As much as he loved the mission field, Paul was looking forward to sharing the blessings that God had wrought in the ministry over that past four years. It would be a physically tiring year with all of the traveling especially since he and his wife were getting older. They were eager to see their children and grandchildren. In all the preparation and planning, neither were prepared for the life changing events that would take place in the coming months. However, God was in control, and He promised never to leave us or forsake us.
Paul wasn’t sure whether he did not hear his daughter correctly or whether he refused to believe what she was telling him. He had said goodby to his dear wife yesterday morning as he headed out to visit supporting Churches in the nearby cities. Much to her delight, he suggested that she remain home to spend more time with the family. And now, now he was being told that she had a massive stroke and was in the Intensive Care Unit at the Local Hospital. After making his apologies he headed home, praying for a miracle that God would spare his beloved co-laborer in the Lord. Hours passed into days, and there was no evidence that God was going to perform a miracle. It was decided to lay a fleece before the Lord. If no brain activity was apparent by the time their son arrived in the states, then they would remove the life support an let her go home to be with the Lord.
The support and love that Paul and his family received from the Brethren was a soothing balm to their wounded hearts. Cards and condolences from all over the United States and the mission field came pouring in. It would indeed be difficult to respond to every one, but they would make the effort to do so. Then came the second phone call.
The Mission Board had requested to have a meeting with Paul. He was ready to get back to the business of visiting his supporting churches and was somewhat disappointed that he had to cancel some meetings in oder to meet with the Board. Once again, Paul was in the situation that he was not sure he was hearing what he was being told or just refused to believe what they were telling him. Apparently the Mission Board felt that the would be a problem of him serving in his current ministry as a single man. Paul was devastated. What was he to do? Was God not wanting him to be a Missionary any more? So many thoughts pelted his mind. An intense struggle welled up inside of him as he tried to make sense of the changes in his life recently; losing his beloved wife and now, being told he can no longer be a Missionary. What to do? What to do?
There was only one thing Paul could; so he got alone with the Lord for several days, poured out his heart to his Savior and pleaded for wisdom and guidance. He knew that if he was to remain a Missionary that he would need to find a wife! His prayer was that if the Lord wanted him to continue in his present mission work that He would provide a wife for him.
Paul shared his desire with the Mission Board and they agreed to allow him to finish visiting the supporting churches. It was understood that if at the end of the year the Lord had not provided him with a wife, that he would tender his resignation.
The months were going too quickly and Paul was beginning to have anxious thoughts. He needed to submit to the fact that perhaps the Lord was closing the door on his missionary work. There were but three more churches to visit before reporting back to the Mission Board. He was finally able to say with all honesty, “Not my will, Lord, but Thine”.
At his next meeting he had decided to share his testimony concerning returning to the mission field. The evening before he had dinner with the Pastor and some folk from the Church. It was a delicious meal, especiallyl the desert, which was prepared by Lydia, a widow from the church. It just happened to be Paul’s favorite.
The next morning during the service, Paul shared the entire story of his pleading with the Lord in regards to his continuation in the ministry. It was a stirring message, one that brought one young man to his knees in surrendering to the Mission call. Afterward, Paul greeted the brethren at a luncheon, prepared in his honor. The fellowship was great and Paul felt in no hurry to leave. He enjoyed talking with the young man who had surrender to the Mission call. When he finally decided to leave he was approached by Lydia whom he recognized from the night before. After sharing with her that the desert she made was his favorite she replied by saying, “I have another surprise for you” I am willing to help you return to the mission field.
Paul and Lydia have been serving the Lord on the Mission field for over ten years. Their love for the Lord and for the people has borne a love between them that only God can create.