Josh and Susan Heidelman lived in a quaint town close to an exciting city—Chicago. Throughout eleven years of marriage, they went from zero kids to five, and Josh had the opportunity to practice law at two of the largest firms in the world. They also put down deep roots in a local church. “It feels like we’ve had it all,” wrote Josh, age 34, and Susan to their family and friends. “It has been a great time of growth.”
But, over the last few years, the Heidelmans felt an increasing desire to make a big change. “We firmly believe that God is calling many people to be attorneys at large law firms, and for those people, legal work is ministry work,” wrote Josh and Susan, “every bit as important and valuable as work which perhaps more directly advances the gospel. But for us, we have come to believe that the full-time practice of law is no longer our calling.” Already, Josh and Susan had explored missions and ministry opportunities in places as near as Chicago and as far away as Uganda. In July 2013, they made their big change official, and announced their decision to join Wycliffe and work at its headquarters in Orlando, Florida.
In a letter to family and friends, Josh described his future role in the worldwide Bible translation team. He wrote, “I will be serving directly with Wycliffe’s senior leadership using many of the same analytical, organizational, and communication skills I currently use as an attorney.” By accepting the dual title of Executive Advisor for Initiatives and Special Projects, and Special Counsel, Josh was able to connect his expertise to the mission to reach people with the Word of God in their own language. To fully make the transition, all that remained was to build a partnership team.
Though it only took them about three months to complete the partnership development process, it did raise some challenges. Explaining to family and friends how any sane person would walk away from a good salary at a law firm was no easy task. To some it seemed that simply, Wycliffe was not going to pay them. But after Josh and Susan presented the partnership model, shared the vision, and gave invitations to partner alongside them in their Wycliffe ministry, people responded. “We were surprised at people’s incredible generosity,” said Josh, “as well as how partnership comes from some very unexpected places.”
And God was faithful. At a particularly “low” point in the process, when the Heidelman’s house had yet to sell and they still had a long way to go towards reaching 100 percent of their partnership development goal for their Wycliffe ministry, they learned that an old acquaintance—someone they had almost entirely lost contact with—had partnered with them through a large monthly financial commitment. “This partner could never have known the timing,” said Josh, “but God did, and provided it just in time.”
Reassured by God and His “signposts” along the way, Josh and Susan are now in Orlando where they are living out an example of faith, evident to family members and friends back home, and especially to their five kids, all under the age of nine. They are one of many families in the Bible translation team whose ministry is made possible through day-to-day partnerships ordained by God.
This article was produced as a companion piece to the May 2014 edition of the Intercessor newsletter. Click here to read more and see prayer requests related to Wycliffe missionaries and partnership development.