Epilogue – Looking Back
And as they say, “The rest is history”. But wait a minute, in looking back over our years at Langano, we see that there’s more to our story; a perspective that provides meaning and purpose to our Langano story.
But before I get into that, let me briefly relate what has happened to us since our return to Canada in 1976. A new career began when our home church, Central Baptist Church in Victoria, BC, hired me on as a pastor of visitation and then provided an ordination to pastoral ministry with the Fellowship Baptist Churches of Canada. From there Betty and I ministered in Fellowship Baptist churches on Vancouver Island. Betty also used her nursing skills in a seniors care home. During a block of time between serving churches, SIM asked me to assist the Canadian director in the Toronto office. There we lived for five years; I in administration and Betty developing the SIM archives.
That brings us to our retirement in Alberta, where we plan to live happily until …. well you know!
Reading all those blue airforms that Betty so faithfully wrote and that my mother kept in a box, made me decide to tell the Langano story. In doing so a picture began to emerge allowing us to see how God had a bigger picture for Langano than we could appreciate while engrossed in our busyness.
Telling our story has been something like slowly turning the focus ring on a camera lens. The big picture starts coming into clearer focus. Even before we arrived at Langano, it was difficult to see a clear focus. A couple of weeks before our going to Langano, Betty got cold feet. We had been filling in as hosts at our SIM holiday center. Lots of hustle and bustle there! Now, Betty faced the children going to boarding school. And she faced the prospect of bush living, with no women around that she could talk to. She told me she seriously questioned if this was really God’s will. She was cut out to be a people person. She was afraid. We talked it over, and finally I gently pointed out to her that we had dedicated ourselves to missionary service, and wasn’t this part of it? She agreed; we prayed and submitted our wills to God. A few tears, and then we could smile and carry on.
We look back at that experience as a turning point in experiencing the sovereignty of God in our lives. I am proud of Betty for accepting, what was for her, a difficult assignment. We moved into Langano knowing we were doing the right thing, but for a while there, the focus was sure blurry .
And I suppose the blur will continue to a certain degree until we can see more perfectly in heaven. But until then it’s great to see the picture somewhat coming into focus.
To be sure, our time at Langano was but a small segment of the much larger and more far reaching picture of what God is doing in the world. Our story is certainly not as dramatic and striking as most historic stories that fill library books and feature in film productions. But it is an important story to all of us who have lived and worked at that beautiful stretch of African bush along the shore at Lake Langano.
In spite of our shortcomings and mistakes, His sovereign strategy in all aspects of what transpired while we were there played an important part in what has taken place since we left …. a national church, a busy clinic, elementary school and a dynamic camping ministry that is reaching out to all of Ethiopia. Realizing that brings the big picture into clearer focus!
Here are a few examples of how we are able to focus into the bigger picture of His strategy. And I’m sure there are many more that we are not aware of.
1. We wanted to see the camp up and running as soon as possible. But God knew time was necessary for us to build a rapport with the Arsi people first. A couple of years later (Chapter 24) God let us in on a little secret as to why it took so long to see the camp up and running.
2. During our time of discouragement in wondering if it would ever be possible to complete the building, God, knowing we needed them, sent people to help and encourage us:
- Mark working with us for five months was a special encouragement by his manner and counsel when we needed it.
- Steve who came just at the right time to raise financial support, set direction and promote the camp …. all of which were not our gifts.
- Gordon and his tractor and trailer or his Mazda truck to transport supplies … something beyond my capabilities at the time.
- Len and June when we were home on furlough with their wise counsel…. giving us the faith and desire to return and complete our part of the job at Langano
- …. on and on the list goes!
3. After we left in 1976 and the revolution was in full swing, God had His way of protecting the camp property. A Christian Air Force officer who was familiar with Langano talked his Commanding Officer into establishing an R & R center there. Even though the property suffered some damage during the time after the Air Force pulled out, it was not damaged beyond repair. Guess who was really in control of Langano at that time when Ethiopia was in such turmoil!
4. With the revolution over and relative peace in the country, a delegation of Arsi men went to Addis to request SIM’s return to Langano. Is it too much to think that our presence during the time before this had something to do with their knowing where to go tor medical help? SIM’s return was another phase in God’s strategy for Langano’s future medical, educational, spiritual and camping ministry.
Standing under those massive trees the first day Albert Brant took us onto the property, we had no idea what the final outcome would be so many years later. We can only respond in the same way that David in the Old Testament did when he realized how God had safely spared him through harsh and potentially deadly circumstances so many times:
“As for God, his way is perfect.” (2 Samuel 22:31 )
How AWESOME is that!