By Melissa Paredes
“If [God] has called you to serve him overseas, he will show you and go before you,” said Sarah. “But above all, wait on him, and hold onto your plans with open hands.”
That’s just what Sarah and her husband, Trevor, have done over the years as they’ve followed God on a journey of service with Wycliffe.
Trevor currently serves as an arts specialist in a small minority language group in Brazil, helping Christians engage with Scripture by incorporating verses and stories into local art forms — music, visual art, dance and even drama. He also helps language communities across the country use their own indigenous art forms to impact people’s lives with God’s Word.
But it’s not just Trevor who is involved. “One of our favorite aspects of [raising our kids in another country and culture] is that we get to go on this adventure together,” shared Sarah. “We all experience the joys and hardships of it together and learn to trust in God and lean on each other more.”
Some of the hardships their family experience come from living in a country with different values and beliefs. This can be difficult, especially when working with people who don’t have an understanding of God or his power. Sarah shared about how a friend once asked them to drive her sick mother to visit the local shaman for treatment. The friend was pregnant and not doing well, but Trevor and Sarah were conflicted: they wanted to help, but they didn’t want to go against their convictions to do so.
“We prayed about it … and felt that God was strongly telling us that we should not facilitate the devil’s work,” Sarah shared. They knew that denying their friend could mean causing a rift in their friendship and a breaking of trust, but decided it was more important to obey God. Although they said no to that first request, a few days later they were able to help their friend by taking her to the hospital — God allowed them the chance to continue to build the friendship without compromising their beliefs.
Experiences like this have helped Trevor, Sarah and their kids learn to rely on God better. “Oftentimes it is in the struggle — and in those moments where we just don’t know what to do or where to turn — that we realize more fully that God is the source of our strength,” shared Sarah. “We may be far from what feels comfortable to us, but seeing his faithfulness to us in our weakest moments causes our own faith to be built up. This, in turn, causes us to all the more passionately want to tell others of how good it is to be one of his followers. He takes care of us.”
And they’ve experienced that faithful provision in many areas of their life. For example, when a colleague was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Trevor and Sarah thought her failing health would halt the translation project. But God has since raised up people from the language community to carry on the work.
Sometimes the enemy’s attacks are frighteningly tangible. “Because [these people] live in a very animistic culture, encountering the spiritual realm on a daily basis is very much a reality for them,” Sarah shared. “The wife of a mother tongue translator was being tormented by spirits to the point that one afternoon she fainted and collapsed. I was able to help get her to the hospital after the event occurred and heard more of her story of what all had transpired during this particular attack. Before she fainted there had been dark spirits who had been trying to pull her away from her husband (who is a strong believer), grabbing at her neck and trying to choke her. She said that that had happened on more than one occasion, where they were trying to pull her away from her husband, likely because he knows the truth.”
Trevor and Sarah see situations like this one as a visible sign of the spiritual battle going on for the souls of these people. “We have wanted to quit many times,” Trevor said, “because it feels like everything around us is either falling apart or becoming spiritually and physically dangerous.”
“But then we step away from the situation,” Trevor adds, “and see that the enemy is working so hard to capture and enslave these people because God seems to be on the brink of doing something absolutely amazing. We want to be there to see what he has in store, whether we’re directly involved or not!”
So that’s why Trevor and Sarah both keep working to reach people with God’s Word in the language that speaks directly to their hearts. “It is our relationships with these people and with God that fuel the energy to push forward in our current work,” Sarah explains. “Even though there are challenges and fears that try to discourage us from continuing, God continues to confirm in our hearts and minds that he has us right where he wants us for the time being. It is his work, and we are thankful to be a part of it for as long as he [will] allow us to remain [here].”