Do The Impossible

Sarena Wahl Profile
Article by Sarena Wahl
Assistant Houseparent

If we're supposed to pick up our cross and follow him, why would we just live a life of comfort, the way we want to live it?

"One day we'll work there," Paul and Nichole Suvar often commented as they passed Gateway Woods on their way to church. The recession of 2008 hit hard, and the Suvars quickly realized God might be replacing "one day" with "today". A Houseparent position opened, corresponding with the call Paul and Nichole were feeling. In less than a month, Paul and Nichole were Houseparents!

Paul and Nichole (along with Owen, Hannah and Madeline) served as Houseparents for five and a half years. After moving on, their passion for the mission and the gospel is still evident! I recently had the privilege to talk with them about their experience.

"God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible - what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves." A. W. Tozer

What challenged you?

The attempt to balance life with our children and life with the residents: Our mantra was that we were "living life", but we always had the question in our head, "Are we doing enough for out kids? Are we doing enough for the residents?" Also, the constant disregard for the Gospel; we could put up with attitude, disrespect, and kids continuing to mess up, but seeing the Gospel continually rejected - that was the hardest part.

What impacted you?

We learned so much about ourselves! I truly believe we have a stronger marriage and better parenting techniques because of being Houseparents. And, the times when you could see the Gospel reaching a soft heart, that made it worth it. Although it may contradict what was said above, I loved that we were able to live life as a family and our home/life was the mission field. It was so purposeful. We could do it right alongside our kids. We talked about life, we talked about Jesus "living life". We grew spiritually, emotionally, and learned more about relationships and what makes them work well.

What did you learn?

The importance of purposeful, intentional relationships with our children and each other. That success looks different for everyone. That it's not God and I on one team and the residents on the other, but I am truly on the same team as these kids. We are all fallen and all need Jesus. I guess I knew that deep down, but didn't always think or project that.

What would you say to a couple considering Houseparenting?

This work will change your life—for the better. It is hard, but what thing that is truly worthwhile doesn't come with sacrifice and work? If we are truly children of the King, then we need to be active in His Kingdom, loving the hard-to-love and showing them Jesus. It might look hard; it might look impossible — but that's the road Jesus walked. If we're supposed to pick up our cross and follow him, why would we just live a life of comfort, the way we want to live it?


Sarena is currently an Assistant Houseparent at Gateway Woods.