-written by Matt Clotfelter
On May 15, 1991 my world changed forever.
I sat with my family and friends, preparing to board a plane for the first time since I was an infant. My family was leaving everything we had ever known, and we were going to Thailand. My parents were answering God’s call to be missionaries. We had spent the last two years raising support and making plans. Our stuff had been packed and shipped in 55 gallon barrels more than a month earlier.
That day we stepped out into the unknown. I was unsure of what my future looked like. As a 12 year old, everything I knew as normal was about to change. I had an aunt, uncle, and two cousins who lived there already. We knew we had our family to depend on, but we didn’t know what other friendships we would have once we got there.
After being in the air for 24+ hours and a 12 hour train ride, we set foot in our new hometown. My cousin began to introduce me to some of the other missionary kids living in town, but everything just seemed so different. I struggled to see how I would fit in.
As summer progressed, I began to feel more at home with my new friends and felt like I belonged. I still couldn’t speak the language, but my friends would help me. A year turned into six and it seemed to go so fast. By the time my 6 years overseas were finished, including 4 years of high school, Thailand had become more like home for me than the United States. So many life benchmarks happened there that I still call Thailand home to this day. I would never trade my time there for anything–it made me who I am today.
June 15, 1997 my world changed forever.
My family returned permanently to the United States. My life was moving forward and more changes would come.
Most of us approach change in our lives with great apprehension. We are unsure of what to expect, we have fears, sometimes we have answers, but often, we have more questions.
I imagine when Abram had some fear during his encounter with God in Genesis 12. In verse 1, God calls him to leave everything he knows. Not only does God tell him to leave, He says, “go to the land that I will show you.” God tells Abram to punch his plane ticket and get onboard the flight, but Abram has no idea where he will land. God says He “will show” Abram the new place. He calls Abram to just trust Him for the new place to call home.
Abram left everything, only taking his family and his processions. His extended family stayed; the life he had known stayed. Everything was going to be new. He was trusting God to lead the way.
When we left the life we had known, our family knew we would have to rally together to learn to adapt. We were willing to figure it out, so that we could serve God where He was calling. Throughout the time we were serving, we met so many amazing people. Many of them I have stayed connected with. Many of them I would call “my family.”
Through my community, God changed me forever, and it was all for my good (see Romans 8:28). This Sunday we’re talking about how change happens in Biblical community. As we look towards Sunday, let’s prepare ourselves for what God is going to do by listening to these songs together.
Matt Clotfelter is married to Amie and they have 2 children, Tyler and Marcus. Matt serves as a deacon as well as volunteers in the SoHills nursery, preschool ministry, and preteen ministry.