Be careful of barbecue conversations, because you never know where they might lead! Especially if you are newly retired and have an open mind about where God might be leading you.
This was certainly true for retired Openbook Publishers General Manager Warren Schirmer, 73, and his wife Marianne, 69, when they met Lutheran Church in Singapore mission director Rev Dr William Chang at a friend’s barbecue in Adelaide back in 2010. The friend hosting the barbecue was Glenice Hartwich, then from LCA International Mission.
When Dr Chang started talking about the need for a new church plant in Cambodia, supported by the Singaporean church, Warren began thinking about how he could help. This was despite knowing little about the mission challenges in the South-East Asian country.
‘Cambodia was right out of our comfort zone, but we did say yes’, Warren recalls. ‘How does the Holy Spirit work? I have been driven by the gospel. My family has always been involved in the church … and here was part of the church family desperately needing volunteers to support the local Lutheran church.’
The couple, married since 1979 and 40-year members of St Johns Lutheran Church at Unley in suburban Adelaide, then went on their first reconnaissance trip to Cambodia and were hooked. ‘Both of us got busy working with the Lutheran Church in Singapore’s mission and we became very closely linked personally with the Cambodians’, Warren says.
For Warren and Marianne, a retired educator, it was all about working with the locals to provide a helping hand, while sharing the gospel. ‘Living closely to people who are first-generation Christians and seeing the excitement in their faces, it was amazing the way God works through that’, he says.
‘Australia has … an older generation with … wisdom and time. If we are called there, why wouldn’t we do that?’
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