Our Retirement Years 2004 and beyond!

Our retirement years began in 2004 after 46 years of full time service, I was 65! The decision to retire was not a difficult one as I had planned it and was beginning to feel the weight of responsibility of keeping the momentum of church growth. I decided it was better to resign at the height of my vocation rather than for my Church Board or State colleagues to tap me on the shoulder and graciously say it was time. Naturally I had planned for the transition to hand over to a younger pastor who was itching to stamp his leadership & vision on the church. I have no regrets as to its timing.

Interestingly a step back in time will perhaps give you a picture of the events that prepared me for this day. It was April 1961, I had just turned 22 years of age when I built my first house. I am not a builder nor had I even built a ‘chook house’ (a house for domestic chickens), but necessity forced me to learn the skill of building when I first went to Papua New Guinea as a young missionary. I remember the excitement I felt as I began to work it all out. With some advice from Roy Short my missionary mentor and colleague at the time. I worked and worked until finally my first ‘bush home’ was complete. Just in case you think I couldn’t, here is a sketchy photo below taken all those years ago. I did it believe it or not………! 

With a hand saw, hammer, thousands of nails and with the help of  my native Papua New Guinea companion, I managed to put together a  house which I called “home”! I lived in it for three years using it as a base camp from which to do my evangelistic work amongst the mountain villages of the Mambalip region near Maprik. Within this humble dwelling I dreamed my dreams and plotted my course in missionary service and adventure.

Retirement years seemed a long long way off although being a planner by nature I wondered about where I would dwell in the distant future. I had a simple faith and knew God would provide according to Matthew 6:33-34 and indeed He did. Housing had never been an important issue to me during my ministry years. I was content to live in church Manses or rented homes believing that somehow if I had faith, God would provide. He provided all right through my industrious wife Betty.

As a missionary and later as a pastor, I was consumed with the task of fulfilling my vocation to the best of my ability. Material things were not that important to me although I knew I had to plan for those retirement years. As my family grew I adjusted my thinking on life responsibility and took out a small life insurance policy to cover any inadvertent event.Betty was a catalyst and helped me plan more objectively. We set a goal for our lives to own our home and be debt free at the age of 65, the time I had set for of our retirement. Over the years Betty quietly went about as a good Proverbs 31: 10-31 wife, caring and building up our resources.

 She bought and sold, gradually upgrading each time as we built and sold houses. Forty five years later we were able to buy our retirement home debt free. I never forget however my humble beginnings and thank God for his bountiful blessings along this incredible journey.

The two homes above were designed by Betty and built during our ministry sojourn in Toowoomba..It was in December 2004 that we finally retired from full time ministry and retreated to Brisbane where we were able to purchase in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, a beautiful home with a swimming pool for the grandkids to enjoy.

The beautiful Bunya forest surrounds our home which provides the nature walks each day. Isn’t it ironic that most of my younger years I spent walking through the jungles of New Guinea praying for people to be converted. Now in my old age I walk through the forests near my home praying for the Church that it remain strong in faith. 

Retirement of course comes with its challenges. Adjusting to a lesser income and living on the seniors pension is one that can be a shock to the system. However in reality we have found the pension a wonderful blessing and due to our thrifty years of missionary training and service we manage quite well. Many of our contemporaries who have been used to large incomes during their working lives find it very difficult. The only thing I miss is the ability to give more financially to the work of God. Retirement allows us to manage the affairs of our lives without many restrictions which is a great blessing. I have been able to spend time on my many hobbies such as Photography, Constructing this internet Website, Gardening, Researching, Documenting and constructing the Evans Family Tree and Reconnecting with old friendships on Facebook which has been fun. When I need to do something quite different, I have done a bit of voluntary work with the Red Cross at theirmobile Blood Banks.

The years of ministry experience has been a bonus. In retirement we have been able to support pastors who need a break from ministry and have been able to visit and preach for various churches as the need arises.

Retirement gives one the freedom to visit countries like India with my brother Andrew to celebrate the 75 Anniversary of the founding of the Zion Pentecostal Church in Kirkee, Poona. We took the opportunity to revisit the homes, schools even the hospital where my brother Andrew was born in 1936. To personally visit the home where my mother led her first convert to the Lord in 1924, in the Bhosari slums was very special. We also reconnected with children we played with as youngsters.

In 2010 I had the privilege of revisiting the mission field of Papua New Guinea. The excitement for me was to revisit the first village church I planted back in 1961 at a place called Kulingei high up in the Mambalip mountain range near Maprik. As I walked into the village to a traditional welcome, tears welled up in my eyes as the emotion of of it all overwhelmed me. Many of my first converts had passed away but some I still recognised though 50 years older. The welcome sign said it all “Ps Fredy Heavens Welcome Home.” Years of memory came flooding back from when I was just a young man, a single missionary of 21 discovering the call of God for my life. Now in retirement I could see life’s journey from a completed perspective.

One of the greatest joys of our retirement years is to be available for the family. “Family is everything” they say. I can appreciate that now more than ever. I love to visit the grandchildren and tell them missionary stories when I can. I miss those grandchildren who I can’t see and pray for them every day. To pray for them is a great pleasure and privilege. Watching them grow and imbibe Christian values for life is particularly satisfying. What can be better in retirement?

Retirement is also a time when one can explore the wonderful creative world of music, art, writing, gardening, movie making, establishing the family tree and any other creative idea that comes into my head. For my wife Betty, she has been able to peruse her creativity in sewing, writing, reading and cooking. Since retiring she has sewn dozens of dresses and clothes for the grandchildren including for our daughter Mary. Three Wedding dresses in the last year has consumed an immense amount of time.

In 2012 Betty took on another project and started writing the life story of a missionary colleague Evelyn Westbrook

This page is still under construction…..!



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