He was a quiet man—bowed and slowed by age and illness—but a fixture at the church I grew up in. He would sit in the same pew with his wife every Sabbath. His name was David Maywald and he passed away recently at the age of 96. To me, he was Mr Maywald or one half of the Maywalds, on account of him never being separate from his wife Ruth. The Maywalds’ old, white VW Beetle was one of the first cars in the car park every Sabbath.
We need people who push us forward and we need those who call us back . . . We need all types, especially the faithful ones.
What I didn’t know about him was the amazing life he had led.
He kept every Sabbath as a medic during World War II for three and-a-half years. Called to serve his country in Papua New Guinea, he also refused to bear arms and swapped his beer rations for other items. He built the church I grew up in and attended it loyally every Sabbath until he no longer could. On his return from the war, he resumed his work at Sanitarium, where he spent the next 37 years until his retirement.
To me, his life demonstrates faithfulness—a quality that is all too rare in this material age. The spirit of the age is consumerism—having the best, the latest and greatest is a must. This outlook and attitude extends to each area of our lives, from fashion to gadgets, from our workplaces to our homes and even to our churches. We are quick to discard and upgrade. But this is not a rant against materialism. Rather it is an affirmation of commitment.
There are people in all of our churches who have committed their lives to the Church. They have done amazing things and stood up for their faith in trying situations and times. They are the church members you see, week after week, year after year. Many of them are older; some of them are unremarkable except for their faithfulness.
It’s easy these days, particularly for those who live in urban areas where there are a number of Adventist churches nearby, to attend different churches each week, to go where the programs are best. It’s harder to support and be involved in your local church and community, especially if there are difficult people there or things aren’t run exactly in the way you want them to be.
Persevere. God is faithful to us through thick and thin. He never wavers. Yet we treat Him like an eternal vending machine. We want Him on our terms, never making us uncomfortable, even down to which churches we prefer to attend.
Sometimes the faithful find change hard and stick doggedly to tradition. That’s OK. We need people who push us forward and we need those who call us back. That’s the beauty of a multi-generational, multi-ethnic faith like Seventh-day Adventism. We need all types, especially the faithful ones.
I encourage you to approach someone at church who is not in your age bracket and find out a bit more about them. Maybe they have an amazing testimony of how they became an Adventist or how they held onto their faith under fire. Maybe they built the church you worship in or five in another country. Maybe you’ll be surprised.
We don’t always know what treasures are hidden in our own churches and sometimes we find out too late. Let us celebrate faithfulness, celebrate our elders and celebrate the God-given opportunity we’ve been blessed with to belong to this movement.
Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of Adventist Record.