Two young people were married in 1980. Both received a Christian education from a college known as the “School of the Light” in the Philippines.
Worries about what Christian education would bring them after marriage were not even entertained by this couple.
Early in their marriage, the wife received a call to serve as an office secretary in the same college they had graduated from.
A week later a nearby high school, operated by a dedicated Seventh-day Adventist family, needed a Bible instructor. When the husband was offered the job he readily accepted.
For almost two years the couple was kept busy, heartily working in two different places and only seeing each other three times a week.
A Very Close Family of Four
A year after marriage the first child was born to them and the second four years later. Now they were not only husband and wife but also father and mother.
Parents at last! Soon they realized that the college campus was just the right place for them to rear their growing girls.
Earlier, before the second child was born, the father had been employed by the college as Dean of Men.
Fortunately, their time of separation had not lasted long. Both parents now worked in one place where they could be close to their energetic and playful children.
Growing up in a cool, unpolluted environment was not only a God-given gift to the children but a comforting and elating thought to the parents.
The church was just a few steps away making their attendance every Sabbath so easy.
Education was just at the tip of their fingers—from elementary until a college diploma could be achieved.
All the family thought that their togetherness would last until the children’s college education was over.
For over twenty years this family has been closely knitted together. They talk and laugh together around the lunch table, in the bedroom, in the car when traveling, and around the altar of worship.
So little—a family of four—but staying so close to each other!
When the eldest daughter was a junior nursing student in college and the youngest daughter was five months from high school graduation, a call came from the General Conference asking the family to go as missionaries to Ethiopia, Africa.
Mixed feelings filled their hearts. Dozens of questions kept crossing their minds?
“Where will I go?” “With whom will I stay?” “What about my up-coming graduation?”
“What about my college education—I’m in my clinical internship?” “What about my circle of friends?”
Questions of this sort are not only confusing for parents, but heart-breaking, as well.
This family had numerous answers to prayer before. So they started to bring this situation to God in family and private prayer.
Of course, there was not a thought of turning down the missionary call. The family understood this was a call from God.
Packing to Depart
Preparations began. Destinations were determined. The family members knew that they would be separated—living in three different countries of the world.
The dream of togetherness until after college education now came to an end. They had to leave the comfort of their beautiful Mountain View campus, their home in the truest sense of the word.
The eldest daughter had to accept staying in the Philippines to finish her college education. The youngest daughter had to attend Maxwell Adventist Academy in Kenya.
The parents had to proceed to Ethiopia Adventist College, he to serve as chairperson and professor in the Theology Department and she to serve as professor in the Management Department.
The day of departure dawned and all four of them bade farewell. Their small number gradually reduced as they left family members in one place and then another.
After two days they finally settled into three places separated by thousands of miles of both land and sea.
The pang of separation plagued each heart. Lonely, empty feelings visited them again and again.
They all needed comfort and consolation, but from whom?
The Lighted Spirit of Three Women and a Man
In Matthew 27:46, Jesus cried out with tears in His voice saying, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
From the standpoint of a human being these words burst from His lips—not due to the pain of His work or His sacrifice, but due to the pang of separation that sin caused between Him and His Father.
Christ was the Missionary sent from above because of what sin has wrought on the whole human race.
The prayer of Jesus for His disciples in His prayer for all missionaries throughout the world, including this family.
This is the very source of their comfort and consolation.
Jesus says, “Sanctify them in the truth, Thy world is truth. As thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sake I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:17-19.
These words come to missionary hearts as healing balm.
Words that are so personal to this family are found in verse 22. “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them; that they may be one, just as We are one.”
Every word in this verse comes like a hand that soothes their burdened back with words of assurance and comfort.
Distance separates them as a family because Jesus has made them missionaries but, the prayers of each of them ascends in unison to the merciful throne of the greatest Missionary the world has ever had.
This certainty has made the spirit of the three women in the family stronger every day—the father’s heart, too!
By Nemuel Mortel, DPTh