hen Beverly Hammack retired as director of the
Division of Mission Ministries with the Home Mission Board, she didnt stop
reaching out with the good news. Now shes a volunteer with a mission. Im an
encourager, she says. Thats my calling.
So after she retired, she served first as a volunteer with Stone Mountain
Ministries, an evangelistic outreach to resorts. In addition, through the
Georgia Womans Missionary Unions Christian Womens Job Corps, she sets up sites
where women can make a year-long commitment to helping other women move out of
poverty by giving emotional and spiritual support and personal mentoring.
This is an opportunity to help believers become on mission Christians with their own
evangelistic outreach. As these Christians offer the physical and emotional
help that others need, they earn the right to say, May I tell you about my
Will Beverly keep doing this?
Yes, she says she will. Not being employed gives me a wonderful opportunity
to go at my own pace. I get fulfillment out of working with people and seeing
them grow and come to know the Lord. Thats vital to me. Due to family/home
responsibilities she does most of her volunteer work through email now, another
great medium for volunteer missions.
And Beverlys not alone. A lot of on
mission retirees keep on going in ministry. They are seeing doors open to
evangelism that are, for many, one of the greatest opportunities theyve ever
had to lead others to Christ.
Each of us has something to contribute. To agree with God that we are
experienced and blessed helps us to enter into a wonderful phase-three ministry
of life. If the first phase of life was taken up with growth and education, and
the second phase of life is occupied by career and rearing a family, then phase
three is that of teacher, contributor, helper and friend.
In phase three some people hit the wall and others hit their stride. Dont
quit before God takes you out of His work force. Be able to say with Jesus:
I have brought you glory on earth by
completing the work you gave me to do (John 17:4).
The enjoyment of phase three comes in bringing together all that God has
given and taught us, and then offering that to others.
The senior adult population in North America
represents the single largest potential volunteer force in the history of
Christendom. This generation has more time, better health and more resources
than any generation before them, said Jim Burton, director of Volunteer
Mobilization for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
He said that senior adults need to respond to mission initiatives, because
the needs are simply that great. Every day we hear more about the lostness of
North America and the need for a touch from people who know Jesus Christ. Among
the greatest resources in our churches are senior adults, especially those who
have grown up in our churches, have a lifetime of faith, a good knowledge of
scripture and a deep commitment to the propagation of the gospel.
In many ways seniors need missions as much as missions need seniors. It
gives them significance in life when they are involved in ministry that touches
Right now in the Southern Baptist Convention, nearly a million Baby Boomers
will soon be eligible for retirement. If that generation of Baptists jumps into
volunteer missions and invests 5, 10, 15 years it could become one of the
greatest movements in the history of Christendom in terms of propagation of the
An ideal area of service for seniors is to become a Mission Service Corps
volunteer, added Jim.
When we give ourselves away in volunteer ministry, we
will leave behind generations who either come to faith or grow in faith because
of our influence on their lives. These men and women we reach with the good
news will, in turn, reach others. And so the outreach will continue for
generations to come. Its the greatest investment we can make. Its an investment
of ourselves in evangelism that every faithful believer needs to make.
Floyd Graber, a retired dairy farmer from Freeman, South Dakota, is a man who
overcame his shyness and used his passion for gardening to witness to others
about his faith. He is a role model for those who claim theyre too old to be
on mission Christians.
Most people are too shy to witness, he says. I think its our responsibility.
Thats why, when Graber retired in 1978, he devoted his
time to creating a scripture garden in his yard. For more than 20 years Grabers
front and back lawns were filled with roses, petunias, begonias, geraniums. He
also built a seven-tiered waterfall, a lily pond, flower-decked pyramids and a
And then there were the signs. Lots of them.
Graber made more than a hundred signs with Masonite letters displaying
scripture, and he arranged them throughout this garden. He also had an archway
with boxes holding Christian literature for those who were interested. Creating
interest in the gospel was Grabers goal.
Thats why I used flowers, he says. When they walked around they read the
signs too. Otherwise they wouldnt have stopped.
Not only do people in town stop, but people from around the state, across
the country and all over the world make the pilgrimage through his garden.
People learn about the place by word of mouth, and visitors have come from
California and Canada, Europe and even China. Children from the local school
come and stare in awe at the waterfall, while residents of a nearby nursing
home admire the flowers.
To increase interest, Graber changes the displays through the year. In the
spring and summer he fills his garden with flowers, but in the winter he
strings lights and gold garlands between the signs. He also erected painted
panels telling the story of Christs birth. For Graber it was time well
Most people just work for a living, he says. They make a lot of money so
they can retire early and have a good time. There is more to life than just
making a living. So many people dont realize that.
Marion, South Dakota
The opportunities for service are everywhere. Allison Westgate, who with her
retired physician husband, Hugh, has done short-term missions in other
countries, volunteers at home too.
There is so much to be done in our own city. I have volunteered from four to
40 hours a week. There are 3,000 volunteer opportunities in our own county
alone. There isnt a talent in the world that God cant use somewhere, she
There are lots of opportunities, adds Gerry Hutchinson, NAMB Church and
Community Ministries Evangelism manager. Go to your own church. See what
ministries need help.
He suggests Baptist centers where retired volunteers can work with children,
youth, single-parent families, single adults. They can volunteer in
after-school programs, help poor readers, be available to kids who might
otherwise go home to an empty house. On
mission people eagerly take these opportunities and are able to see
firsthand how God blesses their efforts as the men and women and children they
help become new followers of Christ.
Retirees are working in healthcare centers, helping people with medical
forms, steering them to dental help if they need it, engaging in conversation
that not only helps people with their personal and family problems but often
leads to an opportunity to share Christ. A helper is a friend, and an
on mission friend can warmly and
naturally give a word of witness that points people to Christ.
Volunteers help people coming off welfare by teaching them basic work skills
such as how to dress, the importance of punctuality, resolving conflicts on the
job. Others help by teaching English to immigrants or teaching adults with
limited schooling how to read and write.
Volunteers can do many things that are important to
enhance the Kingdom. The key is, is there a need on the field and is there a
volunteer? We put the two together, says Randy Wood, NAMB Missionary Personnel
Through the Mission Service Corps there are doors of opportunities in every
state. There were already 2,643 individuals engaged as long-term volunteers. Go
to the NAMB website (www.namb.net/vols/msc) and take a look state by state to
see the needs, talk to your pastor or visit with the MSC leaders in the state
conventions who recruit and engage volunteers.
Ross Martin, a retired business executive, adds: Retirees have a testimony
to offer, a lifetime of experience that shouldnt go to waste.
Ross now spends his time a long way from corporate boardrooms. He goes to
prison, visiting and leading Bible studies. Im able to give the prisoners a
positive father image which many didnt have from their own fathers. And,
because he and the prisoners are studying the scriptures, Ross is free to open
Gods Word to passages about salvation, to show the prisoners that Gods offer of
new life is for them.
Want to help with construction at the Virginia
Baptist Childrens Home in Virginia, or build and paint at the Brooklyn Chinese
Baptist Church in New York, or Iglesia Bautista Southmost-Brownsville in Texas,
or the Jenness Park Baptist Assembly in California, or a church in the Keystone
Association in Pennsylvania?
Those and hundreds of other opportunities (including non-construction
projects) are out there right now. MSC volunteers need to commit to 20 hours a
week, four months or longer. There is usually provision for housing in homes,
even RV hookups in many places. Its a great opportunity to work with fellow
Baptists in a meaningful contribution that will make a difference.
Each of these ministries already has an outreach. Volunteer mission
opportunities are listed on the NAMB website (www.namb.net). Click on and pray.
Ask God to lead you to the place He would have you serve. Request copies of
volunteer mission resources such as OnSite by calling customer service,
800-233-1123. For more information about becoming a Mission Service Corps
volunteer call 800-426-8657.
NAMB president Robert E. Reccord issues an invitation to us all: Were
looking for people who arent merely interested in serving where the road is
easy but who are ready to serve where there is no road and will pay the price
to make one. Then he challenges every person retired or getting ready to
retire: Why dont you join the ranks of these who are changing tomorrows world
And he is right. Why dont we?
But my health isnt so good, some people
Eva Prior is legally blind, so she cannot leave her
home. But younger women come to her. She mentors them and teaches the Bible to
Some women dont know that God sent His Son for them. Some know a little but
are not certain of their own relationship with Christ. In the quiet of her
home, this non-threatening blind woman can help them know the certainty of sins
forgiven and life everlasting. And, for those who are believers, she is able to
help them grow in their faith and become strong witnesses for Christ where they
Eunice Herbold says: Id be so bored (doing nothing), I couldnt stand it. I urge
people, Get into some kind of volunteer work. Make a schedule and stick with it. Do it faithfully, not
just for a month or two.
Want to know the schedule this retiree keeps? She rises early, walks more
than a mile to her church where she works mornings (even willingly doing some
volunteer janitorial work), then heads out to the various ministry
opportunities. She holds Bible studies for the residents at three retirement
homes. In those Bible studies she may only be able to take one verse, like John
3:16, but she can explain it and show the elderly people that this Word from
God is for them.
She also calls on individual residents at four to five other places, giving
a personal word of witness as she visits. Then she conducts worship services at
three nursing care facilities. I try to emphasize joy, she says. We all have
problems, but God remains faithful. She can explain simply and clearly what it
means to depend on the faithfulness of God.
Eunice continues: Not everyone can do this, of course, because of health
problems. But its a much more fruitful and interesting life to be serving. Ive
been doing this for 22 years and find it wonderful. I seek to do it for Gods
glory. The Lord has given me a real love for these old people. And the
residents of the places where she holds Bible studies and conducts worship
services are glad she feels that way.
Maynard Johnson and his wife, Thelma, went to Africa for a short-term
ministry. Maynard says: We were stretched in so many waysphysically because we
walked instead of going by vehicle. We were stretched intellectually; when I
taught I had the only textbook and made mimeographed sheets. But the people did
learn. I was stretched emotionally, to be far from family and from
conveniences. And I was stretched spiritually. I saw God work in peoples lives
in more ways than I ever thought possible.
When the Johnsons left Africa, the people asked
them if they would be back. They reminded the people of their age. Well, came
the reply, Moses started at age 80. So the Johnsons asked their doctor about
it. What about our health? they asked. Their doctor replied, You have to die
somewhere. Why not in Africa?
Canadian George Hilton retired and went to Ethiopia to teach computer skills
and set up a computer program for churches running a work-for-food program
under the auspices of the Baptist Union of Western Canada. He says: We had two
computers to train 25 people. We worked out a schedule of a half hour per day per
person from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It was 10 p.m. before we got back to our place of
residence for supper. In six weeks not one person missed his or her class time;
they were eager to learn. I never saw such a prayerful, thankful people.
Then he adds an interesting aside for senior volunteers. Frankly, some
things were difficult. We had a tin of drinking water for the whole day.
But when we got used to it, it was fine. I find that if you use common sense
you should be able to roll with this kind of thing. Im not saying it is easy,
but certainly a well-adjusted older person is better at doing this than some
younger people. I think being older gives us more ability to cope with it.
Roger Palms, former editor of Decision magazine
with the Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association, has not retired either. He is the author of 14 books,
including Celebrate Life After 50.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC