You can understand why someone might move from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Australia. That’s what Vision’s Eric Skattebo and his wife Jean did. But to take your family from Milwaukie to Romania is much more unusual. When Pastor Brad Hayes first got the invitation to visit in 1996, he wasn’t interested at all.
Talking to Eric and Jean Skattebo on Vision’s The Story, Hayes explained that at the time he was Pastor of the Living Hope Church, and his family, including five children under 12, were happy where they were. But his friend asked him to pray about the idea. “Of course I said I would, but I didn’t. Shame on me.”
He gave his friend three reasons why he wouldn’t go. “First, my wife wouldn’t want me to go. Second, I don’t have the money. And the third thing was, because I was a bivocational Pastor, I had a painting business on the side. I had a very large job that I was about to do, the largest job I ever had.”
His friend had also mentioned he was leaving in just three weeks. The idea of leaving the country so soon scared the daylights out of him. But when he mentioned the invitation to his wife, she was enthusiastic. “You have to go Brad,” she told him. “I can really see you going to Romania, to visit with those street children!”
The very next day Brad got a letter from the owner of the River Hills house he was about to paint. He had become convinced Brad would be too busy to focus on the job and had already contracted someone else. “In case you think you’re going to fight this,” he wrote, “just remember I’m a lawyer.”
As Hayes began to pray about it, the idea grew in his heart. Soon enough, he bought the plane tickets and announced his plans. “Then people just began to give me money. And within about two weeks I was given 3,500 dollars. I didn’t ask for a dime.”
As Jean pointed out, in a matter of days God transformed Brad’s three excuses into openings. “Isn’t that just how God works,” she said, “Especially when He wants us to do something for Him? And we say ‘but Lord’, and He says ‘No but. Just obey and follow me’.”
Before he knew it Brad was in Romania, meeting up with his friend’s group. The welcome he received from the locals gave him a strange new feeling. “Even though I’d never been there before, and didn’t know anything about Romania, I just felt like I was at home. And so while I was there, the Lord began to help me to understand just how much he loved the Romanian people.”
Brad could never have imagined choosing to live in another country. “I just went to see,” he said. “I was curious. But before I left the States to go to Romania on that first trip, I was very afraid. And I realised I was afraid to die, because I didn’t know what would happen to me in another country. And I loved my family, and I loved my life here.”
“But I made a decision, before I left for Romania. I said ‘Lord, ok. I’m afraid to die, but I tell you what. I give you permission. If you want to take my life, and allow me to die in Romania, then so be it. I sense your leading here, and I’m willing to go.”
God had got him there, but what could convince someone to leave their life behind to live in a foreign country, and bring their whole family with them? In his conversation with Eric and Jean Skattebo, Brad Hayes described the harrowing moment that lead him to commit his life to a cause, and how his family eventually came to share his passion. He also spoke about the incredible impact his rapidly growing Ministry has had.
There’s much more to this story of the unexpected places obedience can take you. Listen to the podcast below.
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