For the Winans family, our life story has always been one of “changes”. Both Josh and Ann were born in the Midwest and met while attending Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, but felt a strong desire to move to the New England region upon graduation. “Transplants” were what we often referred to ourselves, wondering if we’d ever feel like city life with close proximity to the ocean and mountains would ever become “home”. Three years later and after their our first daughter was born, we made an unexpected move back to the Midwest where we remained for five years. During this time, our second daughter was born. Yet during all this time, we wrestled greatly with how we wanted to best live out our lives… and where.
Enter Poland. Back in their college years, Ann had started praying for the youth of Poland because of a friend who had moved there. Then, Ann had the fortunate opportunity to go to Poland for a month and work with her friend at their summer camps as a part of her internship. Little did we realize that God had started to weave our love for this country into the tapestry of our lives. After back to back years of Ann leading teams of youth and adults over to Poland (again for summer language camps), our entire family was able to go to Poland for six weeks. There we helped at summer camps and enjoyed being a part of PROeM’s ministry for the duration of the summer. We got a taste of serving together as a family and although exhausting, it only affirmed our love for serving with the ministry.
That was in 2008. When we flew back to our home in central Illinois, we were in for a big change. God had called us back to New England and two months later we were back living in Manchester, New Hampshire. Josh and Ann returned to teaching full-time and the girls quickly adjusted to a new home and new friends and reconnecting with our friends when we lived there before. After time, we started getting re-involved with our church, Manchester Christian Church. With two young daughters, our roles serving the Church would look different than before. We naturally began serving with the Children’s Ministry and have thoroughly enjoyed greeting and meeting families each Sunday since then. The life of the church was full of energy and excitement.
We were content and fulfilled in our life and ministry, yet there was always this nagging desire to keep Poland a part of our life, but now we had been using our summer weeks to spend it back in the Midwest with our families so it made going to Poland in the summer a dilemma. We had no idea the plans God had for us! A simple request from PROeM to “prayerfully consider” coming to Poland for a year to teach in their school changed our lives. After “prayerfully” considering their request, both Josh and Ann were able to secure a year’s leave of absence from our schools and we packed up ten bags and moved over to Poland for the year. Our experience was amazing. Challenging, yes, but amazing because we got to be a part of another side of PROeM’s work through education. It confirmed that not only do Josh and Ann have the skill set and talents that align perfectly with PROeM’s vision, but the girls also fit perfectly with how God has designed them.
We left Poland in June 2013 knowing that one day we’d return. “When” that would be was completely unknown.
Three years may seem like a long time, but for the us, it’s been three years of “wrestling” before God with this question. We had much to consider and knew our decision would have lasting implications. So, you may be asking, what was our deciding factor? Well, to keep it as simple as possible, it was: “Pray for One”. Our church, Manchester Christian Church, desires to see “the greatest amount of people in Heaven in the shortest amount of time.” So when our church initially started using this phrase and terminology, it seemed pretty cheesy. Who needed a banner, motto, or slogan to do what Christ calls us to do? How silly! Well, joke was on us because it eventually caused us to realize that our heart beats so strong for the people in Poland and not just for Josh and Ann, but for our daughters as well. We couldn’t shake the people’s faces, the relationships that had started, and the outpouring of God’s blessing on the school in which our lives were a part of. We knew that the time had come to “lay down our life in America” for what Christ had done for us on the cross. The time had come. He had been preparing our family for over a decade for this moment.
Yes, changes are not new to the Winans family. We are once again “transplants” and this time to a foreign country, but time has shown that we are able to adapt and we welcome you to join us on the journey!