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Retirees to fill ‘void’ by venturing to Croatia

FLOYDS KNOBS, Ind. (BP)–As Pres Van Horn tells it, “After our travels and being retired, there seemed to be a void. Then the Lord opened up the door for us to go to Croatia.”

David Wood, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Floyds Knobs, Ind., said losing Van Horn, a retired engineer, and his wife, Betty, a retired nurse, to a war-torn country actually is a gain for the couple’s home church.

“It does something for a church,” Wood said, “when they see people leave their homes, a comfortable life and the ease and security that is found here in this country, and go and do something that places them in an insecure position, not an easy place.

“Yet some of the people who stay behind for those things experience an emptiness and really want more from life,” the pastor said, noting, “Jesus promises a fullness of life when we are willing to lay down our lives for his.”

First Southern commissioned the Van Horns April 6 for a two-year assignment in Croatia with the International Service Corps of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. The couple’s primary task will be to coordinate a partnership of Indiana and Croatian Baptists and assist Southern Baptist missionaries in the former Yugoslavian country as needs arise.

“When you think of Pres and Betty,” Wood reflected, “it is obvious God is working in their lives. You don’t come to the perspective on what they are doing apart from God being the energizing agent to bring that to pass.

“How does engineering prepare a man for mission service?” Wood asked, then answered: “That is not preparatory for being missionaries. But what is preparatory for being missionaries is the work of God in your heart. When God begins to work in your heart, he can take things that are on the surface not preparatory and cause them to be integrated in to what he calls you to do.”

Betty, a registered nurse, said she knows her skills will have many applications. Just prior to the commissioning service, she returned from a short-term project at the Baptist Hospital in Bangalore, India.

Croatia, she said, “is where God is leading us. Pres and I have been on mission trips before and we’ve been to Croatia before. We know that at this particular time, this is where God wants us to go and share with the people about the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Asked about the challenges they will face as short-term missionaries, Betty responded, “We know that the Lord will watch over our children and church family. They are in his hands. My greatest challenge is basic language skills.”

The task of partnership coordination will rest primarily with Pres, who will facilitate volunteers going in and out of Croatia and do the administrative work necessary for them to most effectively do their work. He also will do needs assessment so Hoosier Baptists will know how to fill various ministries needs indicated by Croatian Baptist and the Foreign Mission Board missionaries in the country.

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  • John Yeats