Here is the beginning of my interview with Heather Ricks. If you missed Friday’s post, click HERE to catch up.
CAROL: I know you are planning to move on mission to Africa with your family of four. Help us understand how you got started in missions.
HEATHER: When Jason and I first got married, we dedicated our lives to doing ministry. Soon Jason found a job at Reach Out Youth Solutions, he was placed at Oxford Baptist church doing youth ministry. This was quite a stretch for me because we had to live off support. I’ll have to admit that living off support is scary. **This is important to note, because this had a huge impact on me for future ministry decisions.
Often, we have this expectation for God to provide for us how we want Him to provide for us—such as raising 100% of support, having money fall from the sky at unexpected moments, etc… But, needless to say, that doesn’t happen all the time, and it didn’t happen that way for Jason and me. We did NOT see our support come pouring in. In fact, even though we had a house provided for us by the church, we still were not able to meet our financial needs—food, insurance and utility expenses. This made it very difficult, because we knew we were doing what God wanted us to do. But it did leave us a little confused.
When our support bottomed out, around two months after our son Jeremy was born, we were forced to move in with Jason’s parents. This was a very dark time for me. Though I had a roof over my head and food on the table, I was left reeling, wondering what happened. Did we do something wrong? Was ministry worth this? Why was God not providing for us (overlooking that He had)? By this time, our friends were getting married, getting good jobs, making lots of money, getting nice cars, buying houses, living the American Dream. We were the losers with no money, living with parents. I was embarrassed. I let society dictate who I was and blamed God on my circumstances.
What we thought would only be a few months of living with the in-laws, turned into a long, drawn-out eighteen months of living there. My hope was that one day we would make enough money to buy our own house (a worthy goal, I thought). But God gave us another decision to make. Jason came home from work one day and said, “Heather, they are making some changes at Reach-Out. They offered me another job making ‘x’ amount of dollars, but if I don’t take it, I have to quit.”
Now, the ‘x’ amount of dollars was more money than what I had seen in any paycheck of mine, but what Jason said next hit home with me. He said, “This job they are offering me is not my passion. It’s not what God made me to do. If I don’t take this job, I don’t know what we’ll do, but I don’t feel right in taking it. Please pray about it with me, and see if God is telling you the same thing.” Well, I knew what I wanted to say, “Take it, you idiot! We’ll finally be able to buy a house!” But that wasn’t what God was saying for us to do. I knew that. We both agreed that Jason should not take the other job at Reach-Out, thus ending the small amount of money we were already getting, and spiraling us into the unknown.
We finally found a house and put in an offer. The morning after, I prayed, “God, I’m so excited, but, if you don’t want us to get this house, then please don’t let us get it. I don’t want to do anything out of Your will.” A couple of hours later, our realtor called and said that someone else outbid us. I knew there must have been a reason for God pulling the house out from under us, but I cried. (If you hadn’t noticed, I did a lot of crying). I was tired of being stuck where I was.
Shortly after that, God moved us to Portland, Oregon. We stepped out in faith. We lived there four years when I found I was expecting our second son. Jason called his friend in Wyoming to tell him of my pregnancy. Our friend started telling Jason about the church he was planting in Laramie, WY. Jason’s heart began to burn because this was exactly what he wanted to do! Without Jason’s prompting, our friend even said, “This is a little weird me asking you this, but are you looking for a place in ministry, because it sounds like you’re a good fit.”
Jason got off the phone and said, “Heather, how do you feel about moving to Wyoming?” My first reaction was, “Uhm, Honey, you only called Raul to tell him about me being pregnant, how does that translate into us moving to Wyoming?”
There was a lot at stake here for me. I LOVED Oregon. It is the most beautiful state I’ve ever lived. We loved hiking, camping, skiing on the weekends. I had my house I wanted so badly. And the catch about moving to Wyoming is that we had to live off support again. That was a HUGE no-no for me. It didn’t work out so well the first time, so why would I ever go back to doing that again?
Because I was so comfortable, it was hard for me to pray for us to leave Oregon and move to a place where the antelope out numbered the people three to one. But I felt God telling me that I could trust Him, because He is always faithful. Not only was there a place for Jason to do ministry in Laramie, but God had a place for me too. He had bigger blessings in store. I knew I had to trust God with everything, even if it meant we had to live off support again. (It’s funny, because I told Jason, “After this, no more living off support. Uh-uh. I’ll do it one more time, but won’t do it anymore!” Never say never!)
We moved to Wyoming and everything fell into place with perfect timing. This time, we raised about 80% of our support, and I was able to keep my job from Oregon (because I worked from home). God is so cool that way.
In Wyoming, Jason did what he loved, and we made a great community of friends. I was even able to help Jason out and do other ministry roles. We lived in Wyoming around 4 ½ years. Jason and I had no plans to leave. But God…
Join me Wednesday for Part 2 of my interview.
Would you please pray for my Memaw? She is 92 and fell and broke her leg on Saturday. She will be having surgery to place a pin in it sometime today. Your prayers would be coveted. I love you all!