A few days ago I pulled this out of the dish cupboard where we keep the song sheets for mealtime.
It brings back a lot of memories!
“I’M AN OMF KID” SONG BOOK
The title began with a shirt that a colleague ordered for the all the kids… That was followed by a long series of shirts designed by my husband at my request for field conferences.
But the impulse behind it was probably born out of all the old China Inland Mission biographies I read in my teens. In these books I saw not just individuals but families –sometimes very extended families - serving God. Siblings. Children. Grandchildren. Cousins. All sorts of family webs bound together in a common cause.
This was appealing.
I wanted to be part of it. But the CIM had undergone a great change and I didn’t recognize it at first in its new incarnation as OMF.
However, as I read the East Asia Millions month by month and attended prayer conferences and prayer meetings I began to recognize the old familiar principles.
We joined. (I found someone drawn to the same cause!)
And then we waited. And waited.
And while we waited we spent a lot of time at 1058 Avenue Road where the Toronto Office was situated.
After our baby was born we settled in North York for awhile and attended the Prayer Meeting at 1058 every Thursday night. How I loved all the “China Hands” – retirees who had served in China. These were the people I recognized! Many of them were already in their 80s but how they could pray!
And how they loved my baby!
With Herbert Rowe after the Dedication Service
We asked one of our favorites to perform the dedication. Dear old Mr. Rowe. Such an Englishman! So very old school!
Childless himself, he challenged us with searching questions:
Believing that this child is a gift from God, and that He shall hold you accountable for him, do you solemnly confess that it is your purpose to dedicate him to the Lord and to His service?
Will you pray with him and for him, instruct him faithfully in the doctrines of the Christian religion, teach him to read the Word of God, to pray, and to lead a holy life; take him faithfully to the House of God to attend its services; and do all that in you lies to bring him to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord?
These questions pierced our souls. I pinned them in my cookbook and came back to them again and again.
I wondered how we would do that with all the separations common to missionary families at the time.
And then came “the book” that changed the course of our lives.
Around this time there was an overhaul of the archives going on at 1058 and this scrapbook – with photos of all the British and North American candidates from circa 1953 to circa 1964 – caught my attention as it hit the toss pile.
I claimed it. And I made it my business to find out who everyone was and, more importantly, what happened to them. After all, wasn’t what happened to them likely to happen to us?
The answers were often discouraging!
I came to some conclusions:
A lot of people don’t make it.
We want to make it to the end!
The status quo for children isn’t working.
There must be another way!
And that is why in 1983 we quietly sent our son to the local elementary school. This was definitely not a status quo decision. But it is one we have never regretted.
To say there were a lot hard times would be putting it mildly. But again and again we went back to dear Mr. Rowe’s challenge. Here was something more important than excelling at sports or academics or social conformity to one’s home country.
We wanted to be joined with our children in a common cause – an eternal cause. And that became our measure… how does this decision we are weighing look in the light of eternity?
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
We have a friend who sings these words with his two small daughters every day. We didn’t sing them but we tried to live them.
Stumbling as we went. We were like an airplane - never quite on track but always honing back in on its destination. Looking at Jesus.
And 40 years later we are still here. Now a little battle worn but very, very happy.
And our children? We gave them a heritage.
A secure fortress. A refuge.
But best of all, they have the fountain of life.
Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.