Ashley Leightenheimer is a wife to Jesse, mother to Asher and Rowan. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, she and her family will be moving to Lyon, France to plant a church starting in 2014.
When my husband and I started dating he expressed his desire to one day move overseas and be a missionary. At the time it sounded so sweet and “godly.” I thought he was so handsome, it didn’t matter what he wanted to do. Over the next 13 months more serious conversations took place about marriage and missions. It still sounded nice, but so far away in the future. Fast-forward six years, a couple of gray hairs, a couple extra pounds and two babies later. Don’t get me wrong my husband is still handsome, but the thought of moving overseas no longer sounds sweet, romantic or easy. It sounds down right terrifying. Thinking about moving our family to another country, away from family and friends, to a place where we can’t communicate easily or face to face is so stressful and overwhelming.
There have only been two other times I have knowingly embraced suffering and pain, and that was with the delivery of our two boys. But thankfully we got two sweet little ones after all that hard work of pushing and striving. In hard moments, as ridiculous as it may seem, this is so comforting to me. I’m comforted because I know that in the midst of preparing for a heart-wrenching goodbye, a difficult transition to a foreign country and facing a fear of leaving my home for the first time in my life, Jesus is for me. . .and he is faithful. As I feel overwhelmed and nervous, I now have peace. I am confident that the Lord is calling us to France, but I’m more confident in who God is and what he promises to do for us. So, in my “freak-out” moments, he is faithful to remind me of his goodness, his consistency of character and this amazing opportunity he is giving my family.
Lord willing, we are planning to move to Lyon, France by the end of the year. Our desires are to do business as missions, be a part of their culture and to love them well. Although I am sure we will be doing much of the receiving in that time, we are praying for gospel impact and fellowship with the Lyon community. During our time in Louisville, we have worked in both restaurants and in retail. One thing this taught us is how much we love having friendships in working environments and places where there are not a lot of believers. In short, we have loved being missionaries in Louisville, Kentucky.
Obviously, you don't have move to another country to become missionary. Think about the places you go on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis—grocery store, gym, park, bank, library, school, etc. I am sure you see the same employees and people regularly. Do you take the time to be kind and genuine in friendship with them or do you rush passed? Do you sell God short by thinking that person “would never” listen to you share the gospel? Do you shy away from work relationships because it would be “too hard” since they don’t have the same morals as you?
Jesus said that “when [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. . . I (Jesus) have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16). We should live in missional relationships with full abandonment knowing that the Holy Spirit convicts the world, that Jesus is fully available in our tribulations and that we can move out in whatever place he is calling us, with full peace, knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world.
We are grateful to have Ashley share with us this week, mainly because the Leightenheimers are people we call "the real deal". They are faithful friends and would say that is synonymous with being a faithful missionary. We would love to invite to follow their journey, pray for them and even support them financially as they prepare to move their lives indefinitely to France.
Find out more about how to give financially here: http://bit.ly/sojournlyon-leightenheimer
Find out more about Lyon and the church planting team here: http://www.sojournlyon.com/