Have you ever started wondering if you are actually really crazy? Ever wonder if everyone around you is looking on and thinking… “What are they doing???”
I’ve recently started wondering these things. And I can’t say that I don’t understand why. Our family just brought home a third child (through adoption) and now we are uprooting our entire family to pursue a dream that is seemingly unstable. If all works out, it will not be unstable, but if it doesn’t, then we are going to be without a job and a home, with no where to go. Let me explain further, in case you don’t know…
Billy was chosen to complete a residency program with The Austin Stone, a thriving church in Austin, Texas. The residency program exists to educate worship leaders in both spiritual and practical ways. Billy will have a mentor of sorts and will work alongside him, learning from him, making disciples, leading others in worship, and in a way, experiencing much of what he never got to do before being thrust into full-time ministry at our current church.
It sounds all good up until the whole part about Billy having to quit his current job, move us all to Austin, oh and he’s responsible for raising his own support. By that I mean raising a salary through monthly commitments. To be a resident with The Austin Stone, Billy has to get people to commit to giving… and that amount will have to come up to $3,600 a month for 2 years in order for us to survive.
Anyone who lives in the United States right now knows that you don’t quit a perfectly good job to pursue something that isn’t a sure deal. Of course, it wasn’t an option for us to attempt this without Billy telling our current church so that they could start looking for his replacement.
It’s scary, I won’t lie. And while I’m being honest, part of me is seriously doubting that this will happen for us.
Why would we do this?
The Ugly Truth
I think it’s important to explain why we accepted this adventure.
Billy and I are obviously quite adventurous, you can tell that just by looking at us, but our days of being reckless are well behind us. Before kids we had no hesitations about packing up and trekking across the US in a van to play music, or moving to a new state for a much needed new start. Three kids later and 5 years settled into our current town… we’ve gotten comfortable and definitely more levelheaded. Don’t think that this wasn’t an absolutely hard decision for us!
Billy has loved The Austin Stone for a while – he has attended conferences there, looked up to both the teaching and worship, and has for years been learning their worship songs to play for our current congregation – so when he heard about the residency program there, he began to wonder if that was something he could benefit from. He sent an email and basically asked if he should apply if he has a family to support. He received a call (months later, I believe) from a current employee at The Austin Stone, who had just a few years prior moved his entire family to Austin to be a part of the residency program. After that conversation, Billy felt encouraged to apply, but we still weren’t 100% sure that is was something that he should pursue.
Billy and I began praying and fasting for guidance. We didn’t even want to apply if it wasn’t something that we were supposed to do. After several days, we had our answer: APPLY. I immediately began thinking that this was probably just a test in obedience. We would apply and that would be it. They would pick someone else and we could continue in our current area of ministry. No big deal, right?
Billy completed the application process. We earnestly prayed that God’s will would be done. And if this isn’t what we were supposed to do, then someone else would be picked. (They were only going to pick a few residents at the most.) Close the door, God, if we shouldn’t pursue it. The other side of that coin is… if he was chosen, then we had to accept that as a YES from God.
Billy was in contact with his would-be mentor, and he told Billy that we should come visit, and if it seemed like a good fit, then Billy would be his one pick for the next two years. We went to Austin. Austin was previously one of my least favorite places on earth, but it was suddenly appealing. We attended one of their weekly worship ministry team meetings and our hearts just started to soften. More than that, I sat in that room on the back row holding back tears, because God had answered my specific request. I wanted 3 signs. And all 3 were in the devotional that Aaron Ivey taught that day. Of course, Billy was picked, out who knows how many.
We knew it was crazy and it would be so difficult, not only because of the task of raising a salary, but because we were about to go get a new son and because it meant leaving everything that we had worked so hard to build. BUT we also knew what we had prayed, and we knew that we were given specific signs. We still needed to go to China, so we waited to fully make up our minds until we were back home with Ezra.
It is the hardest decision I think we’ve had to make so far. Yes, Billy looks up to The Austin Stone and all the guys he will get to work with. Yes, Austin is a super cool city and we will probably fit in better there. But our friends and our families aren’t there. Our familiar Sunday morning faces aren’t there. The community that worked so hard to help us bring Ezra home isn’t there.
At this point, staying isn’t an option. FBC is already looking for someone to lead them after Billy’s last day on August 16th. It’s probably obvious that going to Austin is the only option right now. That’s what we are hoping and praying for.
So why would we do this? Because our lives are not our own. We have told God, “Anything.” And this is what He has placed in our path right now. Hopefully, I’ve done it justice with this explanation and cleared up any confusion (or hard-feelings). We love our community so much, but we must go where God is sending us.
We are still lacking monthly commitments and partners to support our ministry there. In plain speak, we don’t have enough money raised. This is very humbling to be asking for money again, especially so soon after needing so much help to get Ezra home. If you would like to give monthly so that our family can continue on this journey, please visit BillyWiginton.com/Partner to learn how you can do that. We are asking for partners to commit to $100 a month, but really any amount would be so helpful and appreciated. If we don’t get $3,600 a month committed by August 5, we will not be going to The Austin Stone. (We also won’t be staying at FBC, so don’t think not giving will keep us here. 😛 Haha!)
If you can’t give – You can pray. Prayer is work! And we desperately need prayer that these commitments will come through in time. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to our family. We love you!