Because 77 is a double number, I decided to check out what God did in my life the other six years when I had a double number birthday.
Age 11: When I was 11 years old, God led my papa and mama to make a sudden decision to emigrate from Holland to Canada. We did so the following year. It was the start of a completely new life, socially, linguistically, and above all spiritually. It was in Canada that God led our family to attend our first ever evangelistic meeting, and I came to know Jesus as Saviour and Boss of my life. Eventual all our family came to Christ
Age 22: God led me to return to Bible college after I was expelled for a semester, (for just causes, long story!) I graduated a year after my class. God also led me to enroll in a radio announcers’ speech course to improve my pronunciation and public speaking ability. That same year God was also focusing my mind on a girl named Jo. Almost every page of my diary during that year mentions Jo, a letter from Jo, a date with Jo, being lonely for Jo, etc. No wonder we got engaged the following year!
Age 33: God led Jo and me to return to Canada for an early furlough to cast vision to our financial partners to raise the money needed to build a simple house on the mission’s centre in Belem, Brazil. He also moved my Dad and Mom to come and build it with us. Both our family and our Bible translation ministry flourished during the twenty years we lived in this house.
Age 44: I suffered a deep depression, as did Jo, because of intense opposition from elements in the Brazilian government who were against Bible translation work among Brazil’s indigenous people. They expelled all translators from the villages where we worked. I was so discouraged with God’s inaction, I gave up my faith in God. God did not, however, give up on me. He brought into my life a godly pastor who loved me and counselled me weekly for six months. After all his prayers and counsel, I turned back to God, received his forgiveness, and we returned to Brazil where God allowed us to complete the Canela translation project.
Age 55: God led Jo and me to participate in our first ever Marriage Enrichment Seminar. After thirty years of marriage, living far from pastors and counselors, we needed this help. Our marriage improved immensely which turned out to be extremely important since we were both about to enter some very rough waters. But God preserved our marriage in spite of years of heavy leadership responsibilities, much travel and long periods of separation.
Age 66: God put me back into a public speaking ministry. That year I traveled to dozens of cities to speak in churches, conferences, at banquets and other events casting vision for Bible translation, and to recruit workers and raise funds. That year was the first one of ten consecutive years of speaking at a total of 600 events. That same year, God also led the Wycliffe leadership to ask me to publish the writings I had been putting on my blog. They published my first book which led to eventually publishing three printed books and two ebooks.
Age 77: So what is God going to lead me into this year? I can hardly wait to see! It might be the writing of my autobiography. Friends are already making suggestions for a title, like, “You Don’t Know Jack!” I lean towards, “The Life of Jack: Stories That Make God Look Good.”
God is good, all the time. I’ll report on what He did this 77th year on my 88th birthday.