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Missionary calling? – God Overcame Barriers!
Betty and I made a commitment to become missionaries in the early 1960s after we heard Agricultural Missionary Dale Carter speak for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering program at First Baptist Church, College Station. After the program, I told Betty that becoming an agricultural missionary was something that I would like to do, and together we made a commitment to become missionaries. Betty revealed to me that she had made a commitment to be a missionary at the age of twelve. She had never told me because she did not want to put pressure on me.
I was in graduate school at the time. After investigating further, we realized that the debt limit of $700.00 would prevent us from going for several years. We would, by that time, have children over twelve years old which would disqualify us.
Donna had made a commitment to become a missionary at the age of seven. Because of circumstances preventing us from going, we began to feel that maybe we had misunderstood our calling. Perhaps God had called us to be parents of a missionary instead of going ourselves. We did everything we could to encourage Donna over the years. We went to Glorietta, New Mexico to foreign missions week in 1984. Our family shared a cabin with the Fort family. Donna and Gregg visited with their mission board advisor as they prepared for appointment as missionaries. During their conference, the advisor asked that they tell something about their parents. Donna described my background including my training and experience in agriculture. The advisors asked if we might consider appointment to an open agricultural position in Liberia. We could not see any way clear to go at that time, but because of our commitment 20 years earlier, agreed to meet with the representative. Still not seeing how it could happen, we expressed interest and began the process for appointment in earnest and planned to go as far as possible in the process.
Several barriers at that time made the possibility of going unlikely. We could not see beyond them at all. First, Betty’s invalid mother still lived with us most of the time and some time with Betty’s sister Verby in Jacksonville, Florida. We simply did not feel that we could leave the entire burden on the other sister. Secondly, our son Joel was in college and we did not feel that we should leave while he was at a critical stage in his college program. Third, we had a house and the partnership in the garden center. We would have to sell our house and find a suitable and compatible buyer for the business in fairness to my business partners.
We received a letter in a few weeks saying that the position in Liberia was no longer open because of a change in priorities. We again thought the issue was resolved and settled back into our routine.
We received a phone call from Betty’s sister early in 1985 letting us know that their mother who was living with her for a while had died in her sleep. We stopped our mail, made necessary arrangements, and headed to Jacksonville, Florida for the funeral service. When we settled Betty’s mothers affairs, we headed home. We arrived in McAllen and checked the mailbox. Although we had requested a hold on our mail, we returned to find one piece of mail in the box.
This letter contained a notice from the Foreign Mission Board that another position for an agricultural missionary had opened in Liberia and inquired as to whether we had a continuing interest. We were interested, but still did not see our way clear to go.
A few weeks later Joel called to tell us that the college level courses he took while at Pan American College while in high school had finally been accepted as elective courses at The University of Texas and he would graduate a semester early.
Suddenly the only obstacles keeping us from going were the disposition of our home and our share of ownership in the garden center. We decided to see what might happen and placed an ad in the local paper. In two weeks, we had sold our home and our share in the garden center to the same family. All barriers had been removed and we knew that we would soon begin our journey to Liberia.
Cliff H. – 1960 through 1985