By Barbie Perks —
Reading life differently. I was excited to see that this would be a theme for the next season in Godspace. I am in a place where I have to begin a different life to what I have been living. At the age of 61, my husband and I have relocated in order for him to begin a new phase in his career. We moved from Port Elizabeth, a large city on the coast of South Africa, inland to the small town of Iringa in the mountainous southern highlands of Tanzania.
The words of St Brendan’s Prayer, “Help me to journey beyond the familiar, and into the unknown. Give me the faith to leave old ways, and break fresh ground with You” have been resonating deeply in my heart because that is just what I have done – I have left home and country, family, friends and familiar faces, and moved to another country. I’m beginning to set up a new home, learn a new language and culture, encountering different faces whom I hope will in time become new friends.
I’m beginning to have a fresh appreciation for the women in the Bible who left all that was familiar to go live in a strange land; like Sara who moved with Abram when God called him to leave Ur for Canaan. Like Rebecca, who went away to marry a stranger in Isaac. Or Leah and Rachel, who returned to Canaan with Jacob. Or Mary, who was forced to go live in Egypt when Herod threatened the life of her Child.
Here in Iringa I have been meeting people in the Christian community who also have left home and country to come and serve the Lord in various ways. I am hoping to learn more of their lives and missions as time goes on.
On a spiritual level, there are times when God calls me to leave behind the familiar places and practices of faith to journey to a deeper place with Him, to go into the unknown, to place myself in His hands, trusting Him to see me through to the end. This is scary to someone who likes to be in control of her own life. I always find it disturbing when God calls me to examine myself. These calls which have come at various times in my life, are not generally convenient, nor are they particularly welcome, but when I am obedient to go on the journeys, such richness results. New insights into old problems come, sometimes new life is breathed into difficult relationships or circumstances, and always a new appreciation and thankfulness for the kindness and mercy of the Lord.
I am filled with anticipation to see how God will lead me in this different season of life, and how He will use me in this community. It might be just a period of rest, it might be a period of preparation for a fresh and exciting ministry opportunity. Life will be read differently and whatever it may be, “Christ of the mysteries, I trust You to be stronger than each storm within me. I will trust in the darkness and know that my times, even now, are in Your hand. Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow, make my obedience count for You.”
Bio: My name is Barbie Perks, I have been married to Mike for 35 years, and we have 2 adult sons. My oldest son is married, and we are blessed with a grandson and a granddaughter who will be arriving in July. My youngest son is engaged to be married next year. I have been teaching Bible study for over 25 years, using the Precept Ministries inductive study material. Mike is a local preacher in the Methodist church, and I have been involved in various ways over the years both at church and with Scripture Union.