HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR SOMEONE WHO JUST TURNED FIFTY? If you have, you undoubtedly heard the “over the hill” statement directed to the one reaching this milestone in life. Unfortunately, the idea of “over the hill” seems to have affected many seniors in what they feel they think they can do for the Lord. Some feel the Lord’s work is for “young people” or have the idea, “I’ve done my part; now it’s someone else’s turn. It’s time for me to take it easy.” Are these ideas true? Is that what God wants?
I was interested to read that an astronaut on a recent space mission was sixty-one years old. And it was more interesting to note that he is not the oldest astronaut in the space program. The thought came to me, if men and woman in their sixties can be effective in space, can they not be effective in serving the Lord, perhaps in missions?
We live in a day of unusual opportunities. Many companies in their downsizing efforts are offering retirement packages to employees in their fifties. DEDICATED CHRISTIANS with early retirement packages could go to a mission field and not have to raise financial support through deputation. What a blessing it would be to a missionary for a godly layman to come and help. There is so much that could be done to relieve the missionary of busy work so he could do the most important things. The encouragement of just having someone to help would be a blessing in itself.
I hear many folks talk about retirement. I must admit there are days that I think about it, too. Then I ask myself, WHAT IS RETIREMENT ANYWAY? If it’s a life of sleeping late, being under my wife’s feet, chasing a little white ball around the “greens,” or planning our trip to Florida for the winter, then retirement is not for me.
I think many share the goal of serving the Lord while they have the health to do so, or until God calls them home. Now please understand, you do not have to go to the mission field to serve the Lord. But with THE WORLD POPULATION EXPANDING, and the number of missionaries decreasing, why not consider s pending a few good years on the mission field? Sure, you can give, pray, and support missions in other ways, but why not prayerfully consider if God would use you as a missionary in your “over the hill” years?
I know of a lady who did just what I am suggesting. As a widow over sixty, she surrendered to the Lord to go to the missionary field. She went to Bible college to prepare for missionary service, went on deputation to raise support, and then went to the mission field. She arrived on the mission field at the age of sixty-five and served effectively until the Lord called her home in her nineties.
Some have asked, “What you suggest is reasonable, but WHAT COULD I DO ON THE MISSION FIELD AND HOW DO I GET STARTED?”
To get you started, let me throw out some possibilities. First, check out the Men for Missions/Ladies Missionary Fellowship groups in your church. If your church does not have such groups, talk to your pastor about starting one. Many churches send “work teams” from the Men for Missions group to help with construction, maintenance, and similar projects on the mission field. This could expose you first-hand to the mission field and the missionaries serving there. Perhaps as husband and wife, you could follow up one of these trips with a short visit to the field. ONCE YOU GET STARTED, GOD WILL DIRECT YOU.
That’s how to get started, now to the question of what to do? Everything you can think of that needs to be done around your church and community needs to be done on the mission field. Many missionaries today face the added responsibility of home-schooling their children and could use assistance in providing their children with a good education. A retired couple (or single) could meet this need and render valuable service to the missionary family. Keeping the financial records of the ministry or helping with the printing and distributing of tracts and gospel literature would be other possibilities. As mentioned above, vehicle and equipment maintenance as well as construction would be valuable. Let your imagination run wild on the idea of “what could I do?”
If what you have read sounds interesting, pray for God’s direction, and then talk to your pastor and seek his advice. Although he may hate to lose you for a short time, he would be thrilled to be a part of the sending forth of laborers into God’s harvest field.
THE TIME IS SHORT AND THE NEED OF MISSIONS IS GREATER THAN EVER. You are not too old to serve the Lord. Caleb experiences his best years when he was eighty-five. His focus was not retirement, but “give me this mountain.” For what mountains are you asking God? There is a place of service for you. By the way, my wife, Barbara, and I went on deputation and left for the mission field after we turned fifty. In our sixties now, we find real fulfillment serving the Lord in the effort of world missions and plan to continue as long as GOD GIVES US STRENGTH
The above articlede was written by BWM field administrator, Dr. Ron Brooks. This article titled, “You’re never too old to be involved in MISSIONS,” appeard in Today’s Christian Senior, Vol. 2, No., 2 pp. 4-5.