I am a retired Seventh-day Adventist minister—and I am 100 years old. Thanks be to God! At the time of retirement, I had some health challenges, so I retired two years early. Being released from the pressure of my work and a change of location helped enormously. Within a year, my health returned to normal.
I made myself available to my local church, conference and union. I soon became very busy as a volunteer. I was elected to many things, but my appointment as chair of the local church school board was one of my most rewarding assignments. We went from 8 students to 59 students, from kindergarten through to ninth grade, in just a few short years. Praise be to God. I realized that while employment may be ended, ministry is not over until God says it’s over.
Life in a motor home
The mid-1990s saw the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for my wife. Macie would panic when I was out of sight. So, we sold our home, bought a motor coach, and traveled around, visiting our children. We did this for more than 10 years. It was wonderful. When it became evident that it was not safe to continue, my children and I lovingly placed Macie in a caring nursing home. One year later, my Macie passed away.
The community life
I now reside in a large retirement community. We have Catholics; Protestants, Jews; and, from time to time, a Muslim or two. Of course, there are one or two that do not consider themselves religious. As a minister, I began to wonder whether there was a way to reach out to these wonderful persons. It dawned on me that we have something in common—Jews, Christians, and Muslims all base our religion on the foundation of the Old Testament.
I planned a Bible study class, approved by the building administration, using only the Old Testament as our textbook. Almost every resident came—at least, those able to get around. Keep in mind, almost all of our residents are in their 90s!
We began at Genesis chapter one. By this time, they knew I was a Seventh-day Adventist minister, but we were learning together. Most class members had heard about Creation but were reading for the first time about Creation taking place during seven literal 24-hour days. I asked them whether it would be possible to believe the Bible account of Creation and still accept the theory of evolution. They were in awe.
In Genesis chapters 2 and 3, we learned of the creation of humanity, the Garden of Eden, and God’s instruction to Adam and Eve. We also learned that, although they had sinned, God had prepared a plan to redeem them from sin. This whole story was new to my class members.
We are now many months into our study. These Bible truths appear so new to them that they are overwhelmed by what they are learning, and there are almost no questions or comments. I am wondering whether they are now ready for the New Testament.
The teaching life
This Bible study has been good for me also. I have read the Bible through many times. I am very familiar with it, but teaching takes a specific kind of preparation. I ask, with each passage, whether there’s a message in it for me. I now know what Scripture means when it says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1, NIV).
Our attendance is steady. I feel that most of them have a greater appreciation of their God and increased faith in the Holy Bible. Time after time, we have seen God’s love and grace, but we have all learned that, sometime, there will be a judgment, and at that time, our attitude toward God will determine whether we will have eternal life or death.
As we study, we discover that God has used ordinary men and women through whom He has communicated His will to us. All were born with sinful natures, and yet they followed God’s instructions implicitly. Some were men; some were women. Some were trained—many were not. Some were very young; others were very old. God used Noah for 120 years. God has used me for 100! As long as you allow Him, I believe God will use you too.