Here we are today at Avondale College – a group of old missionaries who have served in the Pacific Islands and Africa. These special people represent some hundreds of years of collective ministry in Papua New Guinea, West Irian Jaya, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Kenya, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.
Many of them home-schooled their own children in remote places where they rarely saw another person like themselves. Some of the women spent lonely hours and weeks waiting for their husband to come home. Others delivered babies in inadequate hospitals far away from those they loved. Some of the men spent days traipsing through jungle and forest in the rain and heat determined to share the Gospel message they were compelled to tell. At least two or three of these men built hospitals, schools and churches throughout the Pacific with dedication and determination, often using inadequate tools and equipment. Some were shot at, speared or robbed, experiencing terror and hoping to stay alive. One survived a devastating plane crash in which others were killed. Most of them spent hours on the seas in small mission ships ploughing through giant waves desperate to get to the meeting or home again.
All of them are glad they went. They quietly live with their memories and hopes for a future where they will meet the many people they went to serve. They anticipate the time when they will be together again with the loved ones they lost in the homeland while they were far away.
Most of them live with divided hearts – some of it still in the mission field, some of it in their homes of origin or habitat now. Some of them have never settled after experiencing other cultures and different world views. They all long for that blessed Hope, they have taught and trusted in, when all will be well.
Some names – Anderson, Boehm, Butler, Cozens, Faull, Fehlberg, Ferris, Hill, Lambert, Martin, Mulligan, Smith, Stellmaker, Tasker, Townend, Twist, Wilkinson, Watts.