05/22/2010: The Old and the Young
The Old and the Young
Heed the Call to Service
“In choosing men and women for His service, God does not ask whether they possess worldly wealth, learning, or eloquence. He asks, ‘Do they walk in such humility that I can teach them My way? Can I put My words into their lips? Will they represent Me?’” Ministry of Healing, 37.
Starting Out at Age 81!
In mid-September of last year, Elsa and I were conducting church presentations in Virginia when we saw a dear friend who has followed the work of Maranatha Medical Ministries from its very beginning. Her name is Mildred Thomas; we call her “Sister Mildred.” She was exceptionally excited to hear the testimonies and see the slide presentation of the great work God is doing here in the mountains of Honduras. After a few moments of greetings and re-acquaintance, Sister Mildred quietly looked at Elsa and said, “I wish I could go with you to Honduras. I may be old, and I don’t speak Spanish; but I want to work for the Lord.” Elsa and I looked at each other, and knew that this was no ordinary request. There were no “alternate” motives for her wanting to go into the mission field. She truly wanted to do God’s will and His work. We first reminded Sister Mildred of the primitive conditions of Honduras; living conditions, though pleasant at the Outpost, would be much different in this “third world country.”
We then told Sister Mildred that, if God was leading her to join us in the mission field, she was welcome to come with us. I cannot adequately describe the smile on her face. Then, as if she could not believe her own ears, she asked, “You’re not just pulling my leg are you?” Elsa replied, “No, Sister Mildred. If God is directing you to be with us in Honduras, then He has a work for you to do there, and you are welcome to join us.”
Sister Mildred did not waste any time preparing for her trip. She immediately began giving away her furniture and packing up her clothes. She had never flown before, so this was extra exciting for her.
I often think of so many others who feel that God is calling them into the foreign mission field, but they make the fatal mistake of doubting whether God will keep His word to provide, protect and care for them. What I mean by fatal is that all precious opportunities and blessings that God wants to bestow upon us vanish once we begin to doubt Him. How wonderful it is to see someone who hears God’s voice directing and without hesitation or doubt chooses to follow Him. Sister Mildred is 81 years young, and has chosen to give all of her remaining years and energies in service to God. I have always told people that there is no such thing as “retirement” from God’s work. Every new day is filled with new opportunities, given to us by God, to be coworkers with Him in the saving of souls; what a tremendous privilege God has bestowed upon all of His children to work hand-in-hand with Him.
Sister Mildred is now at our Outpost and loves every minute being in the foreign mission field. Throughout the day, she busies herself quietly doing whatever she finds needing to be done. She is living proof that you are never too young or too old to obey God’s voice and heed His call.
May the Lord bless her decision to trust and obey His calling.
Young People Trained for Service
As we are about to reach the end of our first year with the Maranatha Missionary Training Center we can only give thanks and praise to God for what He is doing. What a privilege it is to actually see what the servant of God saw when she said that in these last days our youth would be trained, not by literary institutions, but by the unction of the Holy Spirit. In Counsels on Education, 24, it says, “When I was shown by the angel of God that an institution should be established for the education of our youth, I saw that it would be one of the greatest means ordained of God for the salvation of souls.” This is our goal; this is our prayer for our trainees. These young men have dedicated their lives for the service of God; and, by God’s grace, we will continue to move forward in doing our part to fulfill God’s desire: “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering, and sorrow, and sin.” Education, 271.
The education our M.T.’s (Missionary Trainees) receive is well-rounded. Their day begins with worship; then they are off to the gardens, where they learn how to nourish and cultivate the soil. Our goal is to soon harvest 80% of all we consume here at theOutpost. We are told that, “Study in agricultural lines should be the A, B, and C of the education given in our schools.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 179. No, it is not an easy life for our Trainees; they are all young men in their early teens. They live at the
Outpost, away from their family members. They experience the peer pressure from the youth they used to associate with; but, thank God, these young men have dedicated their lives to Him completely, and their minds are focused on one thing: obedience, faithfulness and honor to God. Every day is filled with new opportunities to surrender self to Christ.
“The Lord calls upon our young people to enter our schools and quickly fit themselves for service. In various places outside the cities,schools are to be established where our youth can receive an education that will prepare them to go forth to do evangelical work and medical missionary work.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 170. “The students are in our schools for a special training, to become acquainted with all lines of work, that, should they go out as missionaries, they could be self-reliant and able, through their educated ability, to furnish themselves with necessary conveniences and facilities.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 208.
During the week, when not giving Bible studies, our M.T.’s go out into the nearby towns, selling whole wheat bread and sharing the Word of God with all they meet. They now have more than a dozen active Bible Studies. When you look at our Missionary Trainees, you know that you are looking at Christian young men. There is a pleasantly distinctive difference in them from other young men; and they are all too eager to tell you what that difference is.
One day two of our M.T.’s went high into the mountains to give Bible Studies. Now, those of us who give studies know just how exciting things can get, and how time flies when the Holy Spirit is moving. Well, towards the late afternoon, our M.T.’s realized they had not bought sufficient water and did not have any food to eat. They had a decision to make: either skip the Bible Study and return to the Outpost where there is plenty of food and water, or continue on and ask God for the strength to make it through the mountains for the last remaining Bible Study. No food, no water—yet these two young men decided together to trust God for their strength, and they continued climbing the mountain to their last Bible Study. Nothing short of a love for God and a love for souls could bring one to decide to do without food and water in order to continue doing missionary work. God honors those who honor Him. After praying for God’s blessing upon them, they started out up the mountain; and what do you suppose they found not far from where they had prayed? You guessed right!!! They not only found a beautiful fresh-water stream, but also a tree loaded with delicious oranges. Jorge and Roger ate and drank their fill, and continued on to give their Bible Study. Our young men are learning the wonderful lessons of how God will and does take care of His disciples of today—the same as He did two-thousand years ago; all we need to do is trust Him and make His work our first priority.
Probably the most gratifying part of training these young men is seeing and knowing that their actions are not a result of something they learned in a classroom; rather it is the transformation of Christ’s character in them. True love and compassion cannot be taught or learned; it is something which comes only from ones connection with the Author of true love, Jesus Christ.
Joe and Elsa Willis
Maranatha Medical Ministries
PO Box 390
Keysville, VA 23947