|Callie (in striped shirt) and I (in white shirt) with the women at one of the churches in Mozambique |
(Ingreja Alianca de Mocambique)
I remember the day I met her.
Her reputation preceded her: a prophetic woman who was married to Keir, a graceful lady that bore a no-nonsense approach to evangelism. She believed that if a Christian testified what God had done for them it would be easy for others to listen - I believed the same thing.
Her name was Callie and I called her Snow White behind her back. It wasn’t just because she looked like the Disney princess, with shocking black hair, creamy white skin and red lips that were always smiling. It was also because she was such a supportive force for her husband, gently supporting him as he went to claim the pearls of great price in the mission field. Callie had a dreamy grace that made me want to be like her. She also liked me, which makes it easy to be friends with someone.
We met on a trip into Mozambique, in a village just north of Maputo. The local pastors were organizing a big tent revival and asked Keir and his team to come and host an “outreach”. We visited the churches on the Sunday before the weekend, our team meeting the pastors and their wives before we started working together. I was surprised that Keir and Callie asked Mario and I to accompany them to the church we went to, but we gladly went.
“We may be asked to go fetch bread,” Callie whispered to me just outside the church building. It must have been a thousand degrees Fahrenheit and I was already dripping in sweat.
“Where is the bakery?” I asked, crystals of perspiration already sliding off my face.
“I hope it is not far,” Callie said, smiling mischievously. We both giggled, like sisters. Was I that obvious? I didn't want to walk far in that heat and I knew it fall to the women to schlep the whole load of bread back to the church for the after-service.
We found the bakery, mercifully only a few hundred meters down the road. The baker was expecting us and already had a few plastic bags ready for us to take away. I was grateful, but sticky when we arrived back at the church.
“Why aren’t you sweating?” I finally asked Callie, who seemed embarrassed by the question.
“Believe me, I am,” she answered.
“I can’t tell,” I said. The observation made Callie laugh. “I’m sure not used to this heat.” I would have fanned myself if I had a free hand. I was still used to being in Africa.
The trip was groundbreaking for Mario and I. It was the first trip we had with Keir and Callie and we were greatly impressed by their marriage and their desire to serve God together. They seemed inseparable, but I l later found out that Callie and Keir were no strangers to separation. During a time of conversation that evening, Keir and Callie told us their story. Their words spilled out like diamonds as we listened. They had spent the early years of their marriage with Keir in the army and then later years with him on the road and Callie home with the kids. Keir was a man that was famous for his crusades, evangelizing tirelessly with teams, going in and out of Sub-Saharan Africa.
“You seem so close,” I confessed to her later. “You don’t seem bitter about all the separation you had to go through…” I wanted my marriage to Mario be selfless, but I didn’t think we could be the kind of couple that still filled with intimacy and tenderness, like theirs seemed to be.
“We are close,” she told me. “But it is because God has caused that. I’ve supported Keir in this ministry and God has given me the grace to be without him when he’s gone.”
“I don’t know if I could do it,” I said.
Callie only smiled. “Well, has God asked you to?”
I thought about the question long and hard. I was a little relieved that the answer was no. God never asked me to surrender Mario to long, solitary trips or be on long trips without me. I was glad that He hadn’t, I hated separation.
The Mozambique trip was not our only trip together; it wasn’t our only ministry together. I loved ministry with Keir and Callie – it was so honest, so refreshing.
One of the reasons I love it is because Callie is one of the most unique mentors I have in my life. She doesn’t try to teach, she just naturally imparts love and wisdom just by being herself. I love who she is because of the love she has for others, and for me. I also love the way she teaches me.
The Bible says “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11). For our mentors, this is true. They have a way of teaching that doesn't feel like we’re being taught, only that we are being befriended.