Although she would have easily been in her 90s, you wouldn’t call her frail. She was steady and light on her bare feet, with a sparkle in her eyes reflecting an active and clear mind. She eagerly grabbed my hand and looked into my face. Her eyes misted over as she chatted to me. The Pidgin was too fast and too new for me to pick up the whole conversation, but I couldn’t miss the message.
She too had known, loved and respected my grandparents. Suddenly I was transported back to Nana’s knee, where stories of headhunters, crocodiles, spears and bush huts blended with morals of an all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing, living Saviour. Where there was no internet to contact family, no phones, cars, medical insurance or short service times. When dedicated people were dropped by boat to a village with a bag of belongings each, some wood to build a shelter and a heart full of God’s love. These people were simply spiritual giants in the cause of the King.
Oh how my heart wants to burst with pride as we visit Seventh-day Adventist villages and see miniature graves that mark the end of missionary children’s lives, or those of adults cut down in the prime of their life while in service to their Lord. The cost was huge, but they gave and gave and gave. These were the battles that Satan temporarily won; how many millions did he lose? How many miracles saw lives spared, storms quietened and nature responding in an unexpected way? We won’t know this side of the kingdom—but I have a feeling the number will astound us.
I write because I want you to remember those days gone by; because your brothers and sisters in the Pacific do. If you’re reading this in Australia or New Zealand, I need you to be aware that there is so much more beyond your comfortable pews. The church is busy. Its people are busy. Maybe not in your congregation (although I pray it is), but out there where the rubber hits the dirt road. Lives are being snatched from the fire every day. The ripple effect from those early pioneers is still moving and if you are a relative of one who gave—please know that every tear, drop of blood and sweat was worth it.
Both my husband and I are walking in the footsteps of missionary grandparents. Both grandfathers were presidents for our Church in the Solomon Islands, and both families have been involved in mission work for many years besides; in Papua New Guinea and beyond. What an honour. The spirit of missionary work has not died with these dear people.
All around the world there are those involved in mission service. New friends who we lean on and in turn encourage on a weekly basis. They have left their homes, friends and families to go to an area they feel called to, and I thank “The Mission Institute“ for introducing me to some of these precious families. But mission service need not be overseas. To be a missionary is simply to “be called“. It means sacrifice, dependence on God and a willingness to shout out the truth in a place that often shouts back obscenities. Sometimes I think being a missionary in the Pacific Islands seems easier. They seem to respond to a generous heart and a message of love. A visit in the hospital sees lives turn around. A helping hand in the time of financial hardship sees whole families sitting in church the next Sabbath. A mission program struggles to find seats for thousands who will attend. Baptisms are weekly and emotional with many coming forward with each call for new candidates. Church membership is more than 533,000 and rapidly growing. The churches are vibrant and worship inspiring.
Does this sound like your church? If not, you are officially called to be a missionary. Called to get out of your boat and walk on water. Called to testify, visit, pray, speak up, befriend, reach out, reach up and revisit the spirit of our pioneering forefathers. Give like they gave. Pray like they prayed and watch as God does what He did . . . and is still doing.
“I was shown that God would accomplish a great work through the truth if devoted, self-sacrificing [people] would give themselves unreservedly to the work of presenting it to those in darkness. . . In working in harmony with Christ and the holy angels we shall experience a joy that cannot be realised aside from this work” (3T 202, 383).
Carol Boehm is South Pacific Division mission service and support manager. If you have a burden to serve—contact her!