By Doug Priest
A few years ago men from Eastside Christian Church in Fullerton, California, made a two-week trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to work with Joni and Nangsar Morse at their rural training center called Eden Center. People from near and far go there for periodic training and to work on its rice farm.
A dormitory was needed where people could stay when they came to Thailand from Burma, Tibet, and China, so the Men on a Mission group, as they were called, worked with the Morses to determine the materials needed for such a project. The items were all purchased ahead of time. The group arrived and worked from dawn to sunset every day for about 10 days, completing a good part of the dormitory.
Recently Bob Eldridge and Denny Fulk went to Nairobi. They were there for about two weeks. Bob was employed in human resources with Dow Chemical and Denny had his own business. For the past 12 years Denny has been focusing on “business as mission” with Christian Missionary Fellowship. Bob and Denny had the Kenyan staff take written evaluative tests prior to their arrival, then met with 30 staff leaders in individual sessions as well as group sessions. Bob also met with three missionary couples and worked with them in their leadership roles. The trip was a great success.
Dorothy Equitz was a schoolteacher in Southern California who reached retirement age, but wasn’t ready to retire, so she applied to become a teacher at a Christian international school in Indonesia. Since I lived in Singapore at the time, and I made regular trips to Indonesia, I often got to see Dorothy in action.
She was a great asset to the school. She enjoyed living in Indonesia. In fact, as a retiree, she could live in Indonesia cheaper than in America since the school provided her housing, helped her with airfare, and the food was cheaper. She taught in Indonesia for three or four years, and loved almost every minute of it. She missed her kids and grandkids, but she came home either during the summer or during the Christmas break. Mission experiences like these are quite commonplace.
Naomi Mynatt, a retiree from Indianapolis, worked at the same school. She signed on for a year and ended up staying for about seven. Bob Mulkey, a retired preacher, taught at the same school in Indonesia for several years. His wife, Ann, worked in the school library.
After service in the Navy, Dick Mangel worked with Sinclair Refining Company and then with the Amoco Corporation. After serving in the chemical division, he worked in the transportation division. In 1993 Dick opted for early retirement. He and his wife, Virginia, began to focus on short-term mission trips.
In 2000 they learned of CMF’s Marketplace Ministries, and since that time have worked in China, Thailand, and most recently Kenya. In China, Dick served as the foreman for the construction of a chemical manufacturing facility. In Thailand, he helped oversee construction of a business as mission effort, the building of a physical fitness center. In Kenya, he served as the field business administrator. Virginia has taught women in the Nairobi slums some sewing and crocheting, which they have used as a microbusiness. The Mangels have been married for more than 52 years and have three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Joyce Smith was a missionary in Indonesia before returning to the United States to take up a career in pastoral counseling. Then on Christmas 2004 the world woke up to the horrible tsunami with its epicenter off the Indonesian coast. Joyce said to herself, The people in Indonesia are going to be in great need of pastoral counseling. There are going to be children who lost their parents, parents who lost their children, husbands who have lost their wives, and wives who have lost their husbands. There are going to be thousands of people with post-traumatic stress, and many of these people will have lost their homes.
She went on to reason, I lived in Indonesia, I speak the language, I know the culture, I am a counselor, and I can get away. So that is exactly what she did—as a member of the 55-plus group. She went to Indonesia and stayed there in important ministry for more than a year.
In Joyce’s case, it was not only her ability, it was also her availability.
Doug Priest is the executive director of Christian Missionary Fellowship, a contributing editor for Christian Standard, and still a kid at heart. This article is adapted from a workshop presented at Mayfest, Oregon Christian Convention, April 2010.