Sep7ThuSeptember 7, 2017
Over the coming weeks, I’m excited to share the stories of Sandy’s and my years of ministry with TWR. Reminiscing about the journey and the highs and lows of these years has been a fun endeavour. I’m eager to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts, questions or other stories of our time in service.
On June 16th, 2017, we celebrated 30 years of service with TWR Canada. In November 1985, TWR accepted Sandy and I for this amazing journey, and the task of raising support began. As I reflect back on all these years, many memories come to mind.
My first thought was what have I done now; what have we gotten ourselves into? Becoming missionaries was a stretch for me to begin with. We had completed the process of many interviews including tests, seeing a psychologist and then hearing that we were mentally fit to be missionaries. I was still a mechanic and in my mind, I didn’t fit the image I had of what a missionary looked like, felt like or acted like. A missionary was a pastor, a person who had gone to Bible school or seminary, who had memorized huge portions of Scripture and was willing to go and live in a mud hut.
The largest challenge in my mind that towered above all of this was that I had never spoken publicly in my entire life. I don’t remember doing it in school, and if I had, I had erased it from my mind. That probably meant I hadn’t done a great job of it!
How was I going to arrange meetings with potential supporters? I was a first generation Christian, and my circle of friends was small. Sandy and I had been married just eight years, and we had moved three times. We weren’t well established. Our families, for the most part, didn’t understand how I, a man of 29, was going to give up all I had and become a missionary. Some told me I was crazy; I wondered the same at times.
We were suddenly in a world that was far from our norm, and it was scary. I made phone calls to pastors I didn’t know; I wrote letters and thank you notes; and I spoke in front of people. I‘m sure in those early days the letters were full of mistakes and the speaking put people to sleep. We struggled in many ways. I was working full-time, trying to raise support and raise a family. The whole process didn’t seem to be working the way they had told me it would. It was hard!
I had spent three years working 70 hours a week, in the Arctic of all places. I had earned enough to own my home, car, boat, trailer and have money in the bank. I worked hard. I deserved all I had worked for. Why hadn’t I stuck with my original plan? Why couldn’t I just have stayed in Kenora in my comfortable little house and continued to increase my net worth? In a sense, I was frustrated with God. He had clearly led us to the Arctic (that is another story), but why? Hadn’t he sent us there to allow us to make money? Hadn’t he sent us there to get us set up for the rest of our lives? That’s what we thought! However, God was clearly leading us again into something we hadn’t planned. Even if it wasn’t going according to my plan, we pressed on, trusting his leading.
There was so much we didn’t know, so much that was beyond our means to deliver. Things that sounded simple were complex. We had to write prayer letters, for example. Sounds simple – but it wasn’t! In those days, it was a painful process to write anything. It took hours. Then we had to type it, and that was even more painful. Sandy passed typing in school only because she promised the teacher she would never take typing again. I failed it outright.
We drove thousands of kilometres to speaking engagements, often with no response. Most of the time it was for an evening church service so we would do the service and then have to drive back to Kenora, arriving home after midnight. I was still working as an diesel mechanic at the time, so I was often tired on Monday mornings, but we kept pressing on.
Looking back now, I wonder why we kept going. Why didn’t we just say this is never going to work? Though we did say we would never get to the field many times, there was encouragement along the way that kept pushing us towards the goal. Somehow, even though we struggled in so many ways, we knew that this was God’s way, and once again he proved faithful.
Over the next number of weeks, we will tell you more about the journey – both the good and the bad and how we learned to trust God.