How did you make the decision to serve long-term?
[Response from Laura] Well in order to answer that, we have to tell you a little bit about how I met my husband. At the time I was in college as an RA and I had several Southeast Asian girls on my hall. I just really fell in love with them and their culture, and I actually had the privilege of leading one of them to faith over the course of a couple of years.
So I think my heart was already leaning towards Southeast Asia, and that's when I heard about this trip to go to Southeast Asia.
On that trip I met a Chaz, who is now my husband, and we spent time working together overseas on that trip for about a month. During the trip I fell in love with Southeast Asia and of course, this guy.
The work was hard on that trip overseas, but I just saw such a deep need for the Gospel there; the “lostness” was so much greater than I had ever imagined. And so I think the Lord just started molding my heart in preparation to working there.
We didn't get married until two years after that trip. I was an elementary school teacher at the time. I guess you could say that I was on mission in my 5th grade classroom! Chaz was in student ministry. We were in this season of life for a couple of years, which was a great time for us to prepare relationally and spiritually before moving overseas. During that time God really shaped our character and our faith in a lot of different ways.
[Response from Chaz] Like Laura said, I was in college, in seminary actually, but I always thought that I didn't really want to be a pastor. But I just agreed to surrender to what I believed was God's plan for me – to go to seminary and be trained for whatever ministry the Lord wanted me to be a part of.
But I was actually in preaching class when I felt like the Lord confirming a call to go overseas. We were supposed to be critiquing a visiting pastor on campus, and he was preaching about missions. I was supposed to be critiquing his message, but I just couldn't. I had to put my pen down and respond to what he was saying, rather than critiquing how he was saying it.
The process and decision to move overseas was gradual for sure. It was seasons of life like Laura had as an RA for a group of Southeast Asian girls in college. It was moments like I had, listening to a pastor peach a message about mission work. Those seasons and those moments along with a lot of prayer eventually led us to serve long-term overseas.
Chaz and Laura are serving in Southeast Asia with the IMB. For their safety, their names have been changed in this article.