To our friends, prayer partners, and supporters, Jill and I would like you to know that we are retiring from ministry as missionaries to Zambia effective August 1st, and have submitted our resignation to BIMI, our sending agency.
We have invested a lot of prayer into this decision and do not make it lightly. For months now we have asked the Lord for clear direction and we believe that we have received it.
My parents are 75 and 82 years old and are very near the point in their lives where they will need someone to assist them physically from time to time. Already there are issues with their health that concern us. I am an only child, and I feel a Biblical obligation to assist my parents in whatever way necessary if needed. This obligation comes from my understanding of Matthew 15:4-9 and Mark 7:9-13.
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. 9 But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
9 And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
In these passages, Jesus was preaching to the scribes and Pharisees about how they were rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep their own tradition. He specifically mentioned the practice of Jews who neglected the financial care of their parents by declaring “It is Corban” or “It is a gift”. Corban meant “the gold of the temple” or “the gift upon the altar”, or simply “devoted to God as a gift”. By saying this, the adult child was saying that funds that should be used to help their parents had been donated to the temple.
In our language what they were saying was, “We understand that you are in need, and that we have a Biblical obligation to help you, but Sorry…, the money that we would have helped you with we have dedicated to the temple as an offering instead.”
In most cases this was a lie. They simply did not want to help their parents. But Jesus’ response does not address whether it was a true or false statement. His reply was that the obligation to their parents superseded their offering to the temple.
I have thought long and hard about this passage. Jill and I have studied it, read commentaries about it and prayed over it. I believe that the principle that Jesus was teaching on would also apply to me personally if my service to the Lord in Zambia would cause me to neglect to be near to my parents to assist them physically in their time of need. It would be like me saying “I understand that you are in physical need of assistance, and I believe that the Word of God teaches that I have an obligation to help you, but Sorry…, the time and physical help that I would have helped you with I have dedicated to serving God in Zambia instead.”
I know that others may not see our situation this way, and may disagree with our understanding of these passages, and that is ok. What is important to me and Jill is that we do our best to obey the Word of God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In this case we feel like the Lord is indicating to us that the time of our service as foreign missionaries in Zambia is finished and He is leading us forward to serve the Lord in a different capacity where we can be physically closer to our aging parents and our children.
There are other reasons for our retirement from foreign missions as well. Even in an amazing country like Zambia, ministering in a third world country is demanding both physically and emotionally. As they say, “Its not the years, its the miles.” For more than two decades Jill and I and our children have repeatedly endured tropical diseases like malaria, typhoid, dysentery (amoebic and bacterial), giardia, dengue fever and more which have taken a toll on our health. In some ways, we suspect that these diseases, battled again and again in our children’s childhood years, still affect their health today.
The emotional aspect is one that everyone who gives themselves completely to ministry endures. Investing your time, your very souls, into fragile human beings can be heart-breaking.
We have served as missionaries to Zambia for over 25 years. Through our partnership with you and our other supporters the Lord has accomplished extraordinary things and we have seen many people receive Christ as their Savior and numerous lives changed. In a way, our hearts are sad because we see so much more that could be done here in Zambia, but we are confident that this next step in our lives is being directed by the Lord. Of course, we will tremendously miss our Zambian Christian brothers and sisters, so many of which we have personally led to the Lord and have watched them grow in grace and spiritual maturity.
We leave Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola with complete ownership and title to the church property and the building which they paid for and built. The church has been financially independent for many years now, and has an assistant Pastor and men and women who have been taught and equipped to lead in various positions in the church. We will continue to pray that the Lord will provide a Zambian pastor for the church. This time of transition will be very difficult for the church. Please pray with us that the Lord will provide the right Zambian pastor for the church and make the transition proceed smoothly.
Please rest assured that there are no ulterior reasons for us retiring from Zambia and returning to the United States. There have been no moral failures or financial irregularities. Our marriage is perhaps the strongest that it has ever been in our relationship. We leave in good standing and testimony with the government of the Republic of Zambia and the members and leadership of Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola. We have the full blessing of our sending pastor (his letter is below).
We thank you for partnering with us through the years in this ministry in which the Lord has allowed us to serve. Only in Heaven will you truly realize the impact that you have made on individual lives, on families and on a nation.
Jill and I started our work here in Zambia with the goal of maintaining the highest degree of moral decency, financial accountability, and personal integrity, and to represent our Lord and our supporting churches faithfully and with honor. This is how we intend to finish our work.
Make no mistake, it is the Lord who has done great things in Zambia; we have just been His simple tools. All praise and glory for anything that has been accomplished goes to Him.
We ask for your prayers as we make this transition back to the United States. We will arrive in the United States much the same way as we left it – with just a couple of suitcases apiece and a small shipping crate of personal items and mementos. Of course, when we boarded that British Air flight in Chicago on a frigid winter’s night over two decades ago, we had a 21 month old little boy and 3 month old baby girl to keep track of. Now it is just us.
We do not own a home in the United States, nor do we have jobs waiting for us. We enter this next step in our lives by faith, knowing that the Lord will provide in His way, in His time.
We are happy to have been able to give to the Lord our youth, our family, and our homeland and serve Him these 25 years in Zambia, Africa. We look forward to serving our Lord in the United States in the years to come. We greatly desire your continued prayers.
Not Turning Back, But MOVING FORWARD !
Andy and Jill Schultz