Continuing the Story

We thought you’d enjoy this devotion, written by Tom Howard just before striking out on a “new beginning.”  


Last week seven new MAF-US missionary families were appointed. That’s always exciting, but somehow more so for me this time. You see, Friday is the last day my wife Valli and I will be MAF career staff. We are retiring. It’s a bit like passing a baton in a relay race.

There were a lot of times over the years we weren’t sure we would get here. Half of our time in Congo it was a war zone. We went through periods that threatened our marriage. We had aging parents back home who needed us. We got sick. We were ripped off by people we trusted. We were always short staffed, with more work to do than could ever be done. At times we questioned our calling.

Tom and Valli Howard.

So many times, we would say to each other, “This is it, we can’t do this anymore. God must be telling us it’s time to leave. Surely He is calling us to some other ministry.” Looking back, I have no doubt that the Enemy was standing in the shadows planting those thoughts and cheering, hoping we’d drop the baton.

With God’s help we got through. Here we are, in the final stage of the race. But I don’t think of retiring as an ending, but a new beginning.

Mark 1:1 starts out: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ…”. And if you accept Mark 16:8 as the ending that Mark wrote, and look at it in the Greek, it ends with “…they were afraid, because.” It ends with a conjunction! It’s like when we were kids at camp telling stories around the camp fire. One person would end a particularly exciting part of the story mid-sentence, and the next one of us would pick it up and go on. Mark begins the story, ends it mid-sentence, and each of us has to tell our part.

This part of Valli’s and my part is coming to an end. I have no doubt we will have more to write. All of you are still writing. And our new MAF missionaries are just starting to write their chapters.

Because I can’t wait to read how this ends…


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