“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
Dan and Corrie are no strangers to suffering.
Dan was born in Ethiopia to SIM missionary parents and grew up in Liberia. He and his wife, Corrie, met in Wheaton, Illinois, where she grew up. For the last twenty-one years, they have served together as missionaries – first in Malawi, then in Costa Rica, and now with Sports Friends in Charlotte, North Carolina. Undoubtedly, their hardest trial while pursuing the missionary path came right after they moved to Costa Rica.
After living there for a little over eight weeks, Dan was stabbed while he and his family were at a park. He almost died. Both Dan and Corrie struggled with this trauma in different ways. Dan struggled with healing and knowing how to move on emotionally and spiritually for himself and for his family.
Corrie was in shock and could not really process her feelings thoroughly because she had so many logistical pieces to keep together: making sure Dan was OK in the hospital, taking care of the boys at home, and coping with all the fear in their home.
Though they both struggled with their own direct trauma, the hardest part of the incident was walking through the trauma with their four boys after they had seen their dad in a pool of blood and thought he was going to die.
Yet, it was clear that God had not forsaken them. Dan and Corrie later found out that after the time of the stabbing, Corrie’s aunt and her aunt’s friend back in Illinois were praying for him. The aunt’s friend had had a vision about him. The vision was of Dan being stabbed, but behind him was an angel protecting him. What a wonderful encouragement to know that God was protecting him in his darkest hour; in fact, no less than God’s angels were protecting him!
Dan, Corrie, and their boys were unsure on how to move forward as a family, but they knew the only way was to take little steps at a time trusting God. One particular verse that came to them while they prayed and trudged through this unimaginable trial was Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Dan and Corrie reflected on how “trauma stills you, and you can’t function.” It was so easy for them to get so caught up in just “doing” all the time, and the question of “what is my purpose?”. But in reality, as followers of Christ we need to focus on knowing God. Dan and Corrie realized that, more than anything, they needed to be still and know who God is.
Now looking back, Dan and Corrie are both amazed at how many ways God has cared for them through times of trial, even down to the tiniest detail. God has provided for them countless times in little ways they did not expect, which has strengthened their faith, and brought joy at the prospect of how God has constantly been at work in their family.
One extraordinary example of this came while living in Malawi, when God saved Dan and Corrie’s first born. Corrie was bedridden after 21 weeks of pregnancy and was medically evacuated to South Africa after 25 weeks, for the doctors thought their son would be born early. Unbeknown to the doctors, he was sick in the womb. Had they been in Malawi, he may not have survived.
Another time, Dan’s tooth was knocked crooked while playing an aggressive game of basketball, but God provided a dentist to fix the tooth, who just happened to be visiting their town in Malawi that week.
Dan and Corrie believe that a big part of being a missionary is how you walk through the trials that face you each day. As they reflect on Jesus and how He suffered, not only on the cross, but also during His ministry on Earth, they can see that suffering is necessary and a normal part of the Christian life. This mindset to thank God for every blessing, instead of expecting only a life of blessings, makes them more grateful and aware of God’s gifts being poured out.
Remembering back to when they lived in Malawi, Dan and Corrie recall how much joy the people in Malawi had even though they had very little by the world’s standard and faced countless trials just to survive. They depended on God entirely to provide for them each day, which in return developed their faith in God.
Through their own set of trials, Dan and Corrie have reaped a joy that they could never have produced on their own. They have seen how easy it is in the comfort of the Western world to forget about God and push Him to one side. Yet, it is only when our self-sufficiency is peeled away that we see how weak we really are.
As C.S. Lewis so beautifully put it, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience,but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Dan and Corrie’s lives speak of a hope that extends well beyond what they can see or touch. They say, “We do not plan to use our experiences, but God does.” They have developed a deeper faith than they could ever imagine — not in spite of their suffering, but because of their suffering.
Dan now serves as the Sports Friends International Support Services Team Leader while being based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his family. Though they had nothing when they first moved back, God provided for every household item through friends and neighbors. God gave them everything after they had nothing and once again showed that He is faithful.
Join us in praying for Dan, Corrie, and the boys, as they continue to serve God in ministry. Pray that their lives would continue to sing of the fact that God is glorious even when our circumstances are not. And may we all be able to say with the psalmist, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
Written by Callie West, Sports Friends Communications Intern.