Our Story - Written 9/30/2019
We both grew up in Christian households and started dating our senior year of high school. Through our first 2 years of college, God met us in ways we were not necessarily looking for but our faith in our heavenly Dad really became our own. We were both able to travel overseas for mission trips during this time as well. Our marriage struggled significantly for the first 5 years, mainly due to the fact that neither of us were living surrendered lives. God started the process of healing and restoration of our relationship in Alaska in the beginning of 2010 when Deb was finishing a 4 month physical therapy clinical. This is one of the main reason’s our hearts are drawn to marriage ministry. We love working with the brokenhearted and hopeless because we know and have experience the transformational power and love Christ has for marriage. We loved it in Alaska in the winter, as we both also grew up thriving in the snow and cold in Montana.
In March of 2016, Kent had a focus shifting experience with God and the love our heavenly Dad truly has for him. From that point forward, he has been falling into closer and deeper relationship and pursuit of Jesus’s heart!
In April of 2016, we were blessed by a conference where we were specifically seeking God for truth and wisdom. We were given a word about peacemaking, bridge building, marriage ministry and our children. One of the first visions God gave Kent was the next morning when he was asking God what that would look like. He showed him a picture of a sun with rays extended from a clock face center. Both hands where on the 12 and he felt God saying that God’s ministry in our lives would start in Choteau and Montana but would eventual move and/or grow beyond that.
In March of 2017, Kent had been feeling a call to pastoring and an opportunity arose in our local congregation where we were already deeply invested and loving all our church family and local community. We also felt a connection and call to unite the body and build bridges between generations and create a kingdom mentality.
In October 2017, we went through a very painful but purifying time where God blessed us with accelerated maturity and planted our hearts even deeper into his faithfulness, steadfastness, and amazing goodness. He taught us about true forgiveness, the gift of grace, and the absolute necessity of constant connection and relationship with him as our life sustaining all-in-all!
Through that winter, the Lord had sustained us by giving Kent the strength to cut and chop 25 cords of firewood and we lovingly called him Kent Bunyan. In May of 2018 we were driving and asking God what he wanted us to do with the transitions he was leading us through, where he wanted us, and what he wanted us doing with our lives and family. The kids were watching the cartoon of Paul Bunyan and Babe in the back of the car and during a lull in our prayers and conversation we heard the cartoon say, “But don’t you folks feel sorry for Paul and Babe, I hear they’re up Alaska way … and mighty happy”. Then the presence of the Lord fell so heavily in the car. We looked at each other in shock and knowing that this was the Lord speaking directly to us, we cried and laughed and praised him. Holy Spirit brought to Kent’s remembrance in that moment the vision of the sun clock with both hands on the 12 and he then understood what it meant. We were being called to the land of the midnight sun.
That May, we also began pursuing our licensing and mentorship/training with the conclusion and final exam on November 30th 2018 … the same day as the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. One of our amazing sisters in Christ had sent us a dream she had the Sunday prior. It was our family closely standing together in a white background. There were rings radiating out from us in the cadence of God’s heartbeat. When we saw this picture of the earthquake epicenter we knew it meant something significant. Now we see the epicenter of God’s heart for us in Alaska.
God has been so faithful to continue to give us reminders of his plan and purpose for us and our family. Small visions for Deb include holding a giant rainbow trout in her hands with the Lord saying she would be doing something she never had before but that he had created her for this. She has also had on her heart two other big requests of God. One was to find a position for a PT job in the school district to love on the children there as well as be more available to our kids during the seasons they are out of school. The other was to have people who would love on our kids like their own grandkids since we would be diminishing the close physical contact the kids have with their grandparents here in Montana.
We have been seeking the Lord on his timing, heart and future location for us in Alaska since May of 2018. We placed a map of Alaska on our living room wall and have been praying over it and asking where God would have us. Deb even let the Holy Spirit know he could encourage one of our kids to take a highlighter to the map and circle where he wants us, if that is how he’d like to reveal his plan. Come to find out, Houston is not even on our map so there was no way that scenario could have played out but it actually speaks so much deeper to our hearts. The pastor who spoke at our Credentialing ceremony was Bryan Jarrett who has started a “Water Tower Project” to resource and encourage the small town churches all across the US and emphasizes the importance of the forgotten people in forgotten places. The lord has been telling us that he wants us to reach out to the forgotten people, the ones that are not known. Those who are not on the map but God sees so clearly. We have been praying for the people of Alaska and God has been breaking our hearts for the people up there even though we really don’t know anyone. In our season of waiting to hear from the Lord, he has been so faithful to provide clear signs pointing us to somewhere in the Mat-Su valley. We had sold our camper to pay for our Bible School books and found out the camper was originally purchased in Palmer, AK. We also heard a story of an AG pastor who reached out to the gangs of New York and through that calling he started the first Teen Challenge. Kent’s heart has been to work with those struggling in addiction and we did some research and found out there is one right in Wasilla. While studying our school books one day on a picnic table in Great Falls, MT, we asked God for some confirmation that he was really calling us to Alaska and would love another clear sign. Just then a vehicle was approaching and had a rock in its tire making a clicking noise so we both looked up. It was a huge semi pulling a giant enclosed trailer with ALASKA in ten foot letters and covered in pictures of Alaska wildlife and scenery. We have known for quite some time that God was not only calling us to a small town but also that he was telling Kent not to sell his tools because he would most likely be pastoring a small church and continue to work construction part time. Our desire has also been to be near the Little Beaver Camp for the purpose of wilderness retreats. His love is so powerful! He had been watching the open church list and were hopeful to head up the summer of 2020, but still had not felt any clear direction from the Lord for a move but did feel him say that he would bless us in obedience to continue preparing in Montana for what he had through the next year. God has been showing Kent the number 9 1 1. He has been asking the Lord what he wants to show him and has been given some powerful scripture. We do see another strong connection in God’s timing of his revealed plan. It was 9 months 11 days since the earthquake and licensing exam to the day that God gave us clarity of direction and his call to Houston.
Then we were offered a position in Montana to pastor an open church September 7th. It was a very beautiful opportunity but we both knew that God has been telling us Alaska. When we settled in our hearts to continue in obedience to what he has said, the next day he started to reveal, in quick succession, clear signs into his plan for us after waiting for 16 months. We were again driving home and talking with the Lord (God meets us a lot in the car by his grace when we are all together as a family) when Kent said to check the Alaska open church list. The Hilltop position had only been posted on August 26th. Kent pursued phone calls the next day and Deb checked the listings again for any school PT positions in the Mat-Su area. There was a position open and it had been posted the same day as the church’s opening! Deb has always asked God for signs and at this point he was telling her to believe the signs that he was showing us! When Deb called about the position it was no longer available but she had made great contact with the school district and is hopeful that with repeat contact with the district in the spring there will be a position available for the 2020-2021 school year. It was beyond what we could ask for and he had had this in his mind all along. He knows our hearts desires and often will plant those desires within us. We have both grown up in rural Montana (towns of 2,000 or less) and we function so effectively in an intimate setting, living life with those around us. We also have a passion to see God’s kingdom grow and flourish and we are sold out to work without reservation for the fulfillment of his will.
I heard a testimony a few weeks ago I just had to share for others to be encouraged to always listen to God's voice NO MATTER HOW CRAZY IT MAY SOUND!
The story is true, and has been passed down to us through Dr. Carol Alexander from Trinity Bible College when she came to speak to us at the Alaska Ministry Network Conference.
There was a girl that one day heard God say to her to go into a laundry mat near by and do a hand stand in front of the vending machine. She was very confused by God's voice, and even questioned if it really was God she had heard. But as the day progressed she continued to feel God prompting her over and over again as God spoke to her the same thing over and over again. She explained that it became so burdening that she finally gave in to God's voice and said, "Okay God, I will do it, but I'm not doing it until right before the laundry mat closes and then I'm out of there".
As the time approached, she got up the courage to go into the laundry mat and do the handstand in front of the vending machine like God had directed her to do. As she finished and quickly headed for the door, the manager asked her to stop and come back to his office. She agreed, and as they came into his office she saw a gun laying on his desk. He broke down in tears and explained to her that he had told God that morning that unless a girl came in and did the craziest thing he could think of (a hand stand) in front of the vending machine by the end of that day, he was going to take his own life.
The girl was so filled with the Holy Spirit in that moment that she began to pray for the manager and led him into a relationship with Jesus as he asked Jesus into his life!
This man had been saved because this girl trusted the directive she got from God that day and was obedient to do whatever God asked of her! It is an encouragement to us to remember God knows all, and we can trust Him, when He asks us to do something. Even when it doesn't make any sense at all!
About this blog.
In this blog, Jen shares testimonies from others who have been passionately PURSUED by God and His relentless love, Jen would like to invite YOU to share your testimony and be featured on the MGK Blog.