Two weeks ago, on a Friday morning, I attended church in Kigali, Rwanda. Not “church” as you might imagine. Essentially it was more like a community group or small group. It was composed of approximately 25 Rwandan males and females, some of the many leaders and community support workers associated with the The Wellspring Foundation for Education. Scripture was read. There was insightful and thoughtful discussion. Hymns were sung. And oh, how they were sung!
It was my first trip to Rwanda. But it was my husband, Claudio’s, seventh visit, in his capacity as a consultant to Wellspring.
Initially, Claudio was uncertain and perhaps even a bit nervous about serving in Rwanda, but Wellspring’s mission and purpose quickly ignited his passion.
Wellspring’s mission is not to take over or to provide the staff for its school or for the schools it assists, but rather to build capacity in Rwandan educational leaders. Empowering leaders enhances the quality of Rwandan education, an investment in one of Rwanda’s greatest assets – the lives of their children.
Claudio’s journey to Rwanda all started over three years ago when some very dear friends, who have been involved with Wellspring for years, came to our home for lunch. During lunch they approached Claudio about becoming involved with the Wellspring Foundation. They indicated that the Foundation had been seeking someone with his educational background, skill set and experience. They were aware that he had just retired from his position as Superintendent of a large metro school district and believed the timing was providential. They were convicted that he would be a perfect fit with Wellspring.
Initially he was caught off guard by the job application that they slid across the table towards him. So he tried to ignore it. And while they were still in the midst of discussing their proposal, he stood up, left the table, and started clearing the table and washing the dishes.
Our youngest son, Michael, challenged his father and called him to come back to the table and to at least give a fair hearing to what our friends were proposing.
Such uncertainty or apprehension can stem from the unexpected and unknown. Especially when we are confronted with new perspectives or new possibilities.
This is how it was for Claudio. At first he was unsettled by the idea. He had never considered the possibility of becoming involved with international education after his retirement. And never, ever, had he imagined himself traveling to Rwanda by himself.
But again, Michael encouraged his father to view his retirement from a different perspective. It appeared that God planned to use Claudio’s education, experiences, and leadership to improve the quality of education in some other parts of his kingdom. Michael suggested that perhaps Claudio need to view his retiring as the superintendent of a large school district not as the culmination of his career, but only what God had been using all along to prepare Claudio for his most significant service – contributing as a consultant for Wellspring and to enhancing education for children in Rwanda.
Since that time Claudio and I have grown to understand that often a person’s best work, with the possibility of greatest service for God’s kingdom, is achieved later in life. This is because some tasks require the depth and breadth of knowledge, skills and wisdom that can only be gathered through many years of life and work experiences.
In some ways it is similar to good wine or fruit. For it is only through being exposed to the seasons, year after year, they are gradually able to reach their fullest growth and maturity. And in the autumn season, it is the ideal time to harvest the fruit because the crop is at its ripest.
God desires to use each of us, for his purposes, right through to the end of our lives. For it is in these final years, when we at the height of our experience, skill and wisdom that we may actually be the most productive in helping to prosper God’s kingdom and mentor his people.
As we transition into different phases of our lives it is comforting to rest in the knowledge God has exciting plans about how to use each of us even into the autumns of our lives. So be open to new possibilities and adventures. Volunteer. Mentor. Go on a mission. Consult. Contribute. And maybe, just like Claudio and I, you will find yourself on an exciting new adventure, serving in ways you’d never imagined and worshiping in a church and country as beautiful as Rwanda.