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Retired couple joins IMB on and off the field (at the same time)

MESA, Ariz. (BP) – The retirement years are usually viewed as a time to enjoy a break from years of hard work. For Joe and Wanda Kord*, retirement was a time for a new kind of work as they followed the Lord’s leading to volunteer with the International Mission Board in West Africa.

Rather than leasing or selling their home in Mesa, Ariz., the couple decided to open their home to missionaries visiting Arizona. Through a partnership with two churches and the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, for three years, the Kords’ home has been a welcome place for missionaries on stateside assignment. Meanwhile, God has led the Kords to serve on mission in the U.S. and in West Africa.

The initial assignment for Wanda in West Africa was to manage the guesthouse used by missionaries as a stopover during travels and as a hostel for volunteer teams on short-term mission trips. Joe’s job was to do building maintenance on the mission compound. About a year into their service, long-term personnel changes and security threats caused their roles to change.

“We thought we would do something different from the roles we had in the U.S. in teaching and business management,” Wanda said, “but in God’s perfect timing, He led us to use those very skills.”

Wanda had turned down offers to work at a school for missionary kids when she first arrived in country, so she could focus on the needs at the guesthouse. However, as the year progressed, heightened security and safety concerns meant fewer visitors to the guesthouse. Around this time, the American international school, which educates students from a variety of backgrounds and religions, offered her a position. There, Wanda had the opportunity to share the love and hope of Christ with people who had not yet heard this Good News.

Joe arrived with no expectations of managing major strategies on the mission field.

“I was happy to just be a maintenance worker who could be productive and get things done,” he said.

Missionary Joe Kord arranged for local partners to trade their motorcycles for bicycles to make them less intimidating to villagers.

But when the logistics coordinator unexpectedly left the country, Joe’s business management experience allowed him to fill a critical need at just the right time. With security threats rising, outsiders were bringing greater scrutiny from the local government. Local partners were called upon to take the lead in sharing the Gospel and discipling local believers.

The motorcycles used by many local partners caused them to be perceived as dangerous, so Joe put his business experience to use to manage the logistics of switching out motorcycles for bicycles so that local believers could continue to go to the six church plants in the surrounding area.

In October 2020, the Kords returned to Arizona and to their home that had hosted many missionaries over the past three years. When they opened the door, they found a house that was deep cleaned, with a stocked pantry and welcome-home treats.

“We went to [West Africa] on our own dime, but we have seen again that you cannot out give God,” Joe said.

*Names changed for security

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  • Arizona SBC Staff