Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tommy. . .

Someday I went to grow up and be like Tommy.

When I met Tommy during our first trip to Ghana, I felt like I was talking to an old family friend. He was just like the men I had grown up with . . Tommy is from a rural community in Alabama, was a part-time farmer and had owned a auto mechanic shop . He is a salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar kind of guy. Kind of weathered and tough looking, he loves Jesus as much as anyone I know, . . .and it shows. . .

Now in his mid-seventies, he has lived full-time in Ghana for around 10 years as a missionary in the village of Nalerigu and the surrounding communities. He had done short-term missions with his wife to Ghana, and following her death from cancer, he moved to Ghana to live with and love the people there. He is amazing. He is completely fluent in the native local language, and as I watched him interact with the local folks, he is truly loved and respected by the people. And he has a toughness and sparkle in his eye that keeps him young way beyond his years. . .I loved watching him zip around the compound on his little motorcycle. He has the same grin while he is riding it as my 20-year old son.

Tommy has built a home in the village and has a farm outside of town. He has a preaching and teaching ministry to the nearby communities, and he works with the farmers on improving their farming techniques. Tommy had a small tractor shipped to Ghana, so he could help the local farmers plow their fields, which are typically worked by hand. Our culture so exalts book knowledge and brains, but Tommy’s giftedness with his hands was beyond compare. He can fix anything.

As Todd and I enter the “empty nest” and approach the retirement stage of life, the discussion of what to do with the rest of our lives comes up often. . .I am asking the Lord that I just want to be like Tommy, living and loving people with a Gospel kind of love for the rest of my life. And if the Lord sends us to another part of the world to serve, so be it. . .but there are also tons of folks right here in our community who are crying out for someone to love them in Jesus’ name.

In our culture, retirement has been so exalted and lifted up as one of the ultimate goals as we grow older, that we often think we are “entitled” to years of hobbies, trips and social outings. . .but retirement is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. We may “retire” from our daily jobs, but where do we get the idea that we can rotate hunting, fishing, golfing, crafting and other time-consuming hobbies for the rest of our days here on earth? A majority of Moses’ ministry didn’t get started till he was 40 years old. . .and he led the people daily till he simply went up on a mountain and “was gathered to his fathers”. . .

When we chose to serve Jesus all of our days as Tommy has done, there is often a cost. . . he has given up years of living near his grown children and their families, and he struggles with not being near his grandchildren and being part of their daily lives. . ..Tommy goes home about once a year, but his love for the people of Ghana keeps drawing him back. He knows there will be a day when he will need to go home for good, and that day may be sooner than later. . .but in the mean time, he is serving  and showing Jesus to folks who need all the hope they can get.

I wanted to write about Tommy because I don't ever want to forget him and the impression he made on me during my two visits to Ghana this past year. . He reminded me so much of Dorothy Mazuk (for those of you who knew her) . .. They both have taught me that life is all about serving Jesus by loving people . . .and there's really nothing else that compares.

Yup, I want to grow up and be like Tommy. . . .


  1. Bonnie,Thanks for sharing about Tommy! He meant so much to us during our time in Nalerigu and still is very special to us!! He is an amazing person and God is using him to bless so many!!
    Elisabeth Faile

  2. May God bless Tommy for his love for Jesus as he expresses that love to the people in Ghana, and may we all fervently embrace our mission fields for our mutual joy in Christ.