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FIRST-PERSON: The long obedience

[SLIDESHOW=53320]RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — My parents are cleaning out cabinets. And bookshelves.

They’ve done this before. Purging. Moving across states and across the world.

But this is different. A time for downsizing. Studying space. Deciding what will fit in the next spot.

They’ll move to a smaller place one of these days. So now they are paring down. Letting go.

They push things into my hands when I express interest. A painting, a book. “Take it.”

William Carey

Today I sit at my desk and open one of those books that made the cut every other time.

“William Carey: Missionary, Pioneer and Statesman,” by F. Deaville Walker.

Inside the front cover my dad printed his name in his neat, spare penmanship.

And this note: Read Nov. 6, 1953.

On the facing page is a stamp of my parents’ first international address. Bangkok, Thailand. 1961. Our first home in Asia.

Notes in the margins

A quick perusal of the pages reveals multiple underlines in red and black. Notes in the margins. Reminders of his meticulous attention to detail. Reflecting the man I know.

Including his sense of humor. He drew a smiley face beside this sentence: “During the voyage, he [Carey] threw overboard the ugly wig he had been in the habit of wearing.”

I see principles gleaned. On one page he wrote, “A man who had not learned how to spend money caused much grief….” Dad saw the importance of financial wisdom. It’s reflected in my parents’ generous giving over the years. To the Lord’s work. At the Lord’s leading.

He marked references on the importance of unity with coworkers. And made a note: “Without unity of heart, mind, purpose, there can be no hope for success.” I think of the strong relationships he built with colleagues and national partners over the years.

Carey’s focus on languages and translating the Bible are highlighted. Underlined.

In their 29 years overseas, Mom and Dad learned language and culture well. In order to effectively communicate the Gospel and plant churches, teach Bible courses and lead Bible studies.

Later, Dad served as an editor at the Baptist publishing house in Indonesia. Promoting quality materials in the language of the people.

Family heritage

I look carefully through these pages.

I’m holding treasure. A book with my dad’s fingerprints and markings in it. And part of my family heritage.

Dad didn’t just read about missions. He listened. Heard God’s call to go. Obeyed.

He met and fell in love with Glenn Green at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. They were married. After pastorates in Louisiana and Alabama, followed the Lord to the ends of the earth.

They began this journey with a 2-year-old. Me. Crossing the Pacific Ocean. Sent by West Hartselle Baptist Church.

The long obedience

Dad turns 88 this year. And I’m still learning the roots of his long obedience. Those who discipled him as a new believer. What shaped his commitment and perseverance. The books that impacted his walk.

Preparation in these early years of his faith anchored him to the Lord and His Word during storms and trials. In sorrows and fears. Through decades of life and ministry overseas and in the U.S.

Faithful servant. Dedicated husband, father and grandfather. Ever-learning and growing disciple of his Lord and Savior.

I am profoundly grateful.

    About the Author

  • Susan Lafferty

    Susan and Todd Lafferty spent 27 years in Asia with the International Mission Board. Todd now serves as executive vice president of the IMB. Susan is a writer and blogs at susanlafferty.com.

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