As Dave Halperin waited to get off the plane in North Africa, his daughter, Caitlin, gave him a fist bump.
“She said, ‘Good job, Dad, you got us all here,’” Dave said. And that was true — his whole Brook Hills team, including his wife, Christine, and daughter, had made it to the other side of the ocean.
But a few minutes later, he would wish Caitlin could’ve legitimately tacked the word “safely” on the end of that sentence. Because of where their seats had been, Christine had gotten off the plane before him, and when he got to the door, he saw his wife lying on the jetway.
For a second, everything was in slow motion for him. It felt that way for Christine, too. She had missed a step and twisted her ankle, and she lay there in a lot of pain as airport personnel buzzed around her.
“They were kind and tried to take care of me,” she said. “And nothing was broken, so that was a good thing.”
But her fall kicked off a short-term trip with a very fractured plan. The next day they found out they weren’t going to be able to do the medical clinics they had come to do — there was a security issue for the pastor who had planned to host them.
It was quite the twist after Dave had prayed and worked hard for months to pull together a small team of medical professionals who could go. That included his wife, a former nurse, who had only decided to go at the last minute and now had a twisted ankle.
“Our team, we worked really hard and talked about being flexible,” he said. “But change was coming our way pretty fast and furious the first couple of days.”
On what should’ve been the first day of the clinic, they did a bit of sightseeing while their partners worked to come up with a new plan for the week. Later they found out that plan was to go door to door in pairs — something Christine couldn’t do in a boot and on crutches.
“When it feels like things are going out of control, it builds my trust in God to know He’s in control, He’s sovereign, He’s faithful and He’s at work even when I can’t see it,” Dave said.
But as their team settled into God’s plan for their week of investing on the ground in North Africa, they did see glimpses of His work along the way.
For starters, Dave had looked for months for a pharmacist who could go with them and never found one. He boarded the plane trusting that God would help them work out those needs as they went.
“Now I understand why we never had a pharmacist on the team. When we did this approach, there was no need for one,” Dave said. “That was one place where God’s hand was really easy to see.”
During the sightseeing day, they were able to make good, encouraging connections with their translators. “It was a great bonding time,” Dave said.
And during the week, they were able to go with those translators and make a lot of visits they wouldn’t have made otherwise. As the rest of the team did that, Christine and Caitlin were able to stay behind and help their mission partners with some other tasks they needed done.
Christine said it was encouraging to see the team’s unity and willingness to do whatever they were asked even when things didn’t turn out the way they had planned. For her especially, it was also an exercise in accepting the service of others. “It was humbling for me, because I love to be the one who serves,” she said. “Our team gathered around me and took care of me that week.”
Dave said not everything about the week got tied up in a neat bow. He believes there was spiritual warfare happening, but he also knows one thing for sure — God is sovereign, and He knows exactly how He wanted the team to be a part of taking the gospel to those who haven’t heard yet.
“Things don’t always go the way we plan, but the risk is worth it, even with our physical lives,” Dave said. “We always want to be wise, but sometimes things don’t make sense. Knowing He’s sovereign and in control and that we can trust Him — that’s what matters.”
Through the Global Offering, families are able to go and serve on Short-Term mission together. Give to and learn more about the Global Offering at brookhills.org/globaloffering.