It only takes a spark
To get a fire going,
And soon all those around
Will warm up to its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it;
You spread his love to everyone;
You want to pass it on.
“Pass it On” Kurt Kaiser
In 2018, we all have the opportunity to light sparks and see the flame of the gospel go forth. What will your spark look like? Will it look like our friends’ spark from Australia?
Many people say they would like to come visit us in the jungle—and we know they are sincere, but it is a hard trip. We have had few people actually make it all the way to where we work. Brad and Cass Edwardes are two of those people.
Brad contacted us via email a few years back, but it wasn’t until this past year when they came to visit. We were able to sit down over some coffee and tea and hear their whole story. The Edwardes are active members of their church, already using their gifts of shepherding as an elder and elder’s wife. In just the few days with them, we saw their heart to listen and encourage those around them. They are jewels. Now on top of their current jobs, family, and church involvement, they are chipping away at a training program that will allow them to serve full-time in missions when they “retire.”
This is Brad and Cass’s story:
Some years ago, my wife, Cass, and I watched a documentary called, “A Walk to Beautiful,” about Dr. Catherine Hamlin who chose to give her later years to setting up a hospital for women in Ethiopia who had traumatic injuries related to childbirth. After hearing Dr. Hamlin talk about how she felt to “give away” her later years to serve Jesus, Cass and I felt a challenge to use the remaining years of our lives to serve Jesus with whatever gifts we had. Since that time, we have been aiming to take an early retirement from the Royal Australian Air Force and serve Jesus amongst the unreached people of the world who have no access to the gospel.
While waiting on the Lord for direction how we would best serve him, I heard about a model of ministry which was reaching unengaged people groups by sending missionaries teams to live amongst unreached and unengaged people and learn their culture and language with the aim to teach the story of God’s redemption in their own native language. Soon after this time, we connected with Mike and Libby Wild, and after getting to know them, we visited them in their tribal village amongst the remote people of Asia Pacific.
This “vision trip” helped confirm that this was the type of ministry we wanted to be involved in. God will draw those he loves from every tribe and nation to see his name glorified, throughout all eternity, as believers from every people group are gathered around his throne worshipping our great God and Father. For us, we couldn’t start planning our retirement to fulfill our own desires while there was still so much to do in proclaiming his name amongst the nations of the world.
We still have some cross-cultural training left to complete, but the exit date from our regular jobs is rushing at us quickly. At times, we feel overwhelmed by the daunting task ahead and at our weakness to make an impact in our own strength, but we are comforted by the knowledge that is exactly where God wants us, looking and trusting in him, in whom all things are possible.
So maybe, like us, you are getting nearer to the end of your regular employment and have the opportunity to use your later years to serve the Lord. So lift your vision and look to the field that God has for you. It is ready and waiting, if you are willing to trust him with your life. It sure beats retirement.
We hosted the Edwardes for a week, hoping to encourage them by what the Lord was doing in the far corners of the jungle, but they were the ones who encouraged us. Their spark looks like a spark of grace that can only have one source—Christ himself.
“Retirement” for the Edwardes could look like learning a foreign culture, learning a new language, living in less than comfort, but they are willing to do that because they know true joy doesn’t come from the things of this world but from counting the cost of following Christ where he leads!
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