If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. —John 15:7
In the spring of 2000 my wife Sandy and I attended a Finishers Forum at EvFree Fullerton. We have attended many conferences, but this one challenged us to think about how we could spend our retirement years in Kingdom service. One speaker posed this question: “At the gates of Heaven when God asks you ‘Those gifts I gave you—what did you do with them?’ how will you respond?” Since then, we have prayed that the Lord would place people and experiences in our path to teach us how to take that speaker’s challenge seriously.
Our prayers were consistently answered because the Lord placed many inspiring and mentoring people in our path. Within a year we took our family on our first short-term mission trip, into the Amazon jungle in Ecuador. In later years we participated in short term mission trips to Thailand, China, North Africa, Vietnam, and most recently, Portugal. On each trip we learned about Kingdom service from our missionary partners and the local churches they served and how both were working to share the Gospel with unreached people across the world. Each trip had its unique challenges, but each time the Lord has blessed us with protection and continued insight about our call to service. I served on the Mission Board, Sandy and I volunteered to be mission coordinators for our Sunday community class, and Sandy accepted a job with a mission organization.
We also felt convicted by Jay Williams’ passion for local outreach and have enjoyed partnering with him on various initiatives like Love Fullerton and OC United. We learned first-hand that Kingdom service is not exclusively global or local; Kingdom service means seeing all of our spheres of activity as mission fields. Taking Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor means looking beyond borders and boundaries to see everyone as our neighbor.
Fast-forward to my retirement from a local college in 2015 and plans to work for a non-profit affiliated with the college. At the same time, I was struggling with an undiagnosed muscle disease that made my life physically miserable. Just before I was to start working for the non-profit, a doctor explained the disease to me, developed a medical plan of action and asked me to focus on getting well. I had to withdraw from the non-profit job and spent a month of personal evaluation, prayer, and meetings with Dan Crane and Jay Williams to see how I might change my plans into Kingdom service. One of those conversations led to an offer from Dan to serve on the leadership team of Love Europe, which became a 14-month assignment. In retrospect, I can see that the illness was all part of God’s plan to answer our prayers for Kingdom living and Kingdom service.
I recently accepted the position of assistant to Dan Crane, which means that once more, the Lord has answered our prayers with very specific experiences with amazing people engaged in active Kingdom service. Want to get involved in missions? Stay tuned for special announcements and speakers in the coming months or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.