Retired Missionary Aid Fund centenary 2014
Andrew Jessop, East Dereham, Norfolk [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
In 2014 we have cause to give thanks to our Lord for His provision as the Retired Missionary Aid Fund celebrates its one hundredth birthday! God willing, the Fund will continue to contribute to meeting the needs of retired faithful servants of the Lord who have laboured full time on the mission field. We are mindful of the need for the future, until our Lord returns; Hallelujah! what a day that will be, and, let us never forget, it could be today!
In 1914 three of the Lord’s people saw a need and took steps to meet it, going forward in faith to provide for retired missionaries; they were true ‘men of renown’. The three founders of the Fund were Mr. Arthur Boake, Dr. Eleazer Roche, and Mr. W. T. Wilson. They saw elderly brothers and sisters who had devotedly served the Lord in faith for many years returning home, often worn out by their service, but who were either unknown or forgotten by a fresh generation of believers. These three brothers made the provision largely from their own resources, for some years with little support, distributing about five hundred pounds per year to around twenty-five retired missionaries. They continued alone until 1922 when they were joined by two other brothers and, at that time, they formed the Fund’s first Council. Today, there are seventeen trustees who endeavour to provide a local point of contact. They try to visit local RMAF family members and speak in various assemblies about the work of the Fund.
The Fund is an independent trust, but has close links with Echoes of Service and Interlink who have representatives on the Fund’s council of trustees. The aim of RMAF has always been to provide some form of financial support to retired missionaries who have served the Lord faithfully overseas. The Fund seeks to be an extended family and provides prayer support, visits where practicable, and regular updates on the comings and goings of members of the family. Many, but not all of the family, need and receive financial support, this being very much a mutual decision. The Fund also marks family member’s birthdays, hampers are sent at Christmas time, although these, like the birthday gifts, can be sent only to those living in the United Kingdom.
The family has grown over the years and now has 225 members, of which the majority live here in the UK. Distribution of grants to these retired workers is now in excess of half a million pounds per year. It is clear from the 2013 Echoes of Service Daily Prayer Guide that there are a significant number of long-serving missionaries in the field who will, God willing, at some point in the not too distant future be eligible to join the RMAF family and, though we know that the Lord may come at any moment, we believe it is important for us to actively plan to continue to support both the likely new members together with existing members of the family. We continue to look to the Lord to provide. In addition to regular grants, there are occasional special financial one-offs such as funeral expense grants on the home-call of either a husband or wife who meet the Fund’s criteria.
RMAF mainly supports workers who have served at least twenty years overseas and are of state-retirement age. A few mission-aries who came home early have also been welcomed into the family because of special circumstances such as ill health. The trustees try to keep track of missionaries who have retired ‘early’ for other reasons and they are usually invited to join the family when they reach retirement age.
As the Fund is able to support and encourage family members, so we are encouraged by them, as they often write or email to say thank you. Many give an indication of how financial help from the Fund has delivered practical and much-needed support:
‘Many thanks again for your letter, and encouraging words from the Scripture. I am very thankful to all concerned for the grant put into my Bank account. It is such a help, and always so timely’.
‘A big thank you to the trustees for their most generous gift which came the other day. I’m sure a lot will have to be spent on heating with the forecast of a hard winter. So I am so grateful for this generous gift’.
RMAF does not actively solicit funds, but looks to the Lord. The result of faith and prayer has been ample provision; the Lord is no man’s debtor. The main sources of funding are gifts from Christian Trusts and legacies, with individual and assembly gifts making up the rest. While the Fund’s trustees do have concerns for the future because legacies, individual and assembly giving, are slowly falling in real terms, we also know our Lord will meet the need of His people and so we continue in faith, ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us’, 1 Sam. 7. 12.
With the general financial climate, and uncertainty over future state benefit payments, there is a financial challenge for an upcoming generation of believers, to support retired mission-aries as generously as the generation that commended them to the work.
We value your continued prayers, never forgetting that in this turbu-lent world we should always be listening for His footstep at the threshold of the door!