An Uncommon Retirement

17 Mar 2020

Darwin.  1998 – 2000. The memories are vivid of this hot steamy tropical city.  Our family had relocated there in accordance with my husband’s posting with the Australian Army, resulting in our leaving behind family, friends, jobs, schools, church…everything that was familiar and comfortable. It was in this place God gained my attention, preparing my heart for something new.

Recipient of student sponsorship – Mangyan (tribal) group.

I was in my late forties and had been a Christian for some years.  In this place where familiar things had been stripped away, a restlessness and searching emerged.  I devoured stories of women establishing orphanages in Asia, of people’s lives making an impact in the lives of the marginalised, the ‘poor and the needy’, the broken.  Something was resonating in my heart.  Is this what You have created me for, Lord?  And being on the doorstep of Asia, I sensed a growing affinity towards the people and culture of that area.

In 2001 we returned to our ‘home’ in Canberra.  I was changed.  Deep in my heart God was watering the seeds He had sown.  Cross-cultural mission was at the forefront of my mind.  In a series of events, from changing churches to gaining a position at a Christian school, I could see God orchestrating circumstances so that I would walk into the destiny He had planned.  It was time to act on the ‘feelings’ of compassion!

Facilitating community development training.

Having been in Darwin at the time of the East Timor crisis, I had a desire to join teams to assist in the restoration of this new nation.  But God had other ideas.  The Christian school was sending its first team on a cross-cultural trip to the Philippines…I ‘knew’ that I had to be part of the team.

And so, from 2002 until now, nearly 20 years later, I have enjoyed a long-term relationship and mission adventure with the Philippines.  From short stays of a few weeks, months, and 18 months in 2006/7, cross-cultural mission has been very much part of my life.  Today my husband and I are enjoying an ‘uncommon retirement’, living in and ministering to the people of the Philippines, expressing the compassion of God through helping in the alleviation of poverty through wholistic community development.

Year 10 With Honors students at Canubing 1 High School.

In Ephesians 2:10 it says that we are ‘God’s masterpiece…created anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He has planned for us long ago.’  From my tentative first steps to current times, God has been at work in my heart, causing me to ‘step out’ in faith to fulfill the destiny He had planned, to have an impact on the lives of others, through His love, for their transformation, and for His glory!

– Narelle, a Pioneers worker serving in the Philippines.

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