Zambia missionary says life is a mission field (Jan. 28, 2004)



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Zambia missionary says life is a mission field

Jan. 28, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140   
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0014}

An e-Review Feature

Zambia is the last place the Winter Park man expected to find himself.

By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND - Delbert and Sandy Groves were perfectly content to reside in Winter Park, worship at Aloma United Methodist Church there and toil away at their publishing company until an African missionary turned their world upside down when he spoke at their church in 1981.

After learning of the need for commercial publishing machinery and publishing machinists Delbert Groves was asked if he would consider living and working in Africa. Thinking all the pieces of his life, mainly career and family, would never fall into place and allow him to become a full-time missionary, Groves said yes.

One month later the missions committee at Aloma United Methodist Church presented him with two planes tickets to Africa to get an idea of the living conditions, the people and type of work he would be doing there.

"The Lord was speaking to us," Groves recalled of arriving in Africa for a two-week stay. "It was an interesting time. I didn't know what to expect. Once we got there, there were no roads. The agriculture and clinics that you see on television, that's what we saw. I was in total awe about it. It was so far out of my league."

While Groves felt he was emotionally and spiritually out of his league to become a missionary, he said he found out he was exactly where the Lord wanted him to be. The son of a Wesleyan pastor who served in St. Croix, Groves grew up in the West Indies and knew the life of a missionary, yet he never suspected this was the life for him.

"The whole summer was intense," he said. "I was thinking about the mortgage, the house, the business, family, health, kids, and I kept coming back to, 'Lord, if you can use me, I will consider doing this.' "

Fast forward 10 years and the Groveses find themselves living and working as missionaries in Zambia. The couple originally settled in another African country, but was relocated due to war and unrest in the region.

"I sold my business, New Creation Publishing, and our home, and off we went," Delbert Groves said. "I had told the Lord, if he could use me, I will consider doing this if he worked out some things in my life. I know that God will keep every last promise he has ever made in your life."

Groves said living and serving God in a foreign land is not the calling for everyone.

"We're all missionaries. You don't have to go to seminary or be a person of great stature," he said. "God's gift to us is life. Our gift to God is what we do with it. It's about others. God talks to us all the time. We just have to be sure we are listening to what the Lord is saying."

Either on another continent or within the United States, Groves said it is an exciting time to be a Christian. While on home assignment visiting churches he has been encouraging Christians to leave their comfort zones.

Since they've been home the Groveses have logged 20,000 miles traveling to more than 130 churches in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Texas to tell their story of how God took them out of all they had known and gave them a new life to reach people for Jesus Christ. The message they are spreading is that everyone can do missions.

"It's about others. It's about the people in the pews," Delbert Groves said. "I want to work myself out of a job. Missions is all about planting the seed of Jesus Christ in people. I think the church should go from maintenance mode to mission's mode."

One mode, or thing, Groves has learned while in Africa is that God is universal. "It doesn't have to be the American way or the European way," he said. "As long as Christ is the center, it doesn't matter the color, culture or tongue. We just have to let God be God."

For more information on the Groves' ministry go to http://www.gbgm-umc.org/newlife-zambia/jan04leaving.html.

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This article relates to Missions.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




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