But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:8 WEB)
Prior to the mission field God worked to prepare our hearts for His plan. During college God guided and prepared us for the ministry and a different lifestyle.
One day at Fitch’s IGA, the local grocery store, I discovered I forgot my checkbook. No problem. Mr. Fitch nodded to the cashier, a note was placed in the register. I went home with my groceries and could pay him later. Mr. Fitch is gone now but I remember his love and kindness to struggling college students.
We were so encouraged we contemplated having a family. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we discovered our first child was on the way. I looked for a job. Beth wanted to work part time until Ellice was born and then be home full time. I was hired as Chief Engineer for a couple of radio stations in Lexington. I was on salary, the hours were flexible, a it was a perfect fit for a student with classes to attend.
The pay was not spectacular. After I received my pay and paid the bills we were left with about $20.00 to survive for another month. Things were tight but we enjoyed God’s provision. We didn’t starve, we lived a simple life.
Simplicity was one of the keys to Wilmore. Walking from home to the College was one of my favorite events. Our neighbors knew our names, children played in the school playground and the town was quiet.
We enjoyed sitting on our small front porch. We planted trees in our yard, it was a new housing area, and we watched the street develop. The city water tower was visible through our bedroom window. Every night a cross shone bright from the top of the tower. When the curtains were open there was comfort in the glow cast on the walls. God provided our home and He gave direction.
In my Junior year God guided me to change jobs. I became Assistant Chief Engineer to another pair of radio stations. I was not the boss, but they paid better. Six months after I was hired we were appointed as missionaries. I let my boss know we would eventually depart and I needed time for deputation. Lou was great. He had no objections and encouraged us in our ministry.
The work was good, hard, honest work. Our bills were paid. As our last days in the USA approached we realized we had nothing. Well, almost nothing. I sold my piano, the only piece of furniture with any value. Most of our furniture was tossed out used furniture. Our income barely kept us in our home. Our children, two by this time, enjoyed a happy life at home. They didn’t know anything different.
Our parents lived in other states. Ellice was almost ready to start Kindergarten and Joel was learning about sleeping in a “big” bed. Memories were all that tied us to the USA. No home, no stash of stuff, even our car was from the recycled car lot. This was God’s preparation.
We arrived on Guam with no ties to things back home which would draw us away from the mission field. No home to maintain at a distance. Even the pay was an increase in salary!
These are the things which can pull a missionary’s heart to draw them back to the comfort and safety of their homeland. God kept these out of our life or removed them from our hearts before sending us to another land, with a new culture, a new experience in His grace and care.
Within a few days, of our arrival on Guam, we knew how to get around the most basic areas of the island. We established a bank account, visited the offices, transmitter site and learned more of how things work on the mission field. We were amazed at the wonder and glory of God’s provision which brought us to this new home.
We served fourteen years on the island of Guam. During those years God provided us with numerous opportunities to minister and serve within the confines of the mission, the local church and providing a helping hand with other mission organizations in the region.
Some of the staff were worried that the apartment was too small and the car was only available for a few days. I had to start work as quickly as possible. Time to settle into a new culture was not in the plan. But, it didn’t take as long as we thought to feel a part of the ebb and flow of island life.
In all this God calmed our hearts, our fears and provided us with grace to understand His provisions. We were expecting grass huts and primitive conditions. We arrived to a modern apartment building. It was small, but so was our family. It definitely worked. We were excited, thrilled, and blessed to be where God called us.
For some the thrill of expectation prior to arrival on the mission field is often dashed when things are not as advertised. We’ve seen people arrive and then quickly look for a way to return to the home they know, the comfort of family and a lifetime of memories. Beth and I were prepared by God for this change even though we didn’t know it. He does provide!