Monday, August 3, 2015

LEGACY

When I graduated from seminary last year, I won the Conway/Maxwell Memorial Missions Award and the monetary prize that came with it. I have the tremendous privilege of attending church with one of the people for whom that award is named, Leaan Maxwell. At 97 years old, he is the oldest member of my church. A few weeks ago, Lauren and I were presenting about our ministry to Leaan’s Sunday School class. Afterwards, he told me, with tears in his eyes, how meaningful it was to hear that someone who had received his award was going into missions.

Leaan never served as a career missionary himself; he was the bookkeeper for Denver Seminary for most of his career. His interest in missions started with a short-term trip he took to Africa. He became passionate about supporting God’s global mission and set up this award as one of his many contributions to that end. He is extraordinarily humble and unassuming, but the impact that he has had for God’s kingdom is remarkable. I am so proud that I have gotten to meet Leaan and that I get to be a part of his legacy.


Here’s another story. Last month, I had a couple of phone conversations with Jack, whom I had not met before. Jack first became interested in missions when he was stationed at an Air Force base in Okinawa, Japan. He developed friendships with workers and missionary pastors there. Jack’s parents—J. Forrest Gee, Jr. and Dixie M. Gee—caught the same enthusiasm for God’s global church that their son had. Though they never served as career missionaries, they dedicated much of their time, energy and resources to missions.

Jack found out that Lauren and I are preparing to serve in Cambodia, and he contacted me. He told me that his mother requested that a portion of her estate be given to support missions. Jack wanted to honor her request by putting the gift toward the ministry Lauren and I are doing in Cambodia. Though I never met Forrest and Dixie Gee, I am proud to be a part of their legacy.

These stories have gotten me thinking about legacy. Leaan Maxwell and Forrest and Dixie Gee didn’t need to move across the world in order to leave behind a legacy. Rather, they looked for extraordinary ways to advance God’s global mission through their ordinary lives. They did this in ways that will make a difference well past their earthly lives and, I hope, well past my earthly life.

I have been challenged to take my own legacy seriously. I don’t necessarily hope to be well known in my lifetime. I hope only to leave something behind that will make a difference for others as they seek to live out God’s kingdom. If I succeed in this, it will only be because others invested their legacy in me.