Mike chaired the missions committee for many years. Now they are the first home-grown, empty nester tentmakers to be sent out by their home church. There are challenges for Mike and Sharon, but there are rewards too. Together, they give new meaning to “The Golden Years”.
As an energy and environmental resource management consultant, I had for years dreamed of contributing to the greening of China’s energy infrastructure and participating in God's work there.
I took jobs with several companies interested in the China market, hoping that they would place me overseas. For years, I traveled often to China, but my work was largely stateside. My wife and I kept praying, and it was getting frustrating.
Finally, the Lord showed me that perhaps the best way would be to move to China as an independent consultant. We have to use our retirement savings to support ourselves, but we would have more flexibility for ministry.
The decision was made. My wife took early retirement from the school district so that we could go together.
Soon after settling down, we discovered a house church meeting in our apartment complex. It is part of a larger network in the city. Teaching from the pulpit is solid, but most of the church members have only come to faith in the last few years.
After just 2-3 months, we earned the trust of the pastor, who invited us to teach a Sunday school class on dating and marriage as most of the young adults and couples in the congregation were struggling with these issues. We quickly became very busy with personal counseling. As we learned about the brokenness in the young people's lives, we felt deeply for them.
We also began to learn about the stress they experienced from work. As urban professionals trying to live out their faith in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic environment, often with both husband and wife working demanding jobs, many of them felt overwhelmed. It was not long before I had to start another class on faith in the workplace.
The Road Ahead
My work with state-owned enterprises in the energy industry takes great patience. A few months ago, I finally collected my consulting fees for the first time. It took some persuasion for my client to agree to pay me through the proper channels. I trust God will continue to answer my prayer to honor him in the Chinese marketplace.
In the few short years since we landed in China, the Lord has opened many doors for us to serve the local faith community. As an older couple, we are privileged to serve young people who trust us and readily seek our counsel. The needs are great. We are therefore praying for the Lord to send more workers like ourselves.