The following is an interview with Miriam G.- a retired chaplain who had been working overseas in Africa for 27 years. She lost her husband Fred, a missionary worker two years ago, who partnered with her during their careers. Caring and sharing heartache, and joy while working side by side and personally. They experienced hardships, as well as various triumphs during their time there. Caring for children, encouraging families, organizing food drives, getting them medical care, securing housing huts, bed supplies, and just about everything else in between to care for these individuals. At times they were even plumbers, electricians, maintenance workers, all in a day’s work.
They were equally yoked together in their love of God and following His will for their lives. It was a calling that reached deep within their hearts. The LORD offered guidance and endless provisions, along with blessings on their marriage, and their respective careers. This is a poignant brief look at their overall roles, and a smidgeon of what they entailed along the way. It was my infinite pleasure to interview Miriam, especially about the love of God, and how mightily he moved in their lives. Hope you enjoy the condensed version of what a chaplain and missionary does overseas. It would have been impossible to put together an article showcasing the numerous demands of this job and calling. That will have to wait for a book. But for now, here is the interview of Miriam G. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading and God Bless.
CD: Good morning, Miriam, and thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Miriam: Good morning, of course.
CD: Can you tell us when you became a chaplain. And what lead you to working overseas in Africa?
Miriam: Yes, of course. Prior to being a chaplain, I was a medical underwriter in a big well known insurance company. (She laughed heartily here) Big career switch, from medical underwriter to chaplain that’s for sure!
CD: I’d have to agree with that statement.
Miriam: Anyhow, let’s see it was a little over 20 years into the job, that I was getting restless in the role of medical underwriting. During church one Sunday, I’d felt a strong stirring in my heart to help, counsel and be there for individuals who needed help, but most especially to pray and teach God’s Word. So, I spoke with my pastor, and long story short, after prayer and doors opening, I became a chaplain. I met my husband Fred pretty late in life. I was about to turn forty. God’s plans can be complicated if one takes time to really overthink it. But for me, it was simple, Fred came into my life just at the right time. He was already a missionary overseas. We fell in love, and the rest is history as it is said. It wasn’t for one of the big groups, you know like Samaritan’s Purse, or Compassion of Christ. It was organized by local organizations and merchants in my area, mainly insurance companies believe it or not. But meeting Fred was one of the biggest perks about the new job. Our love was almost instantaneous, in fact it was. I fell for him as soon as he said, ‘haven’t I seen you somewhere before?’ I laughed and thought, boy with a line that old fashioned, he must be a keeper! And he certainly was.
CD: Aww, that is so amazing. Wow! God’s timing is always on “time” isn’t it?
Miriam: Amen. Well, I immediately resigned from my job, to become a chaplain. And then joined my husband in the overseas jaunt. It was a different way of living, but it grew on me, and I came alive while there. I can’t explain it. I just came alive, and felt the Presence of God, so strongly. It was my calling, and Fred’s too. I was filled with the Spirit of Christ so much so, that it was a peaceful existence even during the rough or uncomfortable times.
CD: Tell us about Fred. Who stole your heart at the right time, what should the reader’s know about him?
Miriam: Oh Fred. (She sighed and smiled) What can I say about this wonderfully kind, passionate loving man? Let’s see. He was my soulmate, and my number one fan. We were suited perfectly, he was funny and free spirited, and I was a little more serious and methodical. But offered each other encouragement where we could, and when we could. We complimented the other. He was handsome as they come, had a crooked smile, that was so adorable. He had dimples, a deep voice, and he was a godly man. He was a good man. And he was the love of my life. But I think what made me love him so much was how much he loved serving God and God’s children. His love for God reflected in everything he did, and it was contagious. The light from him would shine, and others would feel it and want what he had too.
CD: So sweet. Sounds like you had an excellent marriage, and perfect recipe to happiness. Fred sounds like he was quite a gentleman, and you both loved each other so much, not many people have that kind of marriage. You and Fred clearly did.
Miriam: Yes, we did. The reason I truly believe we worked so well as a couple was it was important for us to put God first in our marriage. And putting God before all things. Sharing in helping the healthy and sick children and their families in Africa, allowed for a great deal of satisfaction in accomplishing God’s will for our lives. It was an unforgettable experience and journey.
CD: Miriam, can you speak of some of the bad times and good times? If you are willing, and share that with us?
Miriam: I’ll start with the bad. Each year we had to find enough money to continue our work there, and to help the children thrive, health wise, and get educated. But mainly to bring them to Christ. The Bible aspect at times was difficult, because there were certain families in the area that still practiced superstitious practices or believed in magic. And didn’t want their children attending Bible school. Some were leery of “our presence” so it could be difficult at times. And frustrating. However, the majority of the children welcomed God in their lives, and enjoyed church, and praying. And they loved being with us. They called us “Auntie and Uncle,” and were very open with us, especially after they knew we wouldn’t be leaving but staying on in Africa. We did return to the States about twice a year, but for short periods of time. Our home for the most part was in Africa.
CD: What about the good times?
Miriam: The good times were plentiful. Seeing the children graduate each year to another grade. Seeing their dreams and aspirations come true. Seeing them turning into young women and young men from little children, watching them grow into God loving individuals, it was so rewarding. And celebrating their birthdays with them, by making special cakes and their favorite foods, it was grand and yet so simple. But there was an abundance of love all around that Fred and I shared with them, and their families. In fact, they were all our family. We never had children, but we had many children all at once! We never regretted living there, and being a part of their lives.
CD: That’s sweet. Miriam, so when you prayed with them and the families, it was welcomed am I correct in that assumption?
Miriam: Yes, it was a Christian program, and there were sponsors for the children who gave monthly dues, and those who weren’t sponsored were taken care of as well. Not one was overlooked, and we loved them all equally. No one was above the other. All equal, as the Lord wants it to be. No separation, all beautiful in their unique ways, and styles. We loved every one of them, truly all of them.
CD: Wow, that right there what you just said, just brought up Jesus’ saying “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 18:7).
Miriam: Yes, exactly! Amen. And they were loved. We adored each and every one of them. Fred used to tell them jokes, and at first, they didn’t understand, but then they eventually got very accustomed to “Uncle Fred’s” humor. The equivalent of bad dad jokes. (Laughing, she touched her heart). Oh, how I miss him, what an absolute joy he was.
CD: May I ask how he passed away?
Miriam: He didn’t feel well and said he wanted to rest. So, I said, go to it, I’ll wake you for lunch. That lunch was never to be eaten. When I went in to wake him some 3 hours later, he was gone. I called 911, but knew it was too late. The LORD had taken him in his sleep. So, although I was shocked and mourned deeply, I was so blessed. In fact, the two of us were. Not only was he taken peacefully in his sleep, but we had such a beautiful life together. It was a fabulous life. And we found each other, and God’s will WAS done. The autopsy revealed an aneurysm burst in his brain, killing him instantly. He never knew what hit him. He awoke in Heaven seeing Jesus’ face. A blessing and Heaven’s gain.
CD: So sorry for your loss, but as you’ve just said Miriam, we know that is a blessing. Peacefully called home, never suffered. And you had so much love between the two of you.
Miriam: I’ve only one regret in life. That I didn’t start younger at being a chaplain. And that Fred and I never had children. But then, that wouldn’t have been God’s will or plan. So, I go back and forth on that. After all, I am in the flesh, and my spirit battles with the flesh all the time. And those regrets are two that come to battle quite often. I’ll sit and think, why didn’t I meet him when I was younger? Why didn’t we have at least one child? And then I’ll say, sorry Lord, that wasn’t your plan. You planned it just as it was, and it was a great plan overall!
CD: As you’ve said it was God’s will and timing. If you had children, you probably never would have been able to travel to Africa to be a chaplain. Or at the very least, it would have made it exceedingly challenging on top of everything else Right?
Miriam: Yes, I’ve thought that too, many a night all by myself in this big old quiet house.
CD: What’s next in Miriam’s life?
Miriam: I’m going to volunteer my time in nursing homes and hospitals, offer my services to those who want prayers and counsel. I do want to add for your readers, that the times we prayed for those sick in Africa, and for those waiting for doctor’s help, was truly special. It was a privilege to be serving them, but most especially serving our God. And that is something I will NEVER regret. Speaking God’s Word over them, and feeling God’s Spirit with us, it is something truly beyond explanation. And one of the best experiences of my entire lifetime, for sure. Having Fred with me just was the icing on the cake. Blessed beyond blessed.
CD: Amen! Miriam, thank you so much for this time. God created a special woman and man in you and Fred. He knew where you’d do well, and you both were obedient to His plans and will. I guess we can conclude on your words that you were blessed beyond blessed.
Miriam: Do you mind if we close with a prayer?
CD: Yes, please.
Miriam: “Lord, we just want to give You all the glory and praise, Lord we thank You for Your endless provisions, Your love and guidance, and for Your perfect timing and plans, Lord, we know that You are in control, and we know that you can do anything and everything, and Lord we declare Christ’ victory over all those in trouble, and all those suffering in the world today, and Lord we ask You to speak to those who don’t know You, that you bring them to Your door, and may we each do our part to carry out Your plans, today and always, in Jesus’ name, all glory and honor are Yours almighty Father, forever and always, Amen and Amen.”
CD: Amen! That was beautiful Miriam! Thank you for that closing prayer, and God Bless you.
Miriam: God Bless you too. Please come by anytime, any time at all.
CD: Thank you kindly, I will. It’s been so special to spend this time with you.
Isaiah 14:24-The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
Jeremiah 29:11– For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.