Emma Reilly – Poland
I think we have always had a strong sense of being a family together on a mission. Each of our girls was born in a different place, as we moved from Kent to London to join gospel plants. In August 2008, we came to Gdańsk in Poland, with a simple call to live our lives for Jesus in this place, and with our four precious daughters in tow (4, 6, 8 and 10 years). Our biggest mission has always been to our girls, to raise them to have Jesus at the centre of their lives, while sharing the Gospel with those around us. But the challenges of doing this in a foreign land were big. We came with no language, we knew no one and were immediately faced with an unfamiliar education system, that was as equally unfamiliar with non-Polish speaking kids! And so we all went in at the deep end!
It was amazing to watch our girls adapt to a new culture and language. Within months they were speaking in Polish, and helping us to make phone calls and do ordinary tasks – a very humbling experience to depend on your kids for everyday things. But at the same time, it was tough watching them struggle to make friends and be excluded for being different, and not having the skills to fix things for them. More than ever before, we knew home had to be a place of total honesty and acceptance, where problems could be talked about, and brought to Jesus. The most ordinary situations, like speaking, going to school and inviting a friend home to play, became opportunities to talk about fears and to pray together. And so we all learned so much more about needing Jesus.
One of the beautiful things about being a small gospel plant has been the girls learning that they have a key part to play. This has never been an adults’ only mission! From a young age, they prayed out, heard God, and shared what they heard Him say. God has been so faithful in looking after each of them and growing their faith. Over the years, I often worried that they would have lesser lives, and fewer opportunities, as a result of living here. And yet, as I’ve watched God provide for them again and again, and seen Him do deep things in their lives, I know that they are His daughters first, and they are just on loan to us.
Our eldest daughter Chloe (23) moved to the UK at 18 to study, and two years later married Davis, our wonderful Latvian son-in-law. Izzi (21) is now studying nursing in Edinburgh. And as I write this, Phoebe (18) and Lula (17) are also preparing to move to the UK for studies. By God’s grace these girls are some of my closest friends, and biggest encouragers, and we now face the huge challenge of living in different countries. But our God is no man’s debtor, and once again we are looking to Him for grace to do the next season well.