Sometime around the start of my official ministry as a missionary to missionaries a couple of Italian missionaries gave me a book: Vagabonda per il Signore. It was the Italian translation of Corrie ten Boom’s Tramp for the Lord. They gave it to me, saying, “We believe that, like Corrie ten Boom, you will travel well into your old age.
I admit, this was not a word that I received happily. Even though I was not yet a grandmother, I had imagined a retirement of dandling grandchildren on my knee, and occupying a rocking chair on the front porch, watching the world go by. Traveling into old age meant racing to airports, standing in long lines, take-offs and landings in cramped airline seats, in other words: exhausted discomfort.
I had heard of Corrie ten Boom of course, and I had seen the movie of her life: The Hiding Place. I liked Corrie better than her too-good-to-be-true sister, Betsie. Corrie was believable and relatable, though Betsie was arguably the more Christ-like.
I set the book aside, unwilling to expend the energy to read it in Italian or to see myself in the person of Corrie, the elderly traveling missionary. And I got on with my life and ministry.
As the years passed, two wonderful things happened. The first was that I fell in love with my ministry. I fell in love with the ministry because of my love for the missionaries I serve. I now have friends literally all over Europe (and indeed the world). Loving them, praying for them, encouraging them, visiting them, and helping them is one of the greatest joys in my life.
The other wonderful thing that happened is that I became a grandmother. I love being with my grandchildren so much that I forget to take any pictures—something I regret every time I leave them because it would be nice to have more pictures. Of course my son and daughter-in-law are very generous in sharing lots of pictures and videos of the kids. It’s just one of those things: you can never have too many pictures of the grandkids.
Because I first fell in love with the ministry, I couldn’t even consider retiring now. And it’s not that I wouldn’t love to retire and spend more time with my grandchildren. It’s just that my missionaries are precious to me and now I understand the urgency to keep them motivated. Plus, God has told me that while I’m here taking care of His business, He is there, taking care of my family—including my grandchildren (See God’s Gift to a Missionary Grandmother).
This past winter I came across an old copy of The Hiding Place. I read it, finding as always, that I like the book better than the movie. Although the virtuous Betsie is still too-good-to-be-true, I also found Corrie to be even more relatable than before. And soon after finishing it, I came across an old copy of Tramp for the Lord. I began reading it (in English). In its pages, I found Corrie speaking directly to me: missionary-to-missionary. I found that I understand her far better than I had imagined possible. Her motivations are the same as mine: a love for the people God is calling her to serve.
The other night as I was reading her book at bedtime, I learned that Corrie is the only other missionary (that I know of) who God gave the following instruction: “Do not ask people for money.” Fundraising is something that missionaries do. Passing the offering basket when missionaries speak at church is how God allows everyone to participate in missions. I remember thinking that it was strange at the time, but I have been obedient to this word.
As I pondered this amazing fact, the Holy Spirit whispered: “Only someone with extraordinary faith is given this instruction.” And as I let that soak in, He added: “And because of your faith, you are given extraordinary care.” And it’s true! I live in an amazing apartment, way beyond my means, and I have never lacked for anything. I sow and sow into the ministry: I sow all of my income and all of my energy into this ministry—neither is very big, certainly not big enough for the task. And I reap a wonderful harvest of friendships and love. You literally can’t out-give God. God is good!
 I say this because in truth, I was already encouraging missionaries for many years before I even knew that it was ministry.