A Powerful Partnership

Tags: SEND North, Story

This past week we said goodbye to a beloved member of our mission's family, Carolyn King. At her funeral Carl Kresge delivered a heartfelt and accurate tribute. We are sharing that transcript as an encouragement to the majority who serve the Lord in the background of ministry.  May this tribute inspire us to follow Carolyn's example as she followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 ):

On behalf of SEND International, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Dwayne and the family. To lose someone as much-loved as Carolyn hurts deeply. Death stinks. But for those of us who are followers of Jesus and have had our sins forgiven by Him, death has lost its sting. Death has been swallowed up in victory! That phrase brings back wonderful memories of Dwayne leading us in singing “O Victory in Jesus!” We can only imagine the victory in Jesus that our dear Carolyn is rejoicing in at this very moment!

I also want to say a huge thank you, to all of you relatives and close friends of Carolyn – for the decades of faithful service that she gave to SEND’s ministries in Alaska, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Now some might ask, “Why would I thank you, her siblings, her kids, her grandkids, her nieces, and nephews, etc.?” Because of what Jesus told us in Matthew 19:29 – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Yes, Carolyn did the leaving. So this promise from Jesus is for her. But all of you got the other end of the deal. You got left. Having a loved one leave for the mission field is hard. It’s a sacrifice. And for those of you who made that sacrifice, and supported her and prayed for her and gave financially so that she could go and encouraged her – a heart-felt thank you from SEND International for your part in the huge impact she and Dwayne have had over these many years.

I think probably the thing that impressed me most about Carolyn is that she wasn’t the one who felt called to front-lines missionary work in some hard places and different cultures around the world. That was Dwayne. You know what she did? One day she put her life on the altar. Not before Dwayne. Before God. She dedicated her life to taking the good news of Jesus to the nations. And in that dedication, she agreed to go with Dwayne wherever that took them.

I doubt she had a clue that was going to take her to such hard places as a far-away village in the bush in Alaska or a meager apartment in Far East Russia where the strange language and different culture would be a stress every single day for years or a small town in Kazakhstan with yet another language and culture. But God’s calling and Dwayne did take her there. And she went. Faithfully.

Dwayne and Carolyn didn’t move to Russia because they longed for the adventure of learning another language or because they had fallen in love with the Russian culture and traditions or because they were enamored with the Russian people. They moved to Russia, leaving house and family and possessions, for Jesus’ sake. They moved to Russia out of an unswerving love for Jesus and in obedience to His command to take God’s glory to the nations.

Both of them did that. And I respect both of them very highly. But from one perspective, I’d say I might admire Carolyn’s obedience and commitment even more. Dwayne, I hope you understand what I’m saying. You know how much I love and respect you. You know how thankful I am that God orchestrated our paths to cross back there in Khabarovsk in 1995 and how you’ve been one of the greatest blessings God has given me in the 21 years since, working side by side in the harvest field. Your faith has inspired me on many occasions. But when I look at Carolyn, and her unique personality and gifts, and her introverted nature ... when I look at how God made her, I respect her so highly as a woman of faith who faithfully followed her God (and her man), to the ends of the earth — even when there was very little in those places to draw her and a whole lot of things in those places that were quite the opposite. 

She didn’t have a propensity for adventure like you, Dwayne. She wasn’t drawn to the new and different. It wasn’t her nature to always want to conquer the next mountain. She wasn’t energized by people. But in her quiet, introverted, uncomplaining spirit, she followed. She obeyed. She demonstrated her love for her Savior. What a model of a woman sold out to her God and committed to her husband!

Dwayne told me that many young men who have come through Kingdom Air Corps had told him that they are praying that when God gives them a wife to serve with them on the mission field, they hope that wife is like Carolyn!

I regret that my wife, Lori, couldn’t be here today. She was a friend of Carolyn. And she was a fan of Carolyn. She really resonated with Carolyn’s personality and ways of relating. She appreciated so much how comfortable Carolyn made her feel around her, how Carolyn encouraged her and pointed out strengths in her that she couldn’t see in herself. But if Lori were here, she would tell you that the thing she appreciated more than anything about Carolyn was her walk with God. She loved how eager Carolyn was to talk about God, about who He was to them and what He had done in them, about how His strength was made perfect in their weakness. She was so inspired by Carolyn’s letters to our ladies in Eurasia, where she would share gems from the Word that she had been learning in her quiet times. (Dwayne, I’ve got several comments from some of our ladies about what Carolyn meant to them – but for the sake of time I’ll not share them now, but pass them on to you later.) Lori recalls one time chuckling together with Carolyn about both of their shy natures and how that didn’t stop God from pushing them beyond themselves – which was a perfect set up for God to get the glory because anything good that would come from their lives would clearly be only God’s work.

Lori spoke at Dwayne and Carolyn’s retirement party, and here’s what she said about Carolyn:

"Carolyn, what I respect about you the most is the heart that God has created in you for Him. I think the description of that is beautifully wrapped up in this quote that I took from one of the emails that you sent out to our Eurasia ladies. And while this is not yet perfected in our lives, I believe it is certainly our united heart cry to God – to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind.

"If you love Him as I want you to do, you will offer Him the whole use of your day as you open your eyes to the light of each morning, to be spent in active service or silent suffering, according to His good pleasure. You will not select the most agreeable task, but His task, whatever it may be; you will not disdain humble service, or be ambitious for distinguished service; you will lie, like a straw, on the current of His will, to be swept away and be forgotten, if it pleases Him, or to be caught up by His mighty hand and transformed thereby into a thunderbolt."

That quote describes Carolyn so well! SEND is richer, and God’s Kingdom work further because of Carolyn. We thank God for her life – her life lived not for herself but for her Savior.  – Carl Kresge, October 9, 2016

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