Paris natives Elgin and Christina Combs knew they needed to listen to God’s calling shortly after he clearly gave a message to Elgin Combs.
“I was going to sleep and kept seeing three colors – blue, yellow and red,” said Elgin Combs, acknowledging he had no idea what the colors indicated.
He did an Internet search hoping to find an answer for the trio of primary colors that persistently flashed through his head.
“I thought to myself, ‘I do not know what that means,’” he said. “Then at 4 a.m. I woke up to my own voice saying Moldova.”
After Googling the word he thought he had made up in his sleep, Combs discovered Moldova is a small Eastern European country that gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He also saw the country’s blue, yellow and red flag.
“It sounds crazy, but that changed the chapter in our lives,” he said of the experience that occurred in May ,2017.
Familiar with missionary trips to Mexico, Elgin Combs recognized God was calling him and his family to Moldova to minister to the country’s citizens by planting churches and providing leadership to Chi Alpha Moldova.
Chi Alpha is a ministry of the Assemblies of God organization for college students of all different backgrounds and denominations.
Elgin Combs, a 1999 graduate of Paris High School, and his wife, Christina, had called Mattoon their hometown for more than seven years. They have three children Lilian, Isaiah and Judah. The family of five is leaving the United States Aug. 1 en route to Moldova. Preparing for the trip, they sold their home and belongings and now possess only 16 pieces of luggage and a guitar.
Upon arrival in the capital city Chisinau, they will rent a small apartment while searching for a family home and a vehicle for transportation.
Leaving Mattoon, where they thought they would raise their children, to start an international mission and minister was not an easy decision.
Soon after Elgin Combs received God’s message, the couple shifted their prayers.
“We prayed that our children would feel the same about the mission trip,” he said. “We wanted God to speak to our children before we chose to do this.”
The sign they needed came while oldest child Lilian was attending kids camp. She told her father, “Daddy, God called me to be a missionary.”
Only two days after that, middle child Isaiah announced he had a dream where the family sold their house and got on an airplane. The next confirmation occurred when youngest son, Judah, asked his mother when he could start traveling the world.
“God was speaking to our young children in special way that they could understand,” Elgin Combs said.
These signs were the catalyst leading the couple to discover more about missionary trips in Moldova.
In early fall of 2017, Elgin and Christina Combs visited Moldova to see first hand what the family’s mission trip would entail. According to Elgin Combs, the family will be ministering to young people
“This country is young, with over 50 percent of the population under the age of 35,” he said. “There are many universities and over 300,000 university students in the capital city. We believe that these students are the future of the church in Moldova.”
Moldova is about one-quarter the size of Illinois and is located between Ukraine and Romania. The country is plagued by extreme poverty that contributes to human trafficking.
According to Combs, the average daily income in Moldova is $5. He said it is a common practice for parents to seek employment outside of the country, while leaving their teenage children home alone for months to attend school with the promise to the youngsters they will periodically send money and eventually return with financial gain.
“The parents rarely ever return home,” said Elgin Combs.
He added this leaves the youths exposed to unethical and fake organizations within the country that prey on their naiveté by promising the teens bright futures in other countries.
Such criminal organizations pay for the youngsters to get visas, passports and other necessary paperwork to leave the country. However, the youth never make it to their destination and the females become sex slaves while the males are used for organ harvesting or slave labor.
“A big part of our ministry will be showing the young people that we care about their lives and educate them about the dangers of human trafficking,” Elgin Combs said. “Unfortunately, the government doesn’t do much to curb it. A few small organizations help rescue trafficking victims. We hope to educate the students to keep them from falling into the trafficking.”
The primary religion in Moldova is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
“We want to help change the country socially, economically and spiritually,” he said. “God is giving us this opportunity to change the situation along with building them up spiritually.”
The Combs family story is much more important than their mission trip. Elgin Combs emphasizes that God’s calling and how he speaks to worshippers is the main focus.
“I like to tell people that God doesn’t call you to go everywhere, but you need to be willing to go anywhere then God will lead you somewhere,” he said.
The family has a webpage to update followers about their ministry with monthly newsletters. Prayer and monetary pledges are also welcomed on their page thecombsfamily.com.
Since November 2017, the family has raised enough funds to launch the mission with money to get to Moldova and provide monthly support for living expenses over the next two years.
As Elgin Combs reflected over the events leading up to their fast approaching departure, he emphasized one last point.
“It doesn’t matter how old or young you are because God has a plan for your life and God can speak to you just as he has spoken to us,” he said.