One of my first trips as President of TWR Canada was to Central Asia. In those days, the airport terminal at my destination was in a state of disrepair, and the people in immigration didn’t smile. It was a quiet and intimidating process. As I came out into the reception hall, I was met by Frank Reyburn.
Frank had an Irish accent, and, for the first few minutes, I had to listen carefully to understand what he was saying. My ear adjusted quickly, and I soon realized we have a lot in common. For example, we are both more comfortable with a tool in our hand than we are speaking to a group of people at a conference. After only a few hours in Central Asia, I quickly recognized I had found a kindred spirit in Frank, someone who was going to become a good friend and co-labourer in ministry.
If meeting Frank wasn’t a big enough blessing, when I met his family, I knew that I had found something special. The children, Josh, Naomi, Sarah, Joy and Lois, were a breath of fresh air. They didn’t treat me like I was anything special. In fact, they gave me a hard time, which I deserved from the moment I met them. We teased each other and played games together. They plotted against me; it was like they had known me forever. From the first time I met them to this day, I have been Uncle Ray to them.
And Frank’s wife, Edel … how do I describe Edel? She is the mom, and she has an incredible gift of hospitality. She is a godly servant and has a sense of what is needed and when it is needed, and she readily supplies it. She is truly like a sister to me, and the amazing thing is that I think that everyone who knows her feels the same way! It’s just her warm, welcoming way.
Why am I telling you all of this? Why is this family so important to TWR Canada?
Very often in ministry, we share stories about lives that have been changed because of our broadcasts or because of an on-the-ground partner that directly interfaces with them. These stories are wonderful, and it is why we do what we do, but that is only part of the story; and the other part of the story often goes untold.
There are so many people who work behind the scenes so that we can have personal interactions, and the Reyburns are one of those families. Today I want to honor them for their service.
Frank and his family were called to Central Asia 14 years ago. They had not specifically set out to serve with TWR; however, through a set of circumstances, they became an integral part of our ministry. TWR has a training centre in Central Asia that consists of three buildings that can accommodate over 50 people at one time. Our Persian ministry leader travels to this location numerous times a year to hold training conferences. It is here that Iranians can come to learn, worship and fellowship with other believers.
To facilitate those trainings, someone has to ensure that the buildings are heated or cooled, that the buildings are maintained, that the sheets are washed, the beds are made, the place kept clean, that people are picked up at the airport or the bus station, that the bills are paid … plus so many more details. We also have built one building from scratch and renovated two others; this requires a whole new level of behind-the-scenes work: working with contractors, hosting work teams, translating and purchasing supplies. In addition to this, they have prepared thousands of meals, housed literally hundreds of people and done it all with smiles on their faces. I consider them family, and I know that many others who have crossed the threshold of their front door feel the same.
The job this family has done and the excitement they have shown in doing it could only be done with a calling on their life. And it has not been just Frank and Edel who have done this work; the entire family has worked together to make this all happen. It truly is a family affair. God calls special people to do special tasks.
In 2018, the Reyburns were experiencing a tug of war within themselves. They loved their life in Central Asia, but circumstances had presented themselves that suggested their time of service there was potentially coming to an end. After seeking God’s will at this crossroads, he clearly showed them that they were not alone in this decision; he would be with them and provide direction. And he was faithful.
On March 30, the Reyburn family returned to Ireland, ending their many years of service in Central Asia, at least for now. God has clearly used this family. Many have been encouraged by the fellowship they have had personally with them. And many more Persians have been blessed by their service to them. How do you say thank you?
The words in this blog are not sufficient to express our thanks to them. Yet, this short blog is my way of honouring them. I want people to know that ministry is typically never done by a single person; it takes a team, and the Reyburns have been a significant part of our team. They served above and beyond, with a passion for the Lord and those they served. They were a great blessing to the ministry.
I left Central Asia both happy and sad. I am sad because saying good bye to such good friends is very difficult, but there is happiness in my heart because I know God is faithful and will continue to be all they need. God has also shown himself faithful to TWR Canada by putting people in place to fill the gap that the Reyburns are leaving.
I have one final request; please join me in praying for this family as they continue to serve God back in Ireland.