Rachel Allord was happy with her life in Wisconsin and didn’t want to move to the UK, until God changed her heart.


Source: supplied Rachel Allord and her family in London in 2019

Moving to London in my mid-forties was not in my plan. Yet unexpectedly, it was a part of God’s. My husband and I had lived and served in the same small, Midwestern American town and thriving church for over twenty years. Roots ran deep. Friends were comfortable, family close, and our future stable. Or so we thought.

The journey across the pond started with one little conversation. ‘London needs church workers’, a Londoner mentioned to my husband whilst working together on a service project in Paris.

The words prompted my husband to send an email which sparked a FaceTime call which resulted in us applying for a city mission team in London

The words prompted my husband to send an email, which sparked a FaceTime call, which resulted in us applying for a city mission team in London; which, I assumed, would never actually happen. We wouldn’t really uproot our life, including our teenagers, and move overseas - would we? But as we prayed and sought counsel, one step leading to another, our family of four eventually flew to London to determine if God was indeed calling us to move there indefinitely.

Three days in London and I decided no, he wasn’t. He couldn’t be. I couldn’t picture life in this daunting city, and I wouldn’t break our kids’ hearts. Fear followed me like fog, and I couldn’t see through it. My husband, however, was ready to look at flats.

One night, after a long day of boarding the wrong buses and bickering, we realised we’d left a backpack at a pub hours earlier. While my husband and son took off in hopes of retrieving our sack of valuables and my daughter finished homework in bed, I closed myself in the hotel bathroom to have it out with God.

‘I’m not moving here,’ I whispered.

‘I’m not moving here,’ I whispered. Defiant or not, I still had requests. ‘The kids are struggling. Please let the guys have a good talk. And let them find the backpack. And…’. I hesitated. Honest prayer about real struggles was dangerous, an open door for God to work. ‘And if you want us in London, you’re going to have to change my heart because I can’t move here.’

I crept into bed. Minutes later the guys slipped in, backpack in hand. ‘Everything is intact!’ my husband whispered. ‘And Elijah and I had the best conversation.’ I smiled, trying to ignore my thumping heart. Two out of three.

In the days that followed, fear persisted but God gently and gradually opened my heart to the unknown. As we met with potential teammates and church leaders and absorbed the beauty of the city, hope surfaced. Living here still felt impossible and the changes and looming losses terrified, but I sensed God’s nudging to walk by faith.

Two years later, the house and our belongings sold or rehomed, including the dog, we bid farewell to friends, family, and our son who had begun his first year at university in the States. His decision to stay put was the right one, but it shattered all of us nonetheless. Boarding the plane without him felt like leaving my heart behind.

As for me, my husband, and our thirteen-year-old, London felt overwhelmingly foreign - public transport, school, the pace of life, and social norms. It was all new. We missed shared history with friends and the comfort of familiarity. In many ways we broke. But God is in the breaking and the mending. He tears down to build us up to be more like Jesus, all the while providing. For us that was a supportive church, rich experiences and new loving friends who introduced us to Yorkshire pudding and Christmas Crackers.

Six years in, we love living here. Slowly, and never replacing our beloved Wisconsin, London has become home. 

Yet our concept of home has shifted; it’s not so much where you live but who you belong to. Home is our good Father, who determines our steps and directs our stories, who gave everything so he could one day bring us home for good. In the meantime, when plans crumble and the path grows perilous, we shelter in him and find that’s where we belonged all along.