Anyone who has been in ministry very long knows that there are “times that try men’s souls”. Segments of ministry life that challenge everyone and, unfortunately, overwhelm some. There are also times that are tremendously rewarding, that encourage and lift up. Those are the segments of life that keep us going – if we can pause long enough to remember them.
For over 50 years we (JoLynn and Carl) have been on a ministry journey that has been more diverse than we would have ever dreamed. In the beginning we planned to be pastor and pastor’s wife. Although church ministry was a large part of our life, God has enlarged our influence far beyond our plans. In the past 15 years we have had the privilege of teaching and working with missionaries and Christian workers serving in over 100 different countries of the world. From the beginning we were in this journey together. Although we write separately in the book, it is not Carl’s story or JoLynn’s story. It is our story.
We recognize that God does not promise that we will see the fruit of our labor until we see Him face to face. But He is a gracious God who now and then gives us a peek into His great love and lets us see a bit of what lies ahead. We share some of those glimpses in the book. We are humbled to think that God has used us to keep missionaries on the field who are reaching hundreds for His kingdom.
One question we had to ask ourselves is this: What is significant enough in our life and ministry to share with others? Which of the many stories should we tell? Most importantly, what is it that would cause those in ministry to read our book and be blessed by it?
Have you ever noticed the wild flowers begging to be noticed among tall grasses? It is often a very small blue or yellow flower trying desperately to grow and be noticed by the onlookers. We may be the only human to see it but God sees it too and sees it as significant! We have many stories from our years of ministry, but the ones that have blessed others the most seemed small and insignificant to us at the time. God seems to rejoice in the small stuff!
There is something about our journeys in life that display the hand of God. Recalling them, while sometimes difficult to do, reveals the core of who we are. As you read about segments of our journey, you will get to know us well. You will feel some of the pain we experienced. You will be encouraged to persevere as we had to at times, believing that the times of privilege and reward are somewhere in the future. You will laugh as we recall some of the more humorous events. We pray that you will be able to rejoice with us as we enjoy the harvest. You will be encouraged and blessed!