The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92:12-15
As I share with numerous audiences my experiences from years of ministry in Asia, I often try to drive home the point that the Church in China teaches us that you can never be too young and never too old to serve Jesus.
Our Western church culture marginalizes youths until they have finished some level of higher education. And even worse, we marginalize those who are retired as now being “over the hill” and only fit to sit in a rocking chair for whatever years remain for them.
But repeatedly in the Old Testament, there are references to the elderly “still bearing fruit in old age!” And the persecuted church is replete with stories and testimonies giving evidence.
In 1997 I wrote a booklet titled Great Bible Women of China in which I share the story of five elderly Chinese Bible Women who completed long fruitful lives of service, finishing strong.
In his book, Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity, veteran Vietnam missionary, Reg Reimer, shares the remarkable story of diminutive Mrs. Diep Thi Do. She and her pastor husband served as missionaries among the Stieng tribal people for twenty years. Just before Vietnam fell in 1975, her husband was captured by the communists and was never heard from again. She then did not dare do any tribal ministry except pray.
In 1981, emerging from the deep underground during the darkest years, she encountered some very discouraged Stieng Christians in the market. They begged her to be their missionary and pastor. She considered this a strong call from God and courageously called the Stieng back into church groups. She often “stared down” resistance from communist authorities. She presided over the building of the largest church sanctuary in Vietnam. She performed all pastoral functions including marrying, burying, appointing leaders and administering the sacraments. Her bravery and her spiritual authority ensured that no one ever challenged her operating essentially as a bishop.
Reg Reimer concludes, “She described herself as ‘only a little woman.’ But her faith and trust in God made her a giant in the lives of thousands of Stieng Christians she had served for fifty-five years. More than four thousand came to attend her funeral and celebrate her life when she died at age eighty-four in 2008.” You can never be too old to serve Jesus!
RESPONSE: Today I will acknowledge that disciples of Jesus can be useful for Him at any age—especially in their elderly years.
PRAYER: Pray that elderly believers will realize the giftedness they have and can continue to utilize.
1. Reg Reimer, Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2011), p. 60.