction. I tend to be a very forward-thinking person (being the planner that I am), so usually I follow along and think ahead at this time of year.

Right now, however, I am finding myself looking back more than looking forward. 2010 was an important year in our lives and God has been teaching me to depend on Him in new ways this past year. Rather than only focusing forward, this new year's I want to resolve to remember. I want to look back on 2010 and hold fast to what I've already learned. I want to build on what's already begun and avoid the tendency to forget. I so easily forget God's faithfulness in my life, the changes He has begun in my heart, and his sacrifice that should transform my life and actions each day.

Looking back on 2010, here are some highlights from life and learning that I especially want to remember in the coming year...

  • Nate and I celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary. The first year was fun, challenging and full of lots of learning! We love being married, but we also learn new things about marriage and each other every day. If we do not become complacent, this learning will continue for a lifetime.

  • We took the leap of faith and began the first steps to apply to serve with WorldVenture back in April. We hit some snags early on and the process felt slow. God taught me more about trusting Him and trusting in His timing.

  • We moved to a new apartment...again. The constant transition of living in 4 apartments over the last 4 years (both before and after marriage) has helped us to hold loosely to our immediate circumstances and hold more tightly to God's constancy in our lives.

  • We had a few opportunities to travel, rest and relax...Door County in March, Grand Cayman in June, and a few other short trips. We continue to value the importance of getting away and resting. Even when this will be more difficult down the road, we will continue to make this a priority to care for our souls.

  • We were accepted to WorldVenture and appointed to Austria in November. What we had been anticipating for years finally is becoming a reality. Now the real trusting begins! Since appointment, I have been learning patience as the process slowly gets underway and doesn't always go as quickly as I would like.

I look back on 2010 and am thankful for what we've learned. In 2011, I resolve to remember these things and continue to build on them.

[image courtesy of]

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Climbing

We're spending Christmas with my family (Bethany's) in Atlanta at my brother's house. This morning, the whole family piled into 2 cars and went on an adventure to the climbing gym. It was really fun for Nate and I to see the kids try out something new that we really enjoy. All four kids (Meg - 8, Nate - 6, Kate - 4, Caleb - 3) got on the climbing wall and did a great job! Meg was especially impressive, making it to the top on several difficult routes (a 5.7+ and 5.8).

Watching the kids fly up the wall made me think about the fearlessness of children. There are times when I see a resilience and boldness in kids that I think we lose as adults. As we get older and learn more about the world, we learn that there is a lot out there to be scared of and sometimes that holds us back from taking risks. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to being young, naive and fearless.

Stepping out in faith (or climbing a tough route) forces us to confront our fears and really ask the question, "Do I trust God?" As we begin our journey to Austria, a lot of fears and unknowns creep into my mind. How long will it take us to get there? Will I ever be able to learn a new language? What if we are there for years and never really make an impact? My prayer is that as I acknowledge and confront these fears and learn to trust God more through this journey, I exhibit the fearless, trusting faith of a child.

"People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them." - Mark 10: 13 - 16

Photos from the climbing gym...

The four kids, climbing next to each other.

Nate sends a 5.9 route.

Looks like the siblings are racing up the wall!

Caleb, Kate, Nate and Meg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Most people who know me well know that I don't like to wait for things. Unfortunately, this has been a pretty consistent part of my personality since I was young (and I'm sure my parents would agree with that statement).

I remember a time when I was about 8 or 9 years old when I wanted a keyboard for my birthday. I went to the store with Mom and Dad to pick one out and there were two options: one keyboard had the best features (it could record to cassette tape and had all these fancy instrument options on it), but I would need to order it that day and wait a few weeks for it to arrive; the other keyboard wasn't quite as nice, but I could walk out of the store with it that day. I bet you can guess which keyboard I chose. And about a week later, I remember being disappointed that I didn't wait and hold out for the better option.

For me, that memory has always represented my struggle with delayed gratification. Even when I know it's best to wait and be patient, it doesn't come naturally. And working in the corporate world and the events industry hasn't made this part of my personality any better! "Corporate America" has trained me even more to make things happen NOW and to expect responses and action to happen immediately.

All this to day, God has been challenging me to wait on Him and His timing. Since we were appointed with WorldVenture in November, I have been eager to jump in to raising our financial support, getting the word out about our ministry, and making progress towards getting to Vienna. But instead, I have had to spend time preparing, reading, and waiting for those steps to happen at the right time...which is not yet.

I was struck recently when I was thinking about Psalm 40:31 - 32, which says, "they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (ESV) The Bible does not say "they who wait for the Lord will just barely make it through" or "they who wait for the Lord will grumble and survive". Instead, it says that waiting helps us grow and be strengthened. It develops perseverance and endurance.

At a time when we are reflecting on the birth of Christ, I am reminded all the more to trust in God's timing. If the God of the universe can miraculously bring his son into the world to save us, just when the time was right, how much more is He in control of my life and this process that we're going through? How could I not trust a God who has already been victorious and accomplished miracles?

May we all learn to trust God and wait on Him more each day. His timing is perfect!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vision Trip to Vienna

We have just begun planning a 2-week visit to Vienna in April and even though it is still a few months away, I'm getting excited about our time there!

We will fly there the day before Palm Sunday and will spend two weeks over the Easter holiday with the WorldVenture team. The focus of our trip will be casting a vision for our long term ministry. First, we'll attend a 4-day retreat with the other missionaries, where we will build relationships with our future teammates and gain a deeper understanding of ministry already taking place. These will end up being longstanding friendships and meeting them for the first time will be exciting!

After the retreat, we’ll spend 10 days in Vienna. We'll get to see and visit a variety of churches that we will serve when we move to Austria and our time there will help us to understand the spiritual needs and challenges in a more in-depth way. We will also spend time taking photos and video to share with supporters back in the states.

Although each of us has visited Vienna before, these 2 weeks will be crucial in helping us to lay a foundation for our longterm ministry. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to experience the city together for the first time and to make new connections that we can continue to cultivate over the next year so that by the time we arrive in Austria, we will have already gained some ground.

To fund the trip, we need to raise $3,000 to cover (2) roundtrip tickets and other expenses. We still have a few months to reach out to family and friends for support and we're praying that God would provide. If you would like to partner with us by making a financial donation, you can click here, and choose “Johnson, Nathan & Bethany” from the drop down menu.

Please pray...
  • for the logistics of the trip - that they come together and that we are wise in how we lay out our 2 weeks there
  • that we are able to connect with the right people when we are there
  • for the financial resources for us to book our tickets in a month and for additional provision to fund the trip

Monday, December 13, 2010

Planning...sort of

One question that we get asked a lot is "what's your timeline?" or "when are you leaving for Austria?" Usually, this opens the door for us to share with friends and family what the process looks like for a missionary getting to the field. This process is a lot more complex than I think I had originally imagined and as we move along this path, we learn more and more. Being the planner that I am, it has been important for me to have a (rough) time line in place...but I am also being challenged to be patient and hold to the plans loosely, knowing everything is ultimately in God's hands.

So, without further ado, here is our approximate time line from now until we (hopefully) get to Austria:

  • Now: We are completing required reading for WorldVenture, preparing our communications materials, and informally talking to people about our plans.

  • February 3 - 6: We go to WorldVenture headquarters to complete Partner Development Training, where we learn about how to go about raising money for our ministry.

  • February 7: We begin sharing our story more formally and raising our financial support and finding prayer partners.

  • March 8: Bethany ends full-time employment to focus on raising support and communications with partners (handling administrative stuff)

  • July 1: We finish up our time in Wheaton, IL and move to Minnesota. (This involves selling our furniture and putting our other belongings in storage.) We spend a few months in Minnesota meeting with friends and family and raising support at Friendship Church, where Nate grew up.

  • October 1: We wrap up our time in Minnesota and road trip out to Connecticut, stopping in Ohio and a few other spots along the way to see friends and family. We spend a few months at the Covenant Church of Easton, where I grew up, and with friends/family in CT.

  • Fall: When we reach approx. 60 - 80% of our support, we attend a 6-week cross-cultural living and language acquisition training in North Carolina.

  • Mid-January 2012: We attend WorldVenture's Renewal Conference, where we connect with WV staff and missionaries and spend a few days worshiping together.

  • January 15ish, 2012: We wrap up our time in Connecticut and road trip down the east coast, visiting friends/family in Virginia, DC and Nashville. We end up in Atlanta and spend a few months with my brother and his family (raising support down there, as well).

  • March or April, 2012: We see where we are at with financial support. If we are close, we begin preparing to leave. If not, we start the circuit again and meeting with more potential donors.

  • Sometime in the Spring of 2012: We are shooting for departure for Austria around this time. We can leave the country as soon as we have our support raised and we complete a week of final pre-field training at WorldVenture.
The transition seems daunting at time, but I am at peace knowing that as we approach each step of the process, God will be gracious to prepare us and provide for us. He knows our needs even more than we do and He knows what He wants to teach us as we venture out in faith.

I hope this time line answers some questions! Disclaimer: All the dates and plans are subject to change, if God decides to change them :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Look Mom...I'm a radio star!

When we were in Colorado at WorldVenture, we were interviewed by Hans Finzel, the organization's president, about our decision to serve God in Austria. It was a really fun experience to participate in a radio show recording in a studio - complete with fancy microphones and headsets (the production geek in me definitely came out...) But beyond that, we enjoyed putting into words our experience being led to missions and the need we see in Austria.

Our interview was edited and posted as an episode of WorldVenture's on-going podcast, Missions on the Frontline.
You can listen to the final version here: Mission on the Frontline - 12/1/2010

Comment on this post to let us know how we did! And please - be nice :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Europe?

GemStone Media of Greater Europe Mission recently created this brief 50-second video about the spiritual need in Europe. Though the video is simple, I think it points to an important fact that is sometimes overlooked - Europe can be considered "post-Christian". There are churches on every corner, but most are tourist attractions. There is very little evidence in Europe of an understanding of what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Europe didn't used to be seen as a mission field, but that is slowly changing. I am encouraged that the need is Europe is being spread and that other missions organizations are sending workers.

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Luke 10:2