In the years since Jean and I became Christians in 1951, we have known scores of Missionaries. Some of them we knew (or know) “up close”; others as part of our church’s support team; still others by reputation.
By just mentioning the word “Missionary”, a flood of memories rushes in. My problem now is to not forget those who come to mind, before I can mention them here.
A brief definition of a missionary described by “Wikipedia” states:
“A missionary is one who is a member of a religion who works to convert those who do not share the missionary’s faith…..”
Pretty basic, right?
Christian missionaries, then feel "called of God”, to share their faith in Christ, with whomever they can, or come in contact with. Some go to a foreign country, and some stay right near home. In reality, those of us who “belong to Christ”, should share the message of Christ with anyone available. Not every christian is “ordained” formally, but all are “called” to “give a reason for the hope that lies within us.”
Having said that, I want to make it clear that in this post, I want to emphasize the “full-time missionary”, whose “full-time job” is sharing Christ.
I’m trying to remember the name of the first missionary to a foreign land that we knew, who took his family to Brazil 60+ years ago, and “evangelized” by using a boat on the Amazon River. I now remember that they were stationed at Belem, Brazil. (You might guess that I’m “stalling”, trying to remember their names.) They were “supported” by our local church, and when on furlough, visited us and told of their ministry. Actually, I’m also trying to come up with the name of one of the former members of that church, who might remind me of the name. Sadly, most of those folk who MIGHT help me, are now gone. I did just now find one of the “young people” of that day - Doris Bess. And though - like me - she remembers the family, but can’t yet come up with the name. Probably not important to have the actual name.
The next one who comes to mind is a maiden lady from Chicago, who, just out of High School and some training, went to India as a missionary. Before I forget it, I’d better quickly mention that her name was Victoria Christenson.
When we met her, she had just returned home for the last time, after 45 years in India. She was a soft-spoken Swedish lady, who had a lifetime “heart” for those un-saved in India.
We were “struck” by the story she told of God’s Provision during that time.
(Just now, the first name of the Missionary to Brazil came to mind - George - followed in 3 minutes by Norton - his last name. Doris confirms the last name, but is not sure about the first.)
Victoria said that at age 19, when she was just ready to leave for India, a long time friend and his wife told her that they would be praying for her, and that they wanted to provide something for her to take with her.
The man then gave her a sealed envelope, and told her that she was not to open it, UNTIL she became discouraged, and felt she couldn’t go on. She mentioned that she always kept that envelope with her, and frequently wondered if this were the time to open it. Each time, she resisted the temptation, trusting God to Provide.
Now - after 45 years - she reached in her purse and showed us an old envelope - tattered from being carried around - that was STILL sealed, having NEVER been opened. She said, “God’s Grace and Provision” are sufficient. She then vowed NEVER to open it.
After these two missionary families, I'd now like to discuss the missionaries that have been my friends for 44 years - Ken and Karen Anderson.
Both of them are graduates of Moody Bible Institute - he from the Missionary Radio Course, she from the General Bible Course.
They met at Moody, and upon Ken’s graduation in 1963, he came to WEEC and became the FIRST overnight announcer there. A month later they were married. Karen worked in the office. Six months later, Ken became the station’s Chief Engineer - the type of work he was trained for at MBI. In addition to other duties, after I arrived in 1965, Karen typed my letters.
Ken kept WEEC going - technically - until 1969 when the Lord called them to serve in Sao Paulo, Brazil with the newly formed Brazilian Evangelistic Association mission. The Board of WEEC voted to send them partial support for their evangelistic work in Brazil.
The bulk of their work involved audio recordings, as well as Christian movies, in Portuguese, the local language. In this way, evangelizing for Christ.
I could list many of the different ministries and successes of BEA, but my emphasis now is upon Ken and Karen, rather than their ministry.
In all of these years of knowing them, as well as scores of other missionaries, I’m struck by the utter “blind” faith of these two - and eventually, their whole family. Other missionaries, as well as some “ordinary” Christians, exhibit this “faith” tendency too, but the ones I know about are Ken and Karen.
Those close to missions and missionaries, know that the regular financial support of missions is “sporadic”, to say the least. They go to the “field” with a certain level of support promised, only to find that not all of the “promised” support materializes - at least not for the whole term. There’s always a need for more support.
An additional problem for them is the changing currency locally - as related to the “dollar”. The “exchange rate” fluctuates regularly, and one never knows what funds to expect.
In spite of this “fluctuation”, and some “slipping” support from home, THEY HAVE BEEN PROVIDED FOR. And God, through their faith in Him, has provided what is needed.
In some of their projects, they have need of “extra” funds - not expected. They have notified their supporters, and they came through. Ken and Karen EXPECT God to supply!
They have two sons born before going to Brazil, and one who was born in Brazil - having “dual” nationality.
The older two live in Ohio, and the youngest one returned to Brazil as a missionary with BEA - and found a wife in Sao Paulo.
They now have 12 grandchildren - all of whom have experienced God’s Provision - just like Mom and Dad.
Though now stationed at Tampa FL - the Home Office of the mission they have been “lent” to - Bible Basics International - Ken has made several mission trips to Honduras (where they both served for several years also), as well as Bolivia, where Ken has helped with technical support for a Missionary Radio station there. Much of this after they have reached retirement age.
All of these trips are financed by promised gifts of their friends and some churches, and they don’t hesitate to commit to the field trips BEFORE they have the slightest idea where the funds will come from.
They could cite several instances of the “Provision of God”, but rather than specifics, I want to generally Praise God for His Provision for them, and commend them for their “great faith”.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to His Riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19
(Note: When in First Draft form I shared this with Ken and Karen, for them to correct any facts I “posited” [inside joke], they said, “Thanks for being so kind in your comments about us, and for giving God the glory. It is all due Him!”)
Praise the Lord for His Faithfulness!
Here are Ken and Karen, along with Karen's mother - Gladys Neis - who just passed away at age 99.