Early Retirees: Paul & Helena


For over 25 years, Paul enjoyed a rewarding career in banking. Helena served in a large social service agency. After several promotions, she directed a program with 54 staff members in 4 counties.

About 10 years ago, Paul left banking and used his administrative skills to serve in Christian organizations. As a couple, they were involved in lay counseling, teaching and mentoring at church.

Life was full and fulfilling for Paul and Helena. But when they became empty nesters, they took a step of faith to explore serving in China. They decided to give themselves two years to try it out.

China Explorations

Helena became an employee counselor in a large factory. She worked mostly with young women from the countryside who were new to the big city. Paul took a position in finance with the same company. But when the job required relocation to a different city away from his wife, he quit and became volunteer administrator for a non-profit reaching out to runaway teens.

Through their work, they both developed a heart for migrant workers, who left their home villages for economic opportunities in the swarming cities of China. “We want to help them find hope in God and discover that He truly is the way to a better life,” Paul said.

After three years in a large coastal city, Paul and Helena moved to a manufacturing hub in southern China. As employee counselors in Christian-owned factories, they serve migrant workers through life skill training and recreational programs. But their local salaries could not cover all their living expenses and international health insurance. So they are raising partial support.

How They Have Come This Far

Paul and Helena are cautious people, planners. They began with small steps. First, Paul left his career to serve in Christian organizations at home. Then they gave two years to explore China, supporting themselves with two paid jobs. When their calling and mission became clear, they took a bigger step of faith to stay longer term, willing even to do partial fund raising.

In this journey of small steps, the first one is probably the hardest. But once the inertia is overcome, the adventure could take on a life of its own.

“We will be celebrating our 35th anniversary this year,” Helena said. “We thank God for keeping our relationship sweet and strong. Serving in China has brought us even closer to God and to each other. We want to be where God want us to be and do what He wants us to do.”

Paul and Helena have discovered an exciting way to invest their empty nester years. Their adult children are proud of what their parents are doing. Their best years are still ahead.