Erika F. Puni, Director, General Conference Stewardship

Summary: The writer talks about how some senior stewards though aged and retired have a continued willingness to sacrifice and help others.

Number in the thousands

We see them in airports, hospitals, shopping malls, and other public places, giving volunteer service and support to various government entities and nonprofit organizations. At the Auckland International Airport in New Zealand, for example, they are known as the women and men in blue because of the color of their jackets. They may be staffing the Information Booth, or simply giving directions to visitors and travelers who are looking for a particular office, shop, or transport pick-up area.

These senior stewards number in the thousands anywhere in the world, providing crucial service and help to local authorities and community agencies whose resources are already stretched to the limit. These teams of retirees and seniors save their adopted organizations and beneficiaries thousands, even millions of dollars every year through their dedication and life of service to humanity.

A caring neighbor

In Woongarrah, New South Wales, Australia, I know him as John Ball. He is my neighbor, an Anglican Christian, a retired soldier and a caring citizen of our local neighborhood. When John sees weeds such as bindii and clover in my front lawn, he sprays them without hesitation or question. For John, this act of kindness is what neighbors do.

When we are away for a few days or a prolonged period of time, he checks the mailbox for unsolicited advertising and newspapers and takes them away. On numerous occasions when I have been traveling within the South Pacific or abroad, he and his wife Kester have extended invitations to my wife Maxine to stay with them until I returned. John and Kester are good examples of senior stewards, people who understand the principles of giving and looking after people in community.

Mentors and friends

At Cooranbong, Australia, where Avondale College is located, I know him as Pastor Austin Fletcher—retired minister and former theology lecturer at the College. Austin was one of a number of retired pastors whom the Faculty of Theology called to assist with the field education component of the ministerial program offered at Avondale during my time of teaching there

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The primary task assigned to Austin and his retired friends who resided at the local Adventist Retirement Village was mentoring for the first-year theology students. These men did more than what was expected of them. They were mentors, counselors, tutors and friends to the students under their care. They shared their ministerial experience with them; giving generously of their time and resources and opened their homes and hearts in support of these young and upcoming leaders of the church. Austin was truly a senior steward of God’s kingdom.

She served others

I knew her in New Zealand as a woman with a heart for the poor and the underprivileged. She is Margaret Jackson from the Cambridge Church, North New Zealand Conference. Margaret had been involved with the church’s Community and Welfare Service for many years, known as the “Dorcas Society.” She has been a member of the New Zealand Bible Society, teaching Bible in public schools, as well as a class in floral art. She helps with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and is a campaigner against alcohol. For five years, she was president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for New Zealand, and one-time president for the world organization. Margaret is a senior steward working in partnership with God in the use of her gifts—making an effort to make a difference in the lives of people that she meets.

A common thread

So what do these individuals have in common? John, Austin and Margaret all believe in giving of themselves in service to others. Their commitment to doing good in community is part and parcel of their worship and their lifestyle as stewards of God’s kingdom on earth. Their love for God results in their love for people. They understand the principles of biblical stewardship that call for men and women everywhere to give fully of themselves as Christ gave His all for us.

These three stewards represent many people in the world who believe that service is for life. And like Joshua, a senior steward and leader of Israel, their lives stand as a witness and challenge to the rest of us that a life of service to others really matters.

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January–March, 2006

Senior Stewards