Focus on the Family

Abounding Midlife Living

by Ed Chinn

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

American culture is increasingly marked by many shouting voices — demanding, confusing, manipulative, and discordant. They drive us to buy, watch, read, subscribe, vote, drive, eat, drink, wear and believe.

Because we live in an era of mass culture, we cannot easily escape the voices. They shout from billboards, computer screens, radios, televisions, print media and even the aisles of your grocery store.

In fact, modern life is becoming more like prison; we are losing control of the noise levels in our environment.

And, just as in a prison, the voices that bombard us come from those who do not know or love us. Think about it — every mass media voice that demands your action comes from unknown motives, agendas, and personalities.

Most of them want your money.

Recognizing the Thief

We all live our lives somewhere between the Lord's invitation to abundant life and Satan's attempts to destroy us. Those poles are clearly and concisely captured in John 10:10. Jesus, the One Who died for us, invites us into His abounding life. The devil's only intention for us is robbery, death, and destruction.

Few things are as tragic as the devil's tornadic path of destruction through people in midlife. We see them everywhere: crippled, diseased, confused, angry, fearful, addicted, lustful, lonely and bitter.

Behind each of those conditions is a voice that once called out. They spoke from sexual images flickering on a computer screen, the lure of easy credit, shameful political promises, fraudulent ideas of perpetual youth and other lying voices.

Does it seem that the Thief is particularly aggressive as people reach their midlife years?

I think so. He tempts us toward the tragic destructions of "last chance" indulgences of sex, money and power. And, at the same time, he tells us our life is over. He insists that, "at your age, you have nothing left to offer your family, church, community or nation."

In a youth-obsessed culture, that lie has sidelined too many who had and still have too much to give.

Age Never Disqualifies

When Joshua and Caleb were young men, Moses chose them for the elite reconnaissance team to spy out the Promised Land. And, of the 12 spies, they were the only ones who brought a good report. The other ten inflicted deep discouragement and doubt on the children of Israel.

God told Moses that all those who doubted would die in the desert. But, Caleb and Joshua — because they followed the Lord with a whole heart — would enter and inherit the land.

So, consider the dramatic scene 45 years later (as told in Joshua 14). Joshua is now the leader of the nation (following the death of Moses). And, as he presides over the allotment of the Promised Land, Caleb walks up to Joshua and asks if they can talk.

I just imagine these two old friends walking away from the crowd and gazing out at the land.

Caleb recalls the scene nearly a half century ago when he and Joshua went in to explore the very land on which they now stand. He reminds Joshua that the other spies "made the heart of the people melt" with fear. But, that he and Joshua had operated from a whole heart toward the Lord.

And, then, he gives radiant (and quite audacious) testimony of following the Lord into life's afternoon:

"So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.

"Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."

Then Joshua blessed Caleb … and gave him Hebron as his inheritance.

Josh 14:10-13 (NIV)

Age does not set anyone aside.

Some of the greatest stories in the Bible involve people who were too old. Besides an 85-year-old Caleb ready to "Rambo" his enemies, consider the aged Elizabeth becoming pregnant with John, 84-year-old Anna who served God in the temple "with fasting and prayer day and night" and, of course, Abraham and Sarah becoming parents in their very elderly years.

All of them lived a full life out of a whole heart toward God. Age is never a disqualifier. The only qualifying issue for an abounding life is the strength and clarity of our heart.

How to walk into "the Afternoon" of life

About 20 years ago, Joanne and I celebrated our anniversary with dinner in a fine restaurant. When the waitress, who was a newlywed, learned that we had been married "so long," she asked how we did it.

I told her, "Well, we decided we wouldn't take society's marital advice. It tends to celebrate things which destroy marriage and relationships. So, we don't think it makes sense to listen to the culture. We have chosen, instead, to follow Christ. He believes in our marriage, so we choose to listen to what He has to say."

As we approach our 44th anniversary, we still believe and are fully committed to that.

One of the saddest lines in the Bible is found in Hosea 7:9: "Strangers devour his strength, yet he does not know it."

Too many people give their strength to strangers. Often in midlife, they realize that those who did not know or love them had devoured their very vest. The raucous and loud voices of marketing, get-rich-quick schemes, sexual temptations, chemical addictions, and toxic affiliations had stolen their resources and relationships.

Those voices all emanate from the one who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy."

Doesn't it make more sense to listen to the One who invites us into abounding life?

This series of articles is designed to help those in (and beyond) the midlife years to live a full and abounding life. Despite the dishonest "surround-sound" of our culture, we can walk into the afternoon of life with abounding grace, peace, love, rest and joy. We will examine the application of that life in our families, churches, and communities.

But, in summary, I think the largest "how to" of living an abounding life is: listen to the Lord, not the myriad voices which surround us.

We know that the Lord loves us. We can always trust Him to speak words of life.

Like seeds, His words produce His life in the soil of our life. When those seeds push through the soil, they will feed and strengthen you throughout the afternoon of your life.

Caleb knew that. You can too. Caleb knew that. You can too.


Refusing the Patterns of Age

If we accept the natural beauty and appropriateness of all life seasons, we will discover that abounding life never diminishes. It burns bright even as we cross over from this life into the next.

by Ed Chinn

In nature, every season is proper.

The hard frozen ground of winter accomplishes purposes which are unique. The same is true of the unrelenting rain in the spring, the brutal heat and humidity of summer and the melancholy death of foliage in the fall.

But, have you noticed how the natural seasons, at some point, always cut across our preferences?

We want the rains of April to just stop so we can picnic in the park, and we beg the skies for rain in the July heat. We want a white Christmas, but if it comes, two weeks later we are so tired of that blanket of snow. It seems that we are drastically out of step with the natural seasons.

Adding to that dissonance, our consumerist culture values people and generations according to their market value. All products and services have a "prime demographic" of buyers.

One of the great tragedies of modern life is that we have imposed a market model on our relationships. For example, one way to make money from those still in the womb is to kill them. So, they become the market for the abortion industry.

At the other end of that market spectrum, what do we do with those who have quit buying because of their advanced age?

I do understand and appreciate the essential service providing by nursing homes; 70-year-old children cannot physically care for parents in their 90s. But, in our self-centered culture, convenience also drives a speedy disposal of the elderly; we efficiently sweep them out of our homes, churches and communities. They too often end up in the dustpan of institutions.

To follow Christ is to live in, and according to the values of, an alternate society. We should literally be agents of heaven on earth. And a very real part of that alternate society is to refuse the patterns of the age in fondness for those that are eternal.

From the very young to the very old, we should honor people in every season of life. When we find ourselves failing to honor it is usually a sign that our heart needs a tune-up from the Lord.

Honor

For most of his life, my grandfather worked a 160- acre farm in Pratt County, Kan. Incredibly, he and Grandma pulled enough out of the soil of that little place to raise 11 children. Even through the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Maple Chinn was one of the strongest men I ever knew. Bolts and nuts which defied large wrenches just gave up when he pinched them. In his mid-90s, Grandpa was like a weathered old fence post sticking out of prairie sod…bent but still rugged and strong in all kinds of weather.

As he drew near the century mark, Grandpa's waning strength and vitality finally reduced his realm to a twin bed in a nursing home. But, even then, he remained a vital part of family life. Family members — in several generations — spent time with him every day. A deep river of honor flowed right through his room.

The last time I saw him was December 1994 when our family drove from Virginia to spend the Christmas season in Pratt. One afternoon, I picked up a John Deere calendar for 1995 and dropped by his room later that evening to hang it on his wall. Since we were leaving the next morning, I hoped to visit with him a while. But, when I arrived, his lights were out and Grandpa was asleep. In the darkened room, I quietly hung the calendar and silently prayed for this man I so dearly cherished.

And then, he rolled over, looked at me, and began to speak. Despite a debilitating stroke, his voice was strong and clear, "Ed, you have a beautiful wife and children. You are doing a good work. The blessing of God be upon you and your family and your work forever." Then, he turned to the wall and went back to sleep. I stood in stunned silence. Those were the last words I ever heard him speak.

I had always honored him. And, now that honor came pouring back to me. The blessing released on me could not have come from anyone else. He was the patriarch. The man and the moment were supremely important in the transmission of heritage.

I've so often thought of the contrast between how the market economy viewed Maple Chinn and the way God loved — and used — him at almost 100 years old. In the eyes of God, Grandpa's value grew more beautiful and vigorous as he approached the end of his life.

If we accept the natural beauty and appropriateness of all life seasons, we will discover that abounding life never diminishes. It burns bright even as we cross over from this life into the next.

Surely, a part of living in the alternate society of God's people in the earth is to realize that no one is marginalized or devalued because of their age. The vitality given by God serves our family in each unique season of life.

Releasing the Blessing

Naturally, I have learned a great deal from my parents. But, I am amazed to realize how much I learned from my grandparents. I know about gathering eggs, milking a cow, driving a tractor, plowing a field, saddling a horse, hunting with dogs and many other things from my grandparents.

That impartation of heritage continued even my grandparents' eighth and ninth decades. And, now I clearly see the markings of my and Joanne's parents on our children.

Genesis 48 tells the story of Jacob's blessing of his grandsons. When Jacob saw Ephraim and Manasseh (apparently for the first time), he told his son — and their father — Joseph, "Bring them to me and I will bless them." He did not tell Joseph to bless them, but knew the importance of doing it himself — as their grandfather.

It seems that the "elixir" of heritage grows stronger and purer as we age. The accumulated wisdom and familial essence and spiritual estate increase to great potency in the aged. So, when their great and gnarled hands touch the heads of younger people and the Spirit of the Lord animates their vocal chords, something very substantial is passed on.

The shallowness and superficiality of our age has dulled us to this reality.

Surely, the honor of imparting and releasing the mystery of heritage to younger generations is the crown of the abounding life.


Society and Church: Disconnecting Older Persons

Instead of sweeping them away into the little room on the third floor for "Senior Saints" activities, maybe we could honor and celebrate them as true repositories of wisdom.

by Ed Chinn

Free economies are essential to freedom. But, they also carry some negative effects; like the tendency to fragment and isolate basic life functions.

For example, the market economy took the seamless family or farm processes — like gardening, "Grandma's cooking," canning, breast-feeding, even basic health care (families, churches, and even doctors used to pray for the sick) — and broke them into disconnected pieces. Then, it manufactured "improvements" — like infant formula, Eggbeaters, fast food restaurants — and sold them back to the very families and farms which once controlled the whole process.

Wendell Berry says that modern society "is based on a series of radical disconnections between body and soul, husband and wife, marriage and community, community and the earth . . . Together, these disconnections add up to a condition of critical ill health which we suffer in common . . ."

Berry believes that now "our economy is based on this disease. Its aim is to separate us as far as possible from the sources of life (material, social, and spiritual), to put these sources under the control of corporations and specialized professionals, and to sell them back to us at the highest profit.

The same market model has invaded church life.

As soon as a family walks through the front doors of a church building, children, parents, and grandparents are pulled into opposite directions, disconnected locales, and activities "appropriate" to their age and interests. Mirroring the culture, each step and part of church life becomes conformed to the industrialized model — complicated, fragmented and managed by religious "specialists."

Repairing the Breaches

Regardless of when or where they live, God's people have always been charged with the mission of living out heaven on earth. We are to be agents or emissaries of the "home country" among the "earthlings."

That is surely what Peter meant when he commanded Christian believers to "keep your behavior excellent among the gentiles." (I Peter 2:12, NAS). In fact, Eugene Peterson translates that verse in The Message, as "Live an exemplary life among the natives…"

In his day, the prophet Isaiah declared that the people of God are to be "repairers of the breach…" (Isaiah 58:12 NAS). Perhaps it is time for churches to model how to repair the disconnections and breaches in society and live out a better way for the world to see.

A renaissance of honor for the "gray hair" among us might be a good starting place. Instead of sweeping them away into the little room on the third floor for "Senior Saints" activities, maybe we could honor and celebrate them as true repositories of wisdom.

When the Bible and other ancient Christian literature sources refer to elders "sitting in the gates" of the city, it portrays the great accrual of wisdom in those who had been formed by walking with God. Of course, mature societies would cherish those examples and life lessons. So, they sat as judges, magistrates and other officials in helping to direct and grace community life.

Wouldn't it seem natural, appropriate, and smart to find a way to do that in contemporary church life? Doesn't the mandate to repair breaches still apply?

Yes. But, in a youth-obsessed culture which disdains the elderly, too many local churches reflect the same dysfunction. Borrowing the market model, churches have learned to devalue the elderly.

The Fullness of Him Who Fills All

In his letter to the Ephesian Christians, Paul referred to "…the church which is His (Christ's) body, the fullness of Him who fills all…" (Ephesians 1: 22–23). In the same letter, Paul envisioned the "manifold wisdom of God being made known through the church…" (3:10).

So, is it possible that the church could actually serve as an agency, reflecting the panoramic fullness of Christ in the midst of society? Could we radiate — for the whole earth — the resplendent wisdom of God?

What would that look like?

Do you think it might surpass the superficial pop and celebrity culture which now animates so many of our church activities and programs? Is God more creative and profound and abundant than the earthbound patterns which we cut and paste into the church?

The idea of a "redeemed community" animates much of the Bible and Christian history. I love to consider the many features of such a holy radiance on earth.

For example, how would a community of redeemed people relate to music? Would they just copy the latest hits from rock, country, jazz, Broadway, reggae, etc.? Or, would they reach for the musical sounds and patterns which fill heaven?

And, how would children be viewed, nurtured, and brought to maturity? Would their lives be formed into robust and beautiful reflections of the real Christ? Would they just naturally fill up the leadership roles in society like Daniel, Joseph, Esther and other biblical leaders did?

What about the kaleidoscope of community issues: the arts, the poor, funding, health, fatherhood, motherhood, service, relating to the larger community, and leaving a legacy of giving?

Obviously, I don't have the time or the forum for pursuing all the features of community life, but clearly a community of grownups would take all life issues very seriously.

One of the most important issues is how do we integrate the various members and groups of real community?

In short, how do we handle generations?

I've heard pastor and author Ross Parsley speak about the church as a family gathered at the dinner table. It is a joyous, inclusive, engaging, and sometimes messy, sharing of life. Just as a normal family wouldn't send grandparents or children away from the table, perhaps churches should find a way to gather — rather than scatter — the generations.

Perhaps we should create normal, healthy and thriving community life. Life which causes the young to honor the older ones. And, the elders to draw out the best in the children.

Maybe such a sharing and caring community would begin to model abounding life on earth.


Breaking Free of Midlife Boundaries

Too often, we see the church or other Christian environments as the only place we can serve. We forget how much God loves the world.

by Ed Chinn

Daniel and Joseph are great models for representing heaven on earth.

Both men were taken captive and carried away from all that was familiar. They each lived and worked in societies which were alien, even hostile, to their faith. But, that did not stop or slow them. They remained faithful to God and served long and well in the land of their exile.

There is no biblical record that they reacted against the pagan culture in which they lived and led. Both leaders took incredibly redemptive and positive attitudes toward their captors or place of exile. I find it astonishing and instructive that Joseph worked to save Egyptian civilization.

It is a mistake to believe that our environment must be righteous or Christian before we can serve. We are all "aliens and strangers" on earth (1 Peter 2:11). As I wrote earlier, we are agents of another realm, emissaries of heaven. We can discharge that role regardless of the society where we live.

Gathering Up and Giving Back

God is a Giver. Out of His bountiful nature, He scatters. Humans are gatherers. We hoard. But, it does seem to me that as we get older we gradually move closer to, and better reflect, the Lord's nature. Somehow, we learn to scatter.

Most people in midlife reverse the consuming trend and begin to give possessions away — family heirlooms, works of art, books, letters, diaries, collectables, money, etc. We seem to instinctively know that we "can't take it with us." So, we start giving it back into our family, churches, ministries, museums, etc.

I know a retired FBI agent who teaches at a local college, a retired nurse who cares for elderly poor people and a retired journalist who works with children who struggle in school. A dear friend and his wife left all that was familiar and moved halfway around the world in order to serve Muslims.

All of these friends gathered up the gifts and graces and resources which the Lord had invested in them over decades. And, they decided to pour them out, as an offering of gratitude toward the Lord.

One of these friends actually gathered his children and told them he wanted to give away a large chunk of their inheritance. All released and blessed him to do precisely that!

Being Scattered

I will always be grateful for the church and for Christian friends. But, I also wonder if we sometimes take the wrong kind of comfort and security from our enclaves of faith. Can the church become a "bunker," a place where we hide from the unknown? Are we afraid of the "contaminations" of larger society?

Daniel and Joseph (and Jesus) never revealed any fear of the unknown or of contamination. They fully engaged those around them — regardless of who they were or what they believed.

This issue is profoundly relevant to those in midlife. Most have astonishing gifts, skills, talents and experiences which should be shared with others.

But, too often, we see the church or other Christian environments as the only place we can serve. We forget how much God loves the world. He created it and sustains it by His word. Throughout all history, He has relentlessly sent the gifts and skills and graces within His people — like Joseph and Daniel — back out to the larger community and world.

I recall a fine Christian gentleman named Ronald Reagan. He forged past the small confines of service and gave himself to the world (and, he was elected President well past midlife at 69). And, consider so many other Christians who stepped beyond the church and served the larger community. A list would include a very diverse circle of people like Tony Dungy, Paul Harvey, Peter Drucker, Annie Dillard, Robert E. Lee, Dr. Ben Carson, Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Sometimes, the only way we will scatter our gifts and talents is when we're forced to do it. Jesus told His disciples (and, by extension, all who would follow Him) to go into all the earth. But, they clustered in Jerusalem. So, with the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in 70 A. D., they finally dispersed.

Persecution and adversity are just two of the tools in God's workshop. I know many people who were forced by finances, scandal, illness or other adversities out of ministry. When that happened, they discovered larger fields of service outside the church. Several have told me that they thank God for pushing them "out of the church."

Our Historic Opportunity

I think we all stand at a unique point of history. Because of scientific and medical advances, people are remaining healthy and productive into their 80s and beyond. So many of them have acquired and achieved unimaginable things.

Every person reading this article has attained something which would simply blow the circuit boards in some people and organizations. They would love to have you hang around!

Most of us underestimate our value. Somewhere, someone needs what YOU have received from a life of walking with God.

Your gifts and graces carry a beautiful aromatic scent emanating from the Lord's touch.

What will you do with the great treasure you've acquired? Will you consume it or pour it out?

Is it possible that you could be the portal for abounding life to be released into a dark and needy place?


Fearlessly Facing the Final Unknown

I can think of no greater pattern or encouragement for those in midlife. The abounding life continues. It started in heaven, came here for a while and ascends right on into a glorious future.

by Ed Chinn

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet… (John 13:3-5 NASB)

The largest fear in life is of "the unknown." And the largest port-of-entry to the unknown is death.

However, all through our lives, we continuously deal with "micro deaths" — fear of the unknown in many different and smaller scenarios: going off to school for the first time, interacting with the opposite sex, winning a job, losing a job, getting married, becoming parents, enduring childhood illnesses and accidents, hearing bad news from the doctor, etc.

Each of those situations may appear as a long drop down an elevator shaft. But, that is an illusion, birthed by the larger fear of the unknown. And, here is one of life's secrets: each of those fear-inducing dramas is actually the doorway to a larger and better place.

Perfect Environment

For example, in the womb, we enjoyed a perfect, climate-controlled and well-nourished zone of maternal comfort. Then, all of that rejected us. The walls started closing in and we were nearly squeezed to death in the birth canal. Had we been wired for language at that moment, we would have surely cried out in fear of the great unknown.

Then, in an explosion of blood and water, we burst into the infinitely larger place of "real life." Ah, so this is my destiny! Mother's warm nourishment, a family to cater to every possible need and desire, and the emerging sights and sounds that were unknown in the old, dark and very cramped world.

However, after a few short years in this cocoon, Mom and Dad kicked us out of the nest and sent us to school. There we discovered reading, social interaction (girls! boys!) and playground skills and thrills. We could never go back to the way it was; our destiny had taken us beyond the small borders of infancy.

That process continues, of course, on through the various levels of education, courtship, career, family. We keep filling up spaces, being rejected by them and bursting into new realms.

Finally, we come to the end of life on this earth. We have simply outgrown the suffocating constrictions of earthbound life. Of course, our fear of the unknown tries to delay the journey. We want to stay in our earth-womb.

But, no. Just as when we once filled up our mother's womb, our environment is kicking us out . . . again. And, the larger life awaits us.

Continuous Renewal

The disbelief and despair which permeate our culture increases our fear of the unknown. If we listen to those voices, we quickly visualize a continuous decline into being discarded by life.

But, the biblical pattern is exactly the opposite! It reveals a continuous upward and expanding life. Even while our physical bodies wear out, our real self is being continuously renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16).

However, as Christ's pattern confirms, the road to abounding life runs through suffering and humility. Jesus emptied Himself of His own rights, took on the role and form of a servant, and submitted to the indignity of death on a cross.

Incredibly, Jesus did not try to prolong His life on earth. He apparently didn't need to make a great speech marking His transition. You simply do not see Jesus making sure that everyone understood His mission or the truth of His identity. He did not even try to project great drama on His pending death. Instead, you see One who was so confident in the heavenly purpose that He could silently and quite unceremoniously begin washing the feet of His disciples.

What a great example of a graceful exit!

I can think of no greater pattern or encouragement for those in midlife. The abounding life continues. It started in heaven, came here for a while and ascends right on into a glorious future.

We don't "peak" at a young age and then sink further and further into nothingness. Our life just keeps abounding — through humility and suffering — and expanding into ever increasing larger places.

Living a full life throughout our midlife years is best attained through life in Christ. His own pattern — living beyond the illusions of fleshly indulgence and self-promotion – is the best pathway. Listen to Him. Let His words fall into your heart and take on life of their own. If you do that, you'll always find that age is not a disqualifier.

Because of the power of God's word, Abraham and Sarah found possibilities which were far "north of expected." You can too.


Not Ready for the Rocking Chair: A Story

At age 54, Judy Pitt made her first trip to Africa to fulfill a dream to see the continent. Now she's traveling there twice a year to help the people of Kenya.

byFocus on the Family

Do you feel as if God has "put out to pasture" now that you've reached midlife or beyond? Maybe you believe He "can't teach an old dog new tricks" or use you. Unfortunately, there are many older Christians who ascribe to these misconceptions.

In our youth-oriented culture, that's not surprising. But millions of baby boomers are entering "retirement age." They bring with them an immense wealth of talent, experience, knowledge and, yes, energy. Will much of that go to waste?

Not in Judy Pitt's case. She's a boomer who's not ready for any rocking chair.

Sixty-two-year-old Judy has been a real estate broker in Boulder for 30 years. Though she had no missions work experience, her dream for decades had been to travel to Africa. In 2001 she had her first opportunity when she helped her parents move to Botswana. She was not disappointed by the experience and vowed to return to help those in need physically and spiritually.

Kenyan Invitation

The following year, Judy was at a Christian gathering in Boulder and met a man named Shem Okello from Kenya, Her African trip came up in conversation, and Shem asked Judy if she was thinking of going to Kenya. When she said no, he asked her if she would like to go. She was taken by surprise but said yes.

Her trip revealed the urgent need of the people living in Shem's village and the surrounding areas. There is no fresh water, no plumbing or modern sanitation. Food is hard to come by, and typhoid, cholera and malaria are part of everyday life. Children die daily of hunger and disease. Judy says her heart was broken, and certain Bible versesjudyPitt began to haunt her at night:

"The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them"
(Isa. 41:17 NIV).

"All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they barter their treasures for food
to keep themselves alive.
"Look, O LORD, and consider,
for I am despised"
(Lam. 1:11 NIV)

"Because of thirst the infant's tongue
sticks to the roof of its mouth;
the children beg for bread,
but no one gives it to them"
(Lam. 4:4 NIV).

Following violence brought on by disputed political elections in December 2007, more than 1,300 people were killed and more than 300,000 were displaced in the Rift Valley and Western provinces of Kenya. Because of this sin and suffering, she says many Kenyans believe God hates them. Judy says the spiritual needs in this region are just as great as their physical needs. Her biggest goal is to provide a well for fresh water while at the same time providing them the Living Water and spiritual peace and healing. Those words, peace and healing, will be posted just above the doorway of a health center that her ministry is planning for the area.

Beginning in 2003, Judy has been taking small teams of about 20 volunteers to the region twice a year. They have built 18 churches. However, one of her pet peeves is groups that travel to foreign lands, build a church and then just leave. She complains that Kenya also has too many empty church buildings. So once a church is planted, Judy follows up with pastor training. Her teams also provide agricultural training and seeds for planting. Locals receive instruction on how to protect water supplies and midwives learn care for pregnancies and for newborns. Judy says many women are forced to give birth in open fields because this rural area has no health care.

Kazi Yake

In 2008 Judy formed a nonprofit organization for her ministry, Kazi Yake, Swahili for "His Works." Since then her ministry has broadened its scope. In partnership with the Baptist Mission of Kenya and Engineering Ministries International, Kazi Yake has plans for building the St. Clementine and Ruth Medical Clinic in Othoo. This 2-acre site will have a medical facility which includes a room for basic surgery, another for dental work, rooms for mothers in labor and one for post-birth women. HIV education would also be a critical part of the facility. If it's financiallly possible, Judy would like to install large-screen TVs in order to show the Jesus Film. There will also be three small resident buildings for visiting physicians, pastors and other volunteers. And one of Judy's long-dreamed-of wells would be on the premises.

In order to raise awareness — and money — for the ministry, Judy and a group of 11 supporters from Texas will be attempting a six-day trek to the top of 19,000-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro. When she first heard of the proposal, she thought people were asking for her prayers and encouragement. But when one of the other climbers called to discuss the climb, she was informed that she was supposed to go along. After a little hesitation, she decided to give it a try, though only 8-10 percent who begin the hike make it to the top. But knowing Judy's gutsy determination, she just might conquer Kilimanjaro.

Are you feeling ready for the rocking chair, that God has set you aside because He has no more use for you at your age? Then remember Caleb's words as he was getting ready to conquer Hebron, giants and all:

"So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said" (Joshua 14:10-12 NIV)


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