I remember praying that classic prayer, ‘Lord if you are there, I promise I’ll try and find you.’ My first personal encounter with God was in my room on my own. I’d been reading John’s Gospel where Jesus is praying for all believers to be one in him (John 17:20–23), and I was mulling that over and talking to God about it in a very matter of fact kind of way, and suddenly I noticed that tears started to roll down my left cheek. I was suddenly aware of a presence with me in the room as God met with me in a very personal way. I was truly speechless. It was peaceful and gentle, a precious moment when I knew God was real. It’s been something I’ve held on to ever since.
‘We didn’t want to just float through life’
Anna: The first steps on our journey to serving through Wycliffe also started in Turkey. Timothy had studied linguistics and the son of one of the hotel guests worked for Wycliffe, documenting unwritten languages, analysing the grammar and phonology. That was the first time we heard of Wycliffe and it really resonated with Timothy as an amazing application of the degree which he had just finished.
We had a desire to serve and to live our lives for a purpose other than just pleasing ourselves
Timothy: We got married and then went to Australia for a year. There we visited a friend’s church and met some visiting missionaries from Indonesia. They were due to go to the Wycliffe centre in Melbourne to give a talk about discipling Christians in a Muslim context, and they invited us to come along. We were given a little tour around and saw a New Testament being typeset. Then when we came back to England for us both to do our postgraduate teaching qualifications, we went to our closest home group and the couple who hosted it had a son serving with Wycliffe. So having never heard of Wycliffe before, we bumped into Wycliffe people three times in a year. God was guiding us.
Anna: We both didn’t want to just float through life, we both had a desire to serve and to live our lives for a purpose other than just pleasing ourselves. But as we were thinking about Wycliffe, we came across the scripture from Ezekiel 3:5 where God said ‘You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel’ – that is, our own people.
God has been so faithful to us
Timothy: I went to talk to my Pastor and he told me to get my teaching qualification under my belt and then to see. We both got jobs in the same school, and we started having our three children. So for 10 years the Wycliffe dream was on the shelf, but not forgotten about.