Chapter 25: Reflections of My First Eighty Years

Reflections of My First Eighty Years
In recent years, we continue to participate in the work of the church, serving as an elder and as moderator of the church, occasionally as pulpit supply and teaching as God gives the opportunity. He has given us a rich and satisfying life. It has been a varied life, in that we have gone from farming to school, from school to pastorate, and from pastorate to teaching. Now, finally, in retirement, we do what we can to help along in His work.
Glimpses of the Family Album

In all of this Kathryn was a very definite and important partner and supporter throughout the years. Not only did she support each ministry, she was a valued counselor to me in all the places where we served. She had good insight into needs and gave me much practical advice in many specific situations. She worked also with children and with ladies’ groups in different churches, never assuming the top leadership role among women. She left that so other people could use their gifts and their abilities of leadership. She also contributed extensively as a gracious hostess to traveling missionaries and evangelists, who generally stayed in homes in those days. She also made it a practice to invite the people who were on the outer periphery of the church. For her own fulfillment and to be productive, she used her gift of salesmanship in various places where we served. She was involved in direct selling, first of Stanley Home Products, then Avon Products, and Tupperware; in all of this she received a number of achievements awards. During our service in churches, she always sought to build up the ministry, inviting and sharing Christ with many of her contacts.

Our sons are successful in their own chosen fields. Jim has been in the petroleum industry for a good many years, first with the Texaco Oil Company, and recently, with the USA Petroleum Company, serving as Vice President of Marketing. His wife, Judy, is a controller in a construction company in Westlake Village, California.

Jim has two children, Sharon and Bryan. Both of them graduated from Western Christian High School in West Covina. Sharon is now married to Robert Grapes, special education teacher in a junior high school. They have two children: a daughter, Megan, who is proud to be in the third grade and attending the same school where her Mommy went. Their son, Douglas is a happy four-year-old at home. Sharon works in an insurance business and is advancing very well, having received a number of promotions. Brian graduated from California Polytechnic University in Pomona, June, 1993, with a degree in Physical Education and is presently working in physical therapy. He was married on November 6, 1993, to his wife Belinda, who is a physical therapist.

Our younger son, Paul, is a physician specializing in pulmonary diseases. He has a large practice in Ventura County. His wife, Annette, is a former high school teacher in foreign languages: Spanish and German. Together they are very active in the Calvary Community of Westlake Village, California. Annette works a great deal with the women’s ministry, while Paul serves as an elder.

Their three children are Christine, Karin, and Daniel. Christine, the oldest, graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 1993 with a B.A. degree in music.  In June, 1993, she married Brian Anderson, a high school teacher in science and math. Christine is teaching private lessons in piano and voice. Both are involved in church music ministry. Karin graduated in May, 1995, with a B.A. degree and has been accepted at Azusa Pacific University Graduate School to pursue a Master of Arts degree in College Student Affairs. Daniel is an enthusiastic freshman at Westlake High School, playing in band and participating in Boy Scouts and in many activities wherever he has opportunity. He is active in track, and does well in all his endeavors.
The Lord, Our Provider

God’s providence has been very evident in our lives. From the natural point of view I should have died when I was six months of age, when my brothers and sisters died. I might have stayed in Russia, as all my early schoolmates did, but God, in his wonderful providence, brought me to America.

The natural course of events would have been for us to stay on the farm, because Kathryn and I both came from farm families, and spend our life practicing the arts of agriculture. We thought we wanted to, yet God kept on nudging me on towards the ministry, particularly in ministry to the needs of migrant people.

He has provided an opportunity to us for an education, even at a later age in life, and has granted us a fulfilling ministry. Philippians 1:6 became a pillar, a rock upon which I could stand. It reads: "Being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." I claimed this verse for myself early in my Christian life, having been very much afraid that I might not be able to stay the course, or live a good Christian life. I was confident that God was going to keep me, both in his path and in the ministry, for I was assured that it He who called me to the ministry. He was the one who had begun the good work in me. It was for me to continue in confidence that His strength would carry me. This was at many different times a  solid place to stand, not to depend upon my own ability but upon God’s blessing.

Our church conference did not have a retirement program for pastors until just a few years before my retirement. I, of course subscribed to it as soon as it was available. The conference paid some of the cost for those of us above fifty-five years of age. The proposal was that all should start with at least $50 per month of retirement. I started off a little better than that, with $72. We started thinking that our retirement would be insufficient with just the social security and, of course, we’d get a little from the farm.

So we started a modest investment program by buying a house, then another, and several more, as rental property. Upon the advice of Charles Stine, one of the deacons in our church, I prepared for and passed the California State Real Estate examination at age 64. I obtained a Real Estate license and have, through the years, been able to help some people find homes for themselves and a few to dispose of homes. I have never been
aggressive in real estate, but I have always helped those who wanted to have someone help them. Then I became very aggressive in following through. So it has been a satisfying experience in so-called retirement.

Our modest investment of several single-family homes, as a result of years of inflation, has increased in value. Therefore, the income has increased so that we now have a comfortable retirement, for which we thank God.
Serving Christ: Its Own Reward

I was glad that I recognized early in life that success does not depend upon our effort, nor upon our ability, but upon God, who has begun the good work, and upon His ability to keep us. I have found great fulfillment in the gospel ministry, particularly in the pastorate, where I have been glad to give hope to the hopeless, to encourage the discouraged, to strengthen those who need strength, to instruct those who need instruction, to be joyous with those who are joyous, and to weep with those who are weeping. This has been a great satisfaction, and a fulfilling life. I do not know of anything better.

Not only has the life of a pastor been satisfying, but also, after resigning from the pastorate, I was able to teach at Simpson College, Sacramento, an extension of Simpson College in San Francisco. I enjoyed teaching there. I noticed early on that even though I occasionally felt somewhat tired when I went to class, since all classes were held in the evenings, on the way home I found myself singing or whistling. It is a tremendous satisfaction and very fulfilling to teach young people to prepare for life and service to God, in whatever direction God leads them. This was my privilege for 12 years.

After the first year of teaching, I was asked to assume the responsibility for the administration of the extension unit. This was a part-time position. So, for ten years, I was able to lead that group, as well as teach theology classes and select faculty to teach other classes. I taught until age 75, and then I told the students that I did not think it was fair for me to teach any longer, because they needed a younger man who was more at home in the contemporary education scene. However, they kept telling me that they wanted me to stay because of my years of experience. But I felt compelled to draw the line at 75.

I said, "This is enough, you need a younger man," and I resigned. I was pleased that the administration of Simpson College in San Francisco saw fit to award me a Meritorious Service Award—a taste of genuine appreciation.

In evaluating how successful one has been, one can be totally content to leave this in the hands of God, for He says in His word, in I Corinthians, Chapter 4: "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful."

How faithful we have been is for to God to judge. He is the righteous and just judge. I will be glad to stand before Him and receive what he has to say. But prior to that, I rejoice in the internal satisfaction that has been, and is, mine.

God has continued to bless us and is still giving us opportunities for service. We will continue to follow him through whatever doors He opens until the day that Jesus takes us home to be with Him. Because of his wonderful grace, we are who we are, and we praise His Name.

We praise the Lord for all of His blessings. It is He who has satisfied the desires of our heart, and it is He who has rewarded us with good things. We are looking toward our completion according to His word. "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" Philippians 1:6

* Indication that additional verbiage between these items from the Manifesto of the Empress Catharine II was not quoted.

* Indicates that additional verbiage between these items from an Imperial Rescript Issued by Czar Paul I was not quoted.

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