MABANK?For the Schieffer family, a desire to serve outside their church walls has led them down a path of blessings and hardship, yet in every circumstance they testify of “simply following God’s will.”
An unexpected departure from the mission field, a battle with cancer, and closed doors to an immediate return to overseas work would for some people be reason enough to doubt their call or deter them from pursuing open doors for ministry. However, for Eddie and Kelly Schieffer of Mabank, they view their experiences as “an opportunity to learn to trust God and trust in his nature that he is faithful,” Kelly Schieffer said.
God started to place a call in Eddie Schieffer’s life in March 2007 as he visited the International Mission Board website in search of a family summer camp. His curiosity led him to explore the website and learn about opportunities for serving overseas.
“I’m a teacher. I didn’t feel qualified as an evangelist, but I started praying about it and felt like God wanted us to do this,” Eddie Schieffer said. “I told my wife, and she told me ‘I’m crazy’ but she prayed, and said, ‘You’re right.'”
They filled out the application and went through the interview process, and by August had an assignment to serve in the North Africa Middle East Region (NAME). Eddie would serve as a teacher in a missionary school. They completed two months of training and by January the Schieffer family boarded a plane heading to their new home.
“We were planning on continuing full-time language until Eddie started teaching in August,” Kelly said.
With language learning as their first priority, they quickly settled into a routine that would combine homeschooling and language learning together. A tutor would come to their homes four days a week for three hours and teach the family the local language.
“Our children learned so quick. We [Eddie and Kelly] went over the lesson two or three hours more,” Kelly said.
The afternoons were spent exploring the new city, practicing the new language and beginning to build relationships with people in their community. Their musical talents led to an open door of joining the symphony and teaching three students percussion. Gospel seeds were planted as they answered the questions their Muslim students asked.
Doors to share the gospel were beginning to crack open; they had progressed in their language to a point where they were beginning to learn how to share the gospel in the local language.
“? And then, we came back,” Kelly said.
ILLNESS CUT MISSION SHORT
Four and a half months into their three-year overseas commitment, the Schieffers were packing their belongings and heading back home for medical reasons. Kelly had discovered lumps in her lymph nodes; a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?far enough along to need immediate treatments.
“We wanted to stay there (NAME) and do the treatments, but ultimately we came back,” Kelly Schieffer said. “It was really a disappointment ? we didn’t even feel like we had done anything mission-ish.”
“It felt like being jerked inside out when we had to come back (to the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-m