“So, when do you plan to retire Jack?” somebody texted me last week when Jo and I were celebrating my 82nd birthday by ourselves at home. Hmm, a provocative question. I thought about it for a while.
I started earning a wage as an electrician’s helper when I was 13 years old. In the past 69 years I have been employed by more than a dozen different organizations and businesses. Some notable occupations: mental institute orderly, pastor, linguist, Bible translator, CEO of Wycliffe organization, fundraiser, motivational speaker.
The Answer . . . Sort of
I have “retired” from all these jobs and positions, and for the past few years I’ve focused on a career in writing and publishing five books of God-stories, the first volume of my memoirs and am working on the next two volumes. After that, if God grants me physical and mental health for a few more years, I want to complete the half-finished children’s stories books on my computer and in my head.
The Angelic Visit Twenty Years Ago
“Jack,” my supervisor said, “as the new CEO of Wycliffe Caribbean, the first problem you need to tackle is the accounting system. It’s a mess.”
I’m the WordMan, I thought, not the NumberMan. Sending me to fix a finance accounting system is as helpful as sending a firefighter to aim his spouting hose at a drowning man.
The bookkeeper explained that Caribbean countries use a British system of accounting, but Wycliffe uses the North American system. No wonder things got confused!
I explained the problem to Wycliffe International’s VP of Finance, asked for help and got it.
A few weeks later a retired couple arrived from Great Britain. They were experienced accountants familiar with both British and American accounting systems and started work immediately. In a couple of weeks, they had solved the problems, revised our procedures, written a new manual, and trained our staff in the updated system. Then they left to enjoy a week on the beach before returning home – job well done. Not even angels could have done it better. Maybe they were.
Oh, how I appreciated those volunteers! We happily provided hospitality and meals. They radiated good will and oozed expertise. Like God the Creator, they turned our chaos into order.
This couple was neither the first nor the last of many highly effective retired people who practiced their skills on the mission field. I asked some of these folk why they volunteered. Here are their answers:
- I hope God gives me many years of healthy retirement since I just love helping missionaries use their computers more effectively.
- In our retirement, we want to focus on what is important in our lives. So, we spend lots of quality time with our grand kids, but we also volunteer where we can use our experience in printing and publishing to help build God’s kingdom.
- Since I enjoyed certain aspects of my career more than others, I look for opportunities to volunteer my services in God’s service in missions in the areas I enjoy the most.
- My wife and I volunteer on the mission fields where we can use our chiropractic skills to improve people’s lives, but work at our own pace and on our own time schedule. We usually include a time of vacation after our volunteer service.
- I have always loved being a businessman. Now I love consulting on site with people who have gone overseas to start a business that meets physical, economic and spiritual needs.
- During my career as a medical teacher I missed the hands-on service to people in medical need. Now that I’m retired, I focus on volunteering where I can directly meet the needs of individuals and show my love to them as I build God’s Kingdom.
- I’m now 85 years old. I look on the two years in our late seventies that my wife and I spent overseas helping Bible translators become more effective as the greatest two years of my life.
Every year, hundreds of retired people volunteer to go overseas to practice their professions and skilled trades to build God’s Kingdom. Wycliffe offers numerous opportunities for volunteers to get involved. Check them out on these sites and, when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, volunteer to serve somewhere:
“The godly will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green.” Psalm 92:14 (NIV).