An excerpt from...
Keys from Retirees
Lessons from the trenches
By Rachel Elwood, Support Staff
By Rachel Elwood, Support Staff
“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”(Deuteronomy 32:7 NIV)
On this website, we’ve created a section called Heroes of the Faith to honor retired missionaries. As we’ve been gathering these stories over the last few years, we’ve stumbled across some wonderful words of wisdom from these incredible faith-filled men and women. Some of these saints have gone to be with the Lord since our conversations with them, and we’re thankful we had the chance to capture their stories.
Louisa Ammerman (1913-2011), served in Burundi: “Be willing to make the adjustments cheerfully and joyfully. Don’t be depressing or despondent. Try to see the best in everyone. Try to live in the right relationship always, both with others and with God.”
O. Carl Brown (1918-2010), served in Haiti with his wife, Martha: “Be in the Word and see where God’s heart is. When you go forth in the call, you’ll have a real love and desire to follow through. You’ll have continued enthusiasm about the Word. In doing so, God opens doors.”
Edna Dewey, 108, served in India with her late husband, Clifford: “Be sure you’re called [to missions]. Don’t go on your own. The work is hard enough that you need the Lord’s help constantly. There are disappointing times, but you pray through it, and get over it.”
Evelyn Harriman, 90, served in Bolivia and Paraguay with her husband, Harold: “A new missionary in Bolivia once asked me for some advice about adapting to the culture. I said, ‘Don’t speak English in front of Bolivians!’ You’ve got to love and respect them, and it’s not nice to speak a language they don’t understand in front of them. The land needs to become your land.”
Tim Hawk, 68, served in Honduras and at headquarters with his wife, Sharon: “From the very beginning, realize building relationships is the most important part of your ministry. Learn to invest yourself in people, not in busy work.”
Sue Martin, 74, served in Haiti and Haitian American Ministries: “Have a consistent devotional life. God is in control of what’s happening; be submissive to what He leads. Obedience—if you have that, you can adapt to any situation.”
Ellen Pfirman, 77, served in Burundi, on the American Indian Field, and in Kenya: “As a new missionary, I was as green as I could be. We had to trust the Lord through all the different circumstances, and I saw that He was faithful in all the problems we faced. He didn’t abandon us. The fact that we didn’t live in fear was a miracle.”
Paul Shingledecker, 68, served in Burundi and Haiti and at headquarters with his wife, Pat: “My prayer for every new missionary who came to Haiti or to one of our fields when we were regional directors was that within the first six months, and preferably within the first six weeks, they would find one close national friend. When that happened, it almost always changed their whole outlook on the culture, country, and language learning. All of a sudden the differences were no longer bad, just different! Deep national friendships make a missionary and nearly always assure his/her success.”
Caroline Heater Smith (1936-2014), served on the American Indian Field: “There are traits a person needs to be a missionary: getting up on time, going to bed at a decent time, learning to eat things you don’t want, having your devotions, and a sense of humor. Always be able to see the funny side of things.”
Mary Smith (1912-2010), served in Kenya and at headquarters with her late husband, “Hack”: “It’s the safest place in the world: being in the will of God. The most fulfilling life you can have is working for the Lord on the mission field or in His service.”
MORE: Want to hear the rest of these retired missionaries’ stories? View the Heroes of the Faith section.