Feature

Retirement Is Optional

Serving the God of lifelong adventure

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For some, drinking sweet tea on the porch or playing golf in Arizona is a picture of an idyllic retirement. For others in their golden years, a kicked-back lifestyle will have to wait. Meet some widowers and couples spending one to two years filling in the gaps for Alliance teams.

Senegal

Al Boesenberg, who worked in Ivory Coast (now Côte d’Ivoire) with his wife, Betty, for 28 years, wants to serve as long as the Lord enables him. “God has given me a measure of health and a personality that wants to serve,” the 80-year-old says. “I hope to die with my boots on.” He learned about midterm missions through two Alliance workers in Senegal. “They had been at our church, and my son Eric encouraged me to explore the possibility of getting back to Africa,” he explains. “Betty was called home in December 2015, and [Eric and I] thought it would be good for me to keep busy for the Lord.”

So in November 2016, Envision sent Al to Senegal for a year to work at a vocational training school for disadvantaged young men. His list of duties includes everything from leading devotions to helping as a handyman and maintenance worker. He also preaches as needed, serves in a prison ministry, and participates in a soccer outreach.

“I am not in this for my benefit,” Al says. “Although, I have found that when I obey [God’s] leading and do what He has led me to do, obedience always brings blessing.”

Middle East

For Dennis Parrish, who will turn 69 in November, spending a year teaching English to Kurds in the Middle East has given him hope. Two years ago, his wife who struggled with schizophrenia, took her own life. “My whole world was absolutely shaken, and it sent a shock wave through our church. But by His grace, I had faith that somehow I would see God’s hand in all of this,” Dennis says.

After months of excruciating grief and mournful prayer, Dennis sensed God remind him that He is still sovereign and He still had work for him to do. “I knew then that if only He would take this burden of grief from me, I would spend the rest of my life serving Him.”

Dennis’ church, The Grove Community Church (Riverside, Calif.), partners with an Alliance team that runs an adult language institute. Hearing about their need for more teachers, Dennis applied to go with Envision.

“Even after all the tragedy and trauma, I still seek God’s leading, while accepting His abundant grace,” he says. “I’m going on adventures for the privilege of serving the Kingdom, and the rewards are beyond measure.”

Mongolia

Chaz and Jean Frechette, ages 46 and 51 respectively, are using midterm missions to pursue a new calling. Chaz had been a cop for 18 years and was only a couple of years away from being eligible for full retirement when the county government began making cuts. “It was clear God was making a change in my life,” he says.

Around that same time, New Season Community Church in Belgium, Wisconsin, began a partnership with the Mongolian missions team. Chaz and his wife, Jean, felt God calling them to go. Their prayer was answered when international workers in Mongolia asked the Frechettes to take their place during their home assignment. So Chaz is the executive director of a coffee house, and Jean is the field’s bookkeeper.

“We are glad to be here, to join in at such a time as this, and we encourage anyone of any age to go,” Jean says. “It’s never too late or too soon. Ask [God] where He wants you to go, and then go! ”

Thailand

When Rick and Pat Harris, both 67, decided to fill in as the managers of the Alliance Mission Home in Bangkok, Thailand, they got pushback from all sides. “Why would you do this?” asked old friends and colleagues.

“We like to go into places that provide some kind of challenge,” Rick explains. Plus the couple’s previous building, business, and pastoral experience seemed to fit the field’s need. Rick had worked in the grocery business for 12 years. Pat had successfully ran her own fabric and quilt shop. Together they were in the pastorate for 40 years, planting three C&MA churches.

“I knew I had to get out of the pulpit and actually live what I’ve been preaching about for 40 years,” Rick says.

Prior to their departure in early 2017, Rick and Pat, who have been married 48 years, discussed if they would do well as coworkers. “It has pleasantly surprised us both,” Rick says. “We have worked together hand-in-glove without missing a beat, and we crash at night, smiling and chuckling about the events of the day.”

Out of the Zoo

Every year my family vacations in the Smoky Mountain National Park. We didn’t take that trip this year. Probably won’t next year either because my wife and I are in Thailand.

In all the years we did go, our favorite thing was hiking. On our favorite trail we almost always saw black bears. One time they were up close and personal.

My son-in-law saw her first—10 feet off the trail in a thicket. Everyone began moving quickly down the path. I stopped along with my daughter, Heidi, who just had to see it. Suddenly, from the rock on the opposite side of the trail, we heard a cub squeal. We were between mamma bear and her cub—the most dangerous place you can be.

As the bear came around the thicket, my daughter and I ran as fast as we could. We caught up with the others, and boy, did we have a story to tell!

Because of those kinds of outings, my family isn’t interested in zoos. Think about it:

“Hey, Rick! Want to go see the black bears at the zoo?”

“Really? Do you mean that lethargic and forlorn bear behind the Plexiglas in the comfort of the cool, man-made cave? No, thanks.”

Zoos don’t hold much appeal for us anymore.

Why would an old Alliance couple go to Thailand? Because once you’ve experienced the adventure of following the Holy Spirit, the thrill of the uncertainty of each day, away from the safety of the padded pew, you just can’t be satisfied with the routine any longer.

Go ahead; try it just for fun. Pat and I have been blessed with 48 years of adventures. We’re working on 49.

 —Rick Harris

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