7. Broken threads
Broken threads should be discarded, shouldn't they? Knots don't look all that great in fine tapestries. So, weavers don't generally use broken threads. The Bulgarian tapestry is different in that respect. It has some broken threads in it.
Called to missions at age eight, Don Moore prepared to be an agricultural missionary. In the 1970's he and his wife applied for missionary appointment. Charles Morrow, whose story is told in Saint in Overalls, was then an agricultural missionary in Haiti. Because of what Charles Morrow was accomplishing, denominational leaders wanted to appoint other agricultural missionaries.
Of course, no matter their actual job description, every Nazarene missionary's top objective is developing strong national churches. A major priority for Nazarene missionary work is producing leaders for churches and districts. While Don knew agriculture well, he had no college training in religion. So, World Missions leaders suggested he move to Colorado Springs and attend Nazarene Bible College. With the education for ministry he would get there, they said Don and his wife would be prime missionary candidates.
Don quit his job with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. He and his wife packed up and moved to Colorado Springs. Don enrolled in Nazarene Bible College while his wife went to work at a newspaper. After a year and a half there, Don's world fell apart. His wife left him to move in with her boss. In the aftermath of the divorce, she left Don to raise their three boys.
With the failure of his marriage, Don Moore's dream of becoming a missionary died. He dropped out of Bible college and moved to California with his sons. There, he got a job with his uncle's construction business.
At the Nazarene church Don began attending, there was a lovely young lady named Cynthia. She and Don fell in love. They got married and she helped him finish raising his three sons. Then, they started a "second" family by having two baby boys of their own.
One day, Don felt God talking to him again about becoming a missionary. Cynthia also began sensing a similar divine call. Don remembered the World Mission Division's request that he get additional training in religion. So he and Cynthia moved back to central Oklahoma. Don got a job not far from his parents' home. In the fall of 1991, Don arranged his work schedule so he could go back to college. Taking a couple of courses a semester at SNU, he finished his second bachelor's degree in two and half years. This one was in religion and sociology.
When Don started driving the 60 miles from Stillwater to Bethany, he was not bashful about his missionary call. Not long after Don started back to college, a World Mission representative visited SNU. Don and Cynthia went in for an interview. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing meeting.
"You are too old for a missionary appointment," the Moores were told.
Don was already forty-five years old. That was ten years beyond the normal age limit for career missionary appointment. Some find that 35-year age limit prejudicial and discriminatory. There are, however, good reasons for it. One reason is the dropout rate of those going to the field after age thirty-five. The over-35 dropout percentage is much higher than the dropout rate of those arriving on the field before turning thirty-five. From that one perspective, it's much riskier to send a 45-year old to the mission field than it is to send a 30-year old.
However, the infectiously optimistic Don Moore is not easily discouraged. He would not accept a closed door simply because he had celebrated too many birthdays. He pleaded with the World Mission office representative. Finally, he and Cynthia said: "We will go to the mission field even if we have to pay our own way."
As plans moved forward for getting the first volunteers to Bulgaria, a serious look was taken at team makeup. The youthful volunteers already recruited were full of enthusiasm and idealism. For balance, perhaps the team needed at least one mature couple with some life experience. From that perspective, Don and Cynthia were perfect. Don Moore had just earned a religion/sociology degree at SNU's January commencement. Thus, he met that condition for missionary service set down earlier by the World Mission office.
Of course, another way they were qualified for the Bulgarian team concerned financial support. The Moores wanted to become career missionaries. Still, they had said they would go overseas even if they had to provide their own support. So, in early February of 1994, SNU approached Don and Cynthia about joining the youthful volunteers. They were ecstatic. They began soliciting prayer and financial support from friends and family. To buy airline tickets to Sofia, they sold their car. On June 1, with Don decked out in cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat, the Moore family boarded a plane in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Final destination? Sofia, Bulgaria.
In Bulgaria, the Moores have not escaped the problems encountered by those becoming missionaries after age thirty-five. Among other things, Don has struggled with the Bulgaria language and its strange-looking alphabet. Still, by the end of his first year in Bulgaria, he had led five people to the Lord.
Don's long experience with government bureaucracies may be another reason the Lord put him in Bulgaria. Not long after the Moores arrived in Bulgaria, Hermann Gschwandtner asked Don to get the foundation legally registered. As they began the registration process, a deadline of July 30 was set for filing the legal paperwork. Even if he met that deadline, people told Don not to expect a quick answer. It would take months, they said. For one thing, Bulgarian government offices are virtually closed during August and much of September.
By a series of miracles they turned the paperwork in on July 20. Long-time observers told them to sit back and wait. A key person in that approval process was Bulgaria's chief justice. On July 25 that man died of a heart attack. But, as they later discovered, a miraculous thing had happened. Prior to his death, the chief justice had signed the paperwork submitted by Don Moore.
Another person that needed to approve the application was a cabinet minister. On July 27 the prime minister and his entire cabinet resigned. Everything except routine stuff was put on hold. New elections were scheduled for the fall. Amazingly, just hours before relinquishing his office, the cabinet minister had signed the Nazarenes' application. Thus, a process that normally took months was completed in five days!
Had the approval not come so quickly, it would have taken months. With the government in crisis, only the most routine decisions were being made. Everything else waited until the new parliament took office and a new prime minister was installed. Appointing a new chief justice waited until all that was completed.
At one point Hermann Gschwandtner said: "If we get the Church of the Nazarene established in Bulgaria, it will be because of Don Moore."
The Bulgarian tapestry wonderfully shows what God can do with broken threads! . . . [ continue reading ]
|These young people grew up in single family dwellings in small towns. They played in lush grassy back yards. In Sofia, they live in bland, badly-maintained apartment buildings with very little grass in sight. Most of the volunteers owned a car in the U.S. In Bulgaria they had to walk everywhere. . . . [ read more ]|