The Missionary’s New Song: A Legacy Worth Leaving

Snuggled in my bed, surrounded by the soft comfort of an old down blanket, I stared at my phone watching the playback of a month old live-stream from Inglewood Baptist Church.

My Great Uncle Don Jones and his friend (another retired missionary), in a beautiful crescendo, gloriously sang the words:

 “No more death when we get to heaven. No more death when we get to heaven…Hallelujah, Hallelujah…no more death! No more death, but life forevermore.”

Don Jones quote (1)Earlier that day my Great Uncle stepped into that life forevermore; for him death is no more. He is in the presence of the Savior to which he dedicated his life, and for him there could be no better day. Those of us left behind feel the pain of loss; for him there is no more pain. I am so thankful for the prayers he prayed for me, and the support he gave me in the ministry I have had the privilege of being involved in. My thoughts of him that night were tainted with grief, yet sweet and hopeful for his new home. As my eyes became heavy with slumber, my last thoughts settled on, “What a well lived life.”

He was 88 and was still teaching, singing, and serving others because of the love first given to him by Jesus. Prayers swelled in my heart to my Savior, that I too would live a life with that type of legacy. Loving God and loving people, knowing God and making Him known, a legacy of Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

His wife Nita was likewise filled with bold gentleness, and together they were missionaries in South Korea for 36 years as they raised their two children. I still remember her hugs… for some reason that is my clearest memory of her. It wasn’t really the hug itself but the feeling of deep comfort wrapped within them. She died in 2004, but the love they shared didn’t. You still saw and felt it when he spoke of her.

Legacy Don and NitaI remember sitting with my grandmother and my mother huddled around our giant box of a TV watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Don and Nita were serving as translators. Every time their event would come on someone would yell, “Hit the record button!” as we tried to catch a glimpse of our family members on the sides of the diving pools of the world-wide competition. With such a small view of his life and his impact for God’s kingdom, I naively thought this was the coolest thing about my Uncle Don. I shrugged my shoulders at the work he was doing in Korea, that he held a Masters and a PhD, and that he had walked faithfully with Jesus since childhood. The Olympics, that was what impressed 6-year-old me. But what sticks with me now, and will remain until my own walk into eternity, is the race of faith he ran.

I look to them, this generation that went before and I dream for my children and their children. When we lose a family member who reaches the end having truly glorified Christ, we are compelled to ask: “How did they get there, and how can I do the same?” My Great Uncle and Aunt did it, my Grandparents did it, and I want to do it. Legacy doesn’t mean dying after a long life and being fondly remembered, but living well and making an eternal impact.

Now he sings a new song, one too beautiful for me to yet comprehend; it harmonizes with what his life sung of the grace and glory of God.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”      Colossians 3:1-4


Readers, This month we will be diving into thoughts on legacy. Who has left a lasting mark on your life in a way you would like to do for others? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, Biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Christianity Today: Women Leaders, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

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Christmas Moments Amongst the Mundane

Last year, when Christmas tunes began to ring out from the radio, our mostly quiet family of three became a raucous party of seven. My husband and I have one teenage daughter and, while we weren’t on the list for emergency foster care, four siblings (ranging in ages from 7-15) were delivered to our home during a crisp late fall morning so they could spend the holidays together, connected.

As we folded new family members into daily life, I realized they knew very little of the true story of Christmas. The way in which we celebrated Christmas was drastically different from what these kids commonly expected. The holiday season became a time of learning about these kids and their traditions, and articulating our own. Christmas for us tends to go deeper than the kinds of food, type of music, and activities we participate in. As we explained that, we began to see opportunities woven throughout our days to speak the truth of God’s grand plan to seek out, love, and mend hearts.

God instructed his people in Deuteronomy 6:4-8 to teach their children of Him in all aspects of life, to let the everyday moments become meaningful.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:4b-8

We too can speak the good news throughout our days, sharing that the Savior came in the form of a fragile baby who would change the world. There may be no other season that presents more opportunities to connect the dots between our lives and the story of God in a way that deeply matters to our children, our neighbors, and our own souls.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to have any of the conversations that came about. Instead, the light of the world began to illuminate in the moments I least expected. In the car the youngest exclaimed “Jesus is the King of Love,” as she remembered the lyrics to a song she had heard. On another occasion, as we were hurrying along, the preteen asked me in a public restroom, “Why is it important that Jesus was born. Wasn’t he just another baby?” I didn’t expect to get to explain the whole story of redemption as we washed our hands and talked over the whir of the electric hand drier, but I had the privilege to do so.

Isn’t that exactly how God intersects with our lives? The moments we could never plan are when He makes Himself known.

Though these siblings were able to be reunited with family by the time Christmas morning arrived, I came away from the season acutely aware of the meaning of each moment. The real story of Christmas just needed to be pointed out. Not in a grand production, or lengthy speech, but in the simple moments wherever the Holy Spirit brought about a connection.

Today, may we ask God to illuminate the places where His overarching story of glory and grace melds the mundane moments with the eternal epic. May God connect the dots of the busy with the dots of the meaningful. Let us ponder with awe the baby in the manger and share with glad and sincere hearts of the hope He brings. May this season be steeped in moments that deepen our faith and point us to Christ.

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Readers, How do you share the true meaning of Christmas with those around you? Tell us in the comments.

b0de0-holly2bsquareHolly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.

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Hope on Distant Shores

Author: Rachel Olson

Just over a year ago, a lifelong dream came true. I was accepted to join Mercy Ships, an organization that brings free surgical care to some of the poorest countries of Africa. I quit my job, packed my bags, and moved to Madagascar, where I have spent the past eight and a half months wading through what it means to live and work in another culture loving people very different from me.

This all started back in middle school, when God clearly called me to spend my life with the world’s forgotten poor. That call stemmed from a close relationship with God, during a huge season of growth when I was pouring frequent, consistent time into seeking his guidance and he was radically transforming me and putting new desires in my heart. And yet even with that firm foundation, I was tempted to put international ministry on a pedestal. During the many years of waiting for this dream to come to fruition, I had expectations of how it would deepen my faith. Now that I am finally stepping into this calling, I have found something concerning — others are putting me on a pedestal for it.

I work for an organization whose motto is to “bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.” I have watched fragile, starving infants slowly become plump and healthy right before my eyes. I have seen deep despair in a patient’s eyes be replaced by joy in a matter of days. I am living in a place where the transformation is clearly visible.It is easy for me, and others, to see purpose and meaning in my work. It can be easy for my job to look more valuable or fulfilling than someone else’s. And yet, more and more, I am realizing these things can still be meaningless externals by their own merit. None of this, not one of our good things, brings purpose or fulfillment on its own.

I still believe obedience is key for living in intimacy with God, and for me that obedience meant walking into international ministry; so in a roundabout way living this life should be fulfilling. Yet I am finding that hope does not come from anything I can do or have done for God. Hope can only be found in God — in who He is, and what He has done. I can strive and work out of my own strength for God my entire life in stress, angst, and exhaustion. I can do great things that people may applaud me for, or I can seek to join God in what He is doing. Seeking to be close to His heart without my value or worth being dependent on my performance or the feedback of others. These two ways of living look similar on the outside, but in the heart they are worlds apart.

The plan for my life may be to dive into international ministry for the long haul, or it may turn out to stay there only for a season; but ultimately my purpose is to seek and know Jesus regardless of the country I am in or the level of economic standing I am surrounded by. My desire in living well is not to create my own hope, but to live out of the hope he gives.  I seek and pray that Jesus will help me to remember and walk in this truth.

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Readers, Have you been tempted to elevate good works over grace by faith, or to lift dreams above the God who saves? It is easy to do, but a right view of our lives, hopes, and God will bring more peace than any desire and lead us into the adventure of living for the glory of God. 

Interested in supporting Rachel? Check out the info in her bio.

Thanks for reading,
The Anchored Voices Team

Rachel Olson enjoys reading, making music and exploring new cultures. She especially loves seeing patients find healing, often after years of waiting with no chance of receiving surgical care. To hear more about her journey with Mercy Ships or how you can be a part of it, visit mundanesplendor.blogspot.com or facebook.com/rachelinafrica