Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life Time Achievement

Not Motivated By Selfish Ambition

With my parents Carolyn & JQ
It certainly wasn't something they anticipated.  It wasn't even something they imagined.  And, it was an out-of-the-blue surprise to me as I read the words my mother had written in an email to me.  My mother and father had been informed that they had been selected to receive a Lifetime Commitment Award for a life time of vocational ministry from the Association of North American Missions in Branson, Missouri, on April 17, 2012.  She wrote that my brothers from Tennessee and Kansas planned to witness the award.  My eyes teared up as I told Pam I sure wished I could be with them, but Next Generation Ministries was hosting a team of six that week in Uganda and air fare to and from the States would most likely cost nearly $2,000.  I am so fortunate to have Pam as my life partner.  She encouraged me to not underestimate the Lord.  So ... yesterday I found myself arriving in Kansas City, the day before the award was to be made.

Sinking his putt for par!
And, not only was I going to be a part of this unique experience, by two of my children, Dawson and Stephanie, and one of my grandchildren, Blair, were all going to be a part of it too!  As it turned out, ALL of my siblings ... five of them ... were able to make it to Branson to share in the joy of giving God glory for the faithfulness of my parents in serving the Lord for over 60 years!

My mother turned 91 last month and my father turned 90 last Friday.  This morning he played 9 holes of golf with my brother John and my son Dawson.  What an amazing lifetime of grace has been on my parents for their 68 years of marriage. They met in Madison, Wisconsin in the 40's when my dad was receiving radio training as a member of the U.S. Navy.  They fell in love, got married, returned to Wisconsin after his discharge from the Navy, and began work as dairy farmers.  Well on  their way to a life time of agricultural existence with four young children, the Lord touched the heart of my father for foreign missions.  They liquidated the animals, the farming equipment, and the farm to go to bible college to train for this calling.  My mother and father ended up with six children by the time dad graduated, only to discovered that six children disqualified them for foreign  mission work.  He began preaching and filling church pulpits on weekends, working nights and going to classes during the day until his graduation in 1955.

Receiving their award April 17, 2012
Dad served as an American missionaries to various rural communities with an organization called Village Missions, including three years as a traveling evangelist.  During that time he also helped found a Christian School providing education for grades K through 12.  His heart continued to beat strong for foreign missions resulting in short term ministry in Peru, Bolivia, Indonesia, Philippines, Germany, and a full year of work in Russia when he and mom were in their early 70's.  He served another rural congregation until 2010 before retirement at age 88. Beside him every step of the way was his faithful, wise, and unflappable life partner.  He could have never sustained this lifetime of service without my mother.

Sharing in their joy
My parents were and are humble and ordinary people, but not passive.  What yielded a lifetime of fruitful ministry.was not selfish ambition, but availability and abandonment to sharing the love of God without boundaries.  Their influence was great and their impact eternal. They have finished their vocational ministry well and there is stored up for them a crown of righteousness. They recognized that they never owned the ministry or anything for that matter.  God was the owner of their lives,  They were simply managers of what He owned.  They held all that the Lord gave them in an open palm and they have blessed God and many people.  They introduced hundreds to Christ, encouraged dozens, and reproduced many who are a part of the next generation.

This is the public record of the faithfulness of my parents to a lifetime of service for God's glory.  But, it was their consistent faith and teachable hearts that impacted me.  I grew from inside their lives.  Their daily lives did not contradict their public proclamations.  They lived what they taught.  They modeled what they advised.  Their private devotion to the goodness of God is what left an imprint on me.  What an honor it was tonight to see the lifetime of public ministry recognized and rewarded. I'm confident there was applause in heaven as the Father said again, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  I watched my father wipe tears from his eyes.  His greatest joy was not the recognition he and my mother received tonight, but the presence of all of his children, his daughter in law, Peggy, two of his grandchildren and one great granddaughter honoring his life by coming from all over the United States and Uganda to be a part of this rare experience.

I'm encouraged. I take the words of the spiritual father Paul to Timothy as the words of my father to me:
To God be the glory
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught.  You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.  (1 Timothy 3:14)
Thanks mother and dad for teaching me to love the Lord and to surrender my life to Him.  I have no regrets and continue to stand amazed that He would allow me to do what I was taught to do by you in the nation of Uganda.  I am a part of your legacy.

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