2020 will be a memorable year for the Herring family. Of course we’ve had the pandemic and closing of on campus schooling and everything else that has come with this Covid 19 pandemic year. But 2020 is also the year that God has moved our family out of Mexico and back to Wilmington, NC.
When we first moved to Puerto Escondido in 2013 to run GEM and start the Manantial School we knew our commitment was a lot like a blank check to God. We didn’t know how long we were going to be living in Mexico…or what would really happen with the mission we were founding. We just went with a clear calling and no plans or timetable for returning. 7 years later God made it clear it was our time to return to the US and serve with GEM from Wilmington.
We have been back in Wilmington for 3 weeks. Our resettling has been easy and filled with blessing after blessing, largely because of our family and church. We moved into the same house we left behind in 2013 and have restarted our lives here. As Meg and I have been reflecting, we’ve notices that so much has changed…but many things are also the same. We have the same neighbors, same house, and of course our family and church are the same. Meg and I have joked several times as we sit at our kitchen table (same table as before the move) how it feels like we’ve just picked up the life we left behind in 2013.
But there are some significant and obvious changes too. Our family has grown from 2 children to 5, Manantial has grown from 0 students to over 220. And 1 school has grown into 4. There has also been change in our hearts. God has taught us and shown us so much during our time in Mexico. There’s too much to share in this blog post, but I can summarize it this way. God has repeatedly proven Himself faithful and convinced us, even in our moments of weak faith, that we can truly trust Him and praise Him no matter what is happening around us. We believed this before we left for Mexico…it’s the reason we obeyed and started GEM. But we know this truth at a deeper level now.
So many times between 2011 (when GEM was officially founded) and 2020 it looked like GEM was in serious trouble. We’ve faced financial shortfalls, recruiting/staffing shortfalls, immigration issues, local church challenges, governmental pressure, threats from other schools in Mexico, and on and on. On top of that, I have struggled through the normal challenges of learning how to start and run a gospel saturated school in another country. Countless times over the last 9 years I wanted to “throw in the towel” because of my professional shortcomings and failures.
But I am convinced God has allowed these struggles to be a part of my journey for my good. I have been forced, through the constant challenges, to pray more and call out to Him as my only hope. This is right where He’s always wanted me, and I love Him more because I can see how He truly never left me.
With all that said…don’t assume I have it all together! I certainly don’t! I have not arrived at some super spiritual place and all is right in life. I’m in process and all that God has done in my heart is going to be used to give me just enough courage to press on and continue to overcome in this next chapter of life and ministry.
So what’s ahead? It looks like God desires to use GEM to reach more people and grow in our ability to impact those we serve. We have 3 schools in Mexico, 1 in Uganda, and another opening in Colombia. We also have several other potential school projects around the corner. God is growing GEM and its exciting! Our move back to Wilmington is part of a big transition and step for our ministry. We believe opening an office in Wilmington will allow us to develop better partnerships, recruit and train more missionaries, and better serve all of our schools. We have repeatedly talked about this being the start of a new chapter for GEM.
We’re excited and can’t wait to see what God will do. We know it will be challenging and at times really hard, but that’s okay. God has always done his best work in my heart in those times.
Please pray for GEM as we start this new chapter. Pray for our leaders as we open our office and work to develop new roles. Pray that our ministry would grow in impact and that those who are served in our schools would truly know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.