God´s calling through a five year old boy
– How do you start a new mission agency?
Our family had just gathered for dinner when our five year old boy, Eirik, suddenly raised this question. Lots of thoughts rushed through our minds. Was this the sign we had been praying for? Did this mean that we were supposed to leave Azerbaijan where we had served the Lord for the last four years? What would the future bring?
Our tentmaking history in some way starts four years earlier - in 1996. We were on our way to Azerbaijan – the oil rich republic on the west coast of the Caspian Sea. Together with another family we were the pioneer workers from our organization.
While preparing to go overseas, we met regularly with the other couple to discuss the visions and dreams we had for our work in Azerbaijan. One day we talked about the possibility of going as tentmakers, although this was a model our agency was not used to.
While talking it was like something new was created in us. We were all excited by this idea and decided to present it to the leaders of our organization. Unfortunately we were too late. The plans for the work in Azerbaijan were already made, and could not be altered.
We were not too disappointed about this decision. After all the thoughts about tentmaking were just ideas. And in many ways it would be safer and easier to get the regular income that our organization would provide.
The thoughts about tentmaking did however not disappear. After two years in Azerbaijan we made a new attempt. Our family was to be the only one from our organisation remaining in Ganja, Azerbaijan´s second biggest city. We saw this as an opportunity to change our way of working. Thuswe wrote a document to our organization´s executives suggesting that “our” part of Azerbaijan could be made a tentmaker region. But again the answer was no.
Another year went by. Then came the summer and fall of 1999. A tourist group came to visit us. After worshipping the Lord and reading from the Bible together, we closed the evening in prayer. After the final “Amen”, one of the ladies in the group said she had a message for us. She was shaking as she told us that soon our fight would be over. At the time we did not know for sure that she was talking about us going into a new kind of ministry. But her divine message gave us encouragement. Maybe our ministry would change after all. Maybe we would be able to serve the Lord as tentmakers in Azerbaijan.
In January a surprising letter arrived from our organization´s head office asking why our tentmaking plans in Ganja had not materialized.
– They themselves put an end to our plans! So why do they ask, we exclaimed. The letter brought our tentmaking vision to the surface again. By this time a new thought had also come to our minds. For some reason we had begun to think about starting a Norwegian tentmaking organization. The idea seemed quite odd in the beginning. Why would God ask us, serving him in another country, to start something new in Norway? We thought through the idea – investigating whether this was just our own thoughts or a calling from God. Maybe everything just came from us. Maybe we had just become ambitious. Maybe it was a temptation – something that would shift our focus from our ministry among the secularized Muslims in this former Soviet Republic.
In prayer we asked for God’s guidance and the answer came quite instantly. At this time we were reading devotions from Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest”. For several days the texts spoke about how many Christians do nothing with the divine calling they get from the Lord. How they might write down the plans that God shows them, but then just store the documents in a drawer doing nothing with them. Every day we felt like the devotions were speaking directly into our lives. But still we hesitated. Still we wanted to be even surer that this really was God’s will. Thus we decided to ask for a sign. Our prayer went something like this:
- Dear Lord. If you want us to start this new work you must send a person to us who tells us to start a new organisation. If you do, we will go ahead. If you don’t, we will do nothing.
We had shared our ideas with no one. My wife and I had talked about it only after our kids had gone to bed. We were sure that no one knew anything. Therefore God could send anyone to confirm that the idea was from him.
The sign we asked for
The year 2000 was a leap year. On the 29th of February, we woke up early.
– I sense that something special will happen today. Maybe someone will come to visit us, my wife told me as I was struggling to get out of bed.
After breakfast I went to work in the micro credit fund that our organization had started in Ganja. My wife had her quite time with the Lord. Her eyes fell on the last verse of Psalm 20. In Norwegian the verse reads: “Save, Lord; Let the king hear us the day we call.”
There and then she understood that God would answer our question the very same day.
At four I came back home for dinner. The whole family sat down around the table. At this time we were five: Birgit and I and our three children named Eirik (5), Trygve (3) and Sigrid (1).
Suddenly, as out of nowhere, Eirik asked:
– How do you start a new mission agency?
Quite startled I looked at him:
– Why do you ask, Eirik?
– I think you should start a new mission agency, the five year old boy continued.
My wife and I looked at each other in surprise. Then I turned to Eirik.
– I think God just spoke through you! I told him.
Hearing this, Eirik immediately turned to his 3 year old brother saying:
– Has God every spoken through you, Trygve?
Although God had given us exactly the sign we had asked for, we immediately started questioning it. We had expected an adult to tell us. Could we take this seriously when it came from a child? Could Eirik have heard about our plans? God mercifully brought us to the conclusion that he had confirmed our calling and that he wanted us to start the new tentmaking organisation in Norway.
In May we got back to our home country, and as soon as possible we called Berit Helgoy Kloster. For several years she had been the number one person speaking about tentmaking in Norway. At this time she was also the international director of Tentmaking International Exchange (TIE), an international network of tentmaking organizations that has later been renamed to Tentmakers International.
Birgit called her one evening in the beginning of May:
– Hello, this is Birgit Opheim. You may remember me as I several years ago participated at a tentmaking conference and stayed in your home. It might seem strange to you. But my husband and I feel that God is calling us to start a new tentmaking organisation in Norway.
Everything became silent for a long time in the other end of the line. Then Berit replied:
– I am silent because I am crying. Yesterday I told God that I could not manage this work on my own anymore. I asked him to send someone to help me.
Message from God
Half a year earlier, in November 1999, a friend had called Berit early one Saturday morning:
– I have got a message for you from the Lord. Can I come over?
The message was clear and simple and Berit wrote it down to remember. She was told that God would soon intervene in a special way.
– In which area will he intervene? Do you think this has to do with tentmaking or with the church? Berit asked. For several years, besides being a teacher at a high school in Stavanger and being heavily involved in tentmaking, Berit had also been one of the most outspoken leaders on the conservative side in the Norwegian Church.
– I don’t know, her friend replied.
For half a year nothing happened. Then, only two days before we contacted her, telling about our calling to tentmaking, her friend again gave her a ring.
– God has a new word for you, she said. He is saying that “my time is now”.
“Conceived” on February 29th Tent saw daylight approximately nine months later on November 11th 2000. It was founded as a limited company. In Norwegian the word “Tent” means “to be on fire”. All the way since the start Tent´s main objective has been to call businesspeople, professionals, workers, and students whom The Holy Spirit has already set on fire, to go to all nations to tell the good news about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Contact Tent at email@example.com if you would like to live and work in another nation. Check under Connect in the meny on the top of the page to find out how Tent can be of help to you and how you can contribute to Tent´s work.
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