John was my friend and my “go-to” counselor. I sought his advice (and normally heeded it) through many of the most challenging moments of my life. John was a man of thought and ideas. The cruel disease that struck him in his final years on earth, denied us… a generation of his disciples, the wisdom of one of the finest theological minds of our movement. It was difficult to see him struggle and I suppose somehow that made his homecoming a little sweeter.
Edna was all about people. She never visited a missionary home that she didn’t have some small gift of candy or a “piece of money” for the missionary children. She could cook. She could laugh. And the unabridged stories she told of her own struggles in missions gave her a sense of authenticity that you seldom see in a mission’s service in church or read in a missionary newsletter.
They made a difference in the world, and in my world and indirectly in everyone that I have had to privilege to mentor or lead. Much of what I know, and how Nancy and I operate we owe to them and to their example.
It has never been easy to be an effective missionary (or pastor, or carpenter, etc.). The challenges we face today are great, almost overwhelming. Without sincere self-denial, a willingness to pick up the Cross and a steadfast determination to follow Jesus come what may; it is impossible to finish well. John and Edna with wisdom, grace and spunk continue to inspire us to move beyond personal comfort and mediocrity.
John once told me, “Lin when God puts 2 people together it is because either you need him, or he needs you or you both need each other.” I thank the Lord Jesus for putting Nancy and me close to the Parkers. We sure needed them. Spain and Europe needed them. And the world is a better place today because one day they said, “Here am I Lord send me.”
Lord my prayer today, as we honor the memory of John and Edna is that you might send forth laborers, choice and committed servants into your Harvest. Re-seed the Harvest in the hearts of the next generation of Johns and Ednas.