Why students and retirees are critical to reaching the unreached

October 17, 2018

The Bible calls our journey as Christians a race.

Once you trust Christ as your Savior, your race begins. As you move through different seasons of your life, God has a plan for you. Your desire should be to finish strong.

Students and retirees are two diverse groups who are at different points in their respective races, but they both have tremendous potential to make an impact for God’s kingdom.

One group is striving to complete their education and looking forward to beginning a career in their chosen profession. The other is approaching the end of a career and looking forward to some rest, relaxation and extended time with family and friends.
Both groups possess unique opportunities to labor in the harvest field and share the good news of Jesus on a campus, in their community or around the world.

For students, American universities have a large and growing international student population. Many of these students come from countries where traditional missionaries are not allowed. This provides a golden opportunity to engage international students with the gospel.

Many international students would welcome someone to come alongside them in practical ways, such as going shopping, understanding bus routes around town and navigating locations on campus. Take time to learn about their culture, religion and family because they may be lonely and looking for a friend. The bottom line is to be aware that they are here and be intentional and motivated to reach them.
For retirees, American culture has portrayed retirement in an unbiblical way. Every TV commercial directed at retirees portrays retirement as the time to finally focus on ourselves and our desires.

As believers, we need to reject this idea. We never retire from being God’s ambassadors, nor are we released from the joy and responsibility of advancing the kingdom.

Retirees have a number of advantages when it comes to ministering to the lost. They have that most valuable of commodities — time. Many have substantial financial resources that give them tremendous freedom and flexibility. They also have a wealth of experience and maturity to weather strong challenges. In many cultures and situations, age and maturity are revered and respected, which gives retirees a tremendous advantage over their younger colleagues.  

Retirees must resist American cultural norms and maintain the motivation to stay involved in ministry. Why not “adopt” an international student? Or maybe you could teach conversational English to immigrants in your community. Many retirees are involved in disaster relief ministries, particularly in North Carolina. Or think really big and move to an urban center where the need for missionaries is great.

As recent retirees, my husband and I have wrestled with these issues. We spent 18 years as missionaries with the International Mission Board in Asia and 10 more years in ministry in the United States. At the ages of 63 and 62, we sold our home, cars and other possessions to move into a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, N.Y., where we are involved in church planting.

God placed New York City on our hearts through a partnership with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. We made many trips to the city and through a variety of circumstances, and God made it clear to us that He wanted us here on a full-time basis. God is opening amazing doors for us to minister to a wide range of people groups in our own neighborhood, including many who are unreached.

We’re also helping train the next generation of young missionaries who will carry God’s work forward long after we are gone.
None of us know how much time we have on earth, but the finish line is approaching. Our desire should be to finish strong, to run the race with endurance and to be sprinting toward the finish line when He calls us home.


by Debra Smith  
/  Contributing Writer

Challenges families face when ministering to the unreached

Pursuing unreached peoples with the gospel as a family requires simple obedience that leads to a life of kingdom service.As we commit to “become all things” to unreached peoples living near us, we expose virtually every aspect of our lives.Marital peace, behavioral expectations,...

Seeing life through the eyes of a refugee

We live in a day when global migrations are occurring at a dizzying pace. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, more than 44,000 people per day are forced to flee their homes due to violent conflict or persecution. Let that number sink in — 44,000 people per day. Many countries...

Why students and retirees are critical to reaching the unreached

The Bible calls our journey as Christians a race. Once you trust Christ as your Savior, your race begins. As you move through different seasons of your life, God has a plan for you. Your desire should be to finish strong. Students and retirees are two diverse groups who are at...

How a couples’ care for refugees opens doors to share Jesus

As believers, we reach the nations because Jesus is worthy of the praise of the nations. Also, according to Acts 17, the Lord has moved the nations to us that they may know and worship Him. Personally, we reach the nations as a married couple because the Lord currently has us in...

Reaching them here as a single

Growing up, family Scripture memory revolved around reminders of our identity as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), our commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and passages that highlighted what it means to live between eternal security and being a...

5 ways to facilitate cultural immersion experiences with your church

Have you ever spent time looking for something only to discover it was right in front of you? I apparently suffer from this malady when it comes from finding things in the refrigerator. Just ask my wife — she’ll tell you the very thing I’m searching for is usually right in front...

Displaying Christ-centered community to our international neighbors

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message … may they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – John 17:20, 23 On the night Jesus was betrayed, He spent an extended time...

We have to have a humble attitude

What should our attitude be as we reach a community? I believe there are three characteristics that should be evident — humility, compassion and truth. Humility When we go into a community, we have to have a humble attitude. We have to go understanding that we are not better than...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and event information by signing up for the N.C. Baptist newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!