I’m too old for mission

24 Jul 2019

Reasons not to go No.4

Do you think you are too old for mission?  If you are able to speak of your love for Jesus and what he has done on the cross, what difference knowing his love has made in your life, then you are ready for mission, be it at home or overseas.  Having just returned, somewhat reluctantly, from serving in the USA with Native Americans, whose need to hear and respond to the gospel is as urgent as anywhere in the world, I can vouch for the amazing and challenging task that I was given by the Lord, back when I was a theological college in 2009.  I had five short years on the field there and have returned simply because the cost of health care in the USA is astronomical and as a missionary, quite out of my reach.  Otherwise, I would still be there, and happy to be so until I became a burden to my teammates!  However, the Lord moves in mysterious ways and I developed a sensitivity to spores in the soil and dust of Arizona where the team worked.  It was obvious to the team and me, that this would be an ongoing problem, hence my return to Sydney.

This has, however, not dampened my desire to continue to serve with Pioneers in a similar capacity and God is working that out with a church in Sydney that ministers to the indigenous people of Australia. 

Just to give you a quick overview of the timeline of his journey, I attended theological college in 2009 during which time I had my 70th birthday.  I was not the oldest student at that college. My neighbour in the classroom was 83 years old!  I completed my studies in 2012 and started survey trips to the USA to meet with a team that was planning to work with a tribe of Natives in their reservation in South Dakota.  However, this team did not plan to start work until 2017 and I was more than ready to start so I was seconded to the Indian Bible College in Flagstaff, Arizona for two years, after which I joined another team to work with the Apache people in southern Arizona. 

The three years I was with this team were probably some of the best years of my whole life.  Difficult and challenging as they were, it was thrilling to be part of the team. The other members were Americans, and that in itself was an interesting challenge.  It meant that two cultures needed to be understood, the Anglo-American culture and the Apache culture.  This was a different kind of mission field in that the gospel had been taken in years ago, churches were started, but were ‘stuck’ in the early 1900s with a somewhat legalistic view inherited from pastors or those trained by Anglo pastors to do things the Anglo way.  No room or thought was given to the native culture in many cases.  Difficult things to face and absorb, and building relationships in order to win the trust of people who felt disempowered by the government, was not an easy task.  But the great advantage that all three of our team members had was our age!  (We were 67,72 and 79 years respectively.) Age was a huge advantage as the Apache, and all native tribal people venerate age, and so we were quickly absorbed into their lives. 

This would be the same, I am sure, in many many other cultures.  So, in fact, age is an advantage and not a bar to mission work.  Too old for mission?  Never.

-Julie Reynolds.

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