As a pastor in Michigan for the past 25 years, I have always strongly supported the approach to missions that emphasized the teaching, training and disciple-making work of indigenous pastors and teachers who already know the language(s), the churches, the culture and have vital relationships where they live. Thus when Johan Gous cold-called me around the year 2000 and told me about Hope Builders and the work they're doing in Zambia, I immediately invited him to share their ministry with our church so we could get involved.
In 2006, one of our deacons went with Hope Builders to Mozambique to help build houses for widows. After that, Johan began to ask me when I was going to come to Africa myself to experience the wonderful things God was doing through Hope Builders.
Finally in 2012 I believed God was telling me it was time to take Johan up on his offer. So in June 2013 I went to Zambia, did evangelism outreach in Livingston for two weeks, and taught with Pastor Jeff Hawkins at a pastors' conference in Mazabuka. I saw the power of the Holy Spirit change lives and many came to know Christ. But it changed my life as well, and I began to wonder if God was preparing me for the work He wanted me to do after retirement.
That call has been reaffirmed in my heart each year, and also now as I return to Zambia for the fifth time. I have become a part of the Hope Builders' team. I have built wonderful relationships with many pastors all over that country as the Lord blesses and the work increases. I look forward to being used by Him however, wherever and whenever He wants me. I'm not really retired; I've just transitioned into a new call for which God has long been preparing me: to train pastors in Zambia -- and they are eager to become disciple-makers for Jesus Christ.