This is the second part to my interview with Heather Ricks. Be sure to read the Part 1, if you missed it.
CAROL: How did you go from happily living in Wyoming to leaving for Africa?
HEATHER: A few years after we moved to Wyoming, we had friends from Portland who were driving through on the way to missionary training in Colorado Springs. They were moving to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to help start a school to train pastors.
During Mark and Alyssa’s stay with us, they showed us a video of their ministry. When we watched that video, we both knew that’s what we were supposed to do (though we didn’t tell each other for a while). This came out of the blue for us; we were not expecting this. For two months, Jason was too afraid to tell me what God had put on his heart. When we first were married, I literally told Jason, “I’ll move anywhere with you, honey, but I’ll never move to Africa.” So, needless to say, he was a little reluctant to tell me that God was urging him to help train leaders in Africa.
“I’ll move anywhere with you, honey, but I’ll never move to Africa.”
About this same time, we were reading a book on missions, and God began to change my heart about being willing to move anywhere. I kept praying and felt there was an opportunity for Jason in Africa—though I desperately tried to put that aside and not tell Jason. Well, the inevitable happened, and Jason finally came to me and told me what God put on his heart. To his relief and surprise, I told him that I had been feeling the same thing.
I wish to say that it was an easy decision after that, but it wasn’t. It was a constant battle of my own wants and desires.
I had to sacrifice the comforts of an income one more time and live on the faith of support. But God NEVER failed us. He used the opportunities of us having little to show His strength. That is what kept me knowing that I would be okay. God is ALWAYS faithful—just maybe not in the way we expect Him to be.
One stumbling block for me moving to Africa was giving up owning our own house. As I said before, that was huge for me. I loved being able to decorate my home the way I wanted, and having that kind of ‘investment’. Another obstacle to me moving was not feeling comfortable with moving the kids to Africa. My excuse was, “If we didn’t have any kids, I would feel so much better. But I don’t want them to be unsafe.” The excuse about the kids was my biggest excuse, though the others would have kept me from going, as well.
Jason spoke truth to me (many times, but this one in particular changed me). He said, “You know what, Heather, you’re right. Our family may or may not be safe in Africa, but that shouldn’t matter. God doesn’t promise our safety. God sees the bigger picture, and it is His will that is done no matter what happens. We just have to be willing to go. We have to sacrifice our dreams, even our safety, knowing that God is in control, and whatever happens to us is for the better.”
I knew Jason was right. There was a great need for teachers in Africa, and God gifted Jason with the ability to teach. I had no excuse. You would think all of this would’ve caused me to begrudgingly go, but that wasn’t the case. By God’s grace, He did a work in my heart. Soon, I began to want to go to Africa, not just feel the tug in my heart. I began to want to see Jason use his gifts among the African people.
Sure, it was still hard for me to sacrifice my dreams of owning a house, growing roots in one place, and having comfort. That’s something I have to choose to sacrifice on a day-by-day basis. Some days are easier than other days, but God asks for our all. These things are such a minute sacrifice compared to God’s riches in heaven. I have to keep an eternal focus even when the road gets tough, because it’s been a tough road for us to go to Africa. I keep telling myself that we must be doing something right, because it’s been a battle the whole way. But we are still excited that God is giving us the opportunity to go!
Wow! What a powerful testimony! Stay tuned – there’s more to come! Hang on for the 3rd part to my interview in the days to come.