Worth It All
“Missions is a tag-team relay.”
God has gone before us and will continue to work through others after us.
What a humbling way to begin this journey.
Today, we had the opportunity to sit and chat with a generation that came before us and worked in Central African Republic.
Richard and Dorothy McMillen worked with Baptist Mid-Mission as church planters. Dorothy was also involved in ministry to women and children, especially education. Their children grew up knowing French and Sango as well as (and sometimes better than) English. To this day, they do their daily devotions in French and practice the French and Sango Scripture passages they’ve memorized. Many years ago, the McMillens charted a very similar path to ours – language school in Paris before arriving at a Francophone Africa assignment.
In Central African Republic, the McMillen’s commitment to learning the heart language of the people they were there to serve, rather than just speaking French, made an incredible impact on those around them. CAR was a French colony at that time, and the French government leaders refused to learn Sango. The fact that the McMillens were willing to learn their language opened doors in many people’s hearts.
The McMillens called their first post a “boonie” post, with no conveniences or instruction. Their survival depended on the help of the Africans! They learned everything through doing life with the people around them. Portions of Scripture were available in Sango at that time, but the McMillens worked to put literature, Bible studies, and tracts into the heart language of the people.
Many times in our conversation, the McMillens were encouraged to hear how different the preparations for missionaries are today. We explained all the training that our kids have been through – learning about transitions, change, cultures, new foods, and languages. They are excited to hear that the whole family will be fluent in French before arriving on the field and that we’ve already learned a bit about tropical diseases and food preparation! (Thank you, Wycliffe Bible Translators and JAARS!)
Richard struggled with multiple rounds of malaria, and amoebic dysentery eventually forced the couple to return to the states so that Dorothy could recover completely. After moving to the D.C. area, they continued their ministry to young people and were able to use their knowledge of Sango to build relationships with Central Africans in America!
It’s amazing to hear a couple in their 90’s saying that not a moment spent for the Kingdom was wasted. Every bout of amoebic dysentery and malaria were worth it to have even one African young person say, “I’d like to learn more about the Bible.”
“I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything in this life,” Richard McMillen told us. “I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going.”