Donald Neumann, my dad. Father to me and 4 other siblings, married to my mom for over 60 years and had just turned 86 just 2 days before he died. My dad was many thing during his long life. He grew up in Iowa on a farm and was the oldest of 9 children. He joined the army, married and lost his first wife and baby girl from complications in child birth. A year or so later he met the woman, who he says "Saved his life" my mom. He then became the father to my oldest sister Terry, and went on to have 3 boys and another daughter...me! Shortly after I was born he left the army and went into private life. He repaired and sold copiers for 3M. We moved from El Paso Texas to Midland and then Lubbock. Lubbock is where he would be mentored from our church pastor and enter the ministry.
My parents on their wedding day!
My favorite photo of me and my dad when I was little.
When dad entered the ministry as a lay pastor he choose the not so good part of town, he wanted to serve where no one else wanted to go. During my high school years he pastored a church in Post Texas. He was there 2-3 times a week, 45 minute drive each way. He had me teaching Sunday school. It was right before I graduated that he moved to Tulsa OK, he pastored a small church in Coweta, OK., there he baptized our daughter's Tender and Samantha.
It was the move to Tulsa that changed his career course. He and my mom pretty much lost everything, the copier business that my dad had bought. He made the decision then to enter the ministry full time. My parents loaded up and moved to Indiana so dad should go to Seminary and be ordained as a full time pastor. He graduated and got his PhD and he and my mom informed us that they were headed out of the United States to Central America to enter the mission field full time. In 1992, they moved to Panama. They left everything to go serve.
My dad and my brother Paul at my dad's commissioning service
before leaving for Panama.
My dad sharing at a church in the states about their
mission work in Panama.
They loved Panama, the people, the country side and the work they did, had it not been for the horrific car accident they were in in 1998, I truly believe my dad would have died and been buried there. After a year of rest and healing from the accident, in which my mom suffered a broken neck and internal injuries and my dad lost a kidney, shattered a knee and ankle and had other internal injuries, my parents moved to south Texas and started back serving the people in the South Valley in Harlingen Texas.
They loved the ministry, the people, doing what God called them to do. All this does not surprise me, my parents were constantly bringing home people to live under our roof, to help them. They fostered several children, had foreign exchange students living with us and even sponsored a young man from Vietnam in the late 70's. They stopped for the person in a broke down car on the side of the road...my dad was the story of the Good Samaritan, and he taught his children to be the same.
All of my brothers are involved in sharing the gospel in some way, as a pastor, youth leader or leader in their church. My sister taught special needs kids for many years and still teaches them art. What do I do,? I am a mother to 4 amazing kids, I have an amazing husband, but what leads me to the mission field is my nursing career, a career built around serving others.
My daughter Tender's baptism.
After my first trip to Africa I was hooked, you spend days getting to know the people you are there to serve, you see the needs they have and you just want to help, to be a part of that life. I am not saying that mission work is a call for everyone, but serving others should be. I have seen many volunteer go and not want to return. We should teach our children when they are young that it is good to help others. The act of serving doesn't have to be a grand gesture like going to Africa or Panama on a mission trip. It can be helping the homeless, or a young couple struggling to care for her family. It can be saying kind words to someone having a bad day. It can be collecting food for the local food bank or blanket and coats for the homeless during the cold weather. It can be taking someone to a doctors appointment or watching their kids. Be the change you want to see in the world, be the Hands and Feet of Christ. The smallest of gestures can make an enormous impact on many people.
One of my favorite photos of my parents taken
after their car accident in Panama.
The last partial family photo I have with him, taken at my
mom's birthday celebration the month before he died.
My other 2 kids went and saw him the next week.
My favorite saying is "How can we be the hands and feet of Christ is we have no compassion."
I leave you with this challenge, go out and be kind, serve others and expect nothing in return, the blessings you get will far out weight any time or effort you put into it, if you do it with your heart.
If you would like more information on volunteering with Project Humanity for to www.projecthumanity.com