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Deep Gladness

Attend a Baptist church during December and you’ll likely hear a compelling story from someone God has called to a specific ministry somewhere else in the world. Missionaries add special meaning to Advent and Christmas.

Attend a Baptist church during December and you’ll likely hear a compelling story from someone God has called to a specific ministry somewhere else in the world. Missionaries add special meaning to Advent and Christmas. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Equally compelling, however, should be the calls we individually feel from God. Hearing the stories of others reminds us of the sacredness of our own calls and challenges us to live those calls faithfully and effectively whether we serve primarily in the classroom, the boardroom, the hospital room or the family room.   
 
Many years ago, Bill Austin was a clerk in a <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Minnesota hearing-aid repair shop. Seeing the expressions of joy and delight on the faces of children who, for the first time, could hear, convinced him to make “fixing broken ears” his life’s work.
 
While he has worked with everyone from presidents to Hollywood celebrities to improve their hearing, his greatest accomplishment is his Starkey Hearing Foundation, begun in 1973.
 
Through some 150 annual missions to impoverished countries, specialists fit needy people with free hearing aids—some 600,000 so far. Austin’s devices allow people to hear in more than 90 percent of the cases.
 
Besides giving away hearing instruments and batteries, the Foundation promotes hearing-health awareness and supports and conducts research and education on hearing healthcare.
 
“This is the best work we could ever do because it’s helping people … and that’s what life is all about,” Austin says. “We truly live through what we give—we live on into the future through our gifts back into our community and to humanity.”
 
Austin’s philosophy affirms that of Richard Bolles, career expert and author of the best-selling What Color Is Your Parachute? Bolles also holds a master’s degree in New Testament studies.
 
“If you see yourself as sent into the world by God to do a work He’s given you to do, then what the marketplace is asking for and salary levels are … irrelevant. It only conditions the form of your service, but not what the task is that you ultimately do”
 
“You shouldn’t be trying to do a work for God if that means you have to leave all your gifts by the wayside while you do it,” Bolles advises. “There’s something wrong with saying, ‘I’m doing this for God, but I hate it.'”
 
Bill Austin of the Starkey Foundation believes: “This is my gift. It’s what I can do for the world.”
 
Frederick Buechner had it right: “Vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
 
May you find deep gladness as you meet the world’s deep needs where you serve God.
 
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.
 
Click here to order Leading Churches into 21st Century Missions: 13 Lessons in Acts from Acacia Resources.
 
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