Wallace Stahl was just 4 years old when his family left America to work for God in a place his father called “the hardest place in the world.” The family sailed to South America, where they served rich and poor alike in the countries of Bolivia and Peru. Their hearts were touched as they saw the Inca Indians, who had once been a powerful civilization, now poor and sick and weakened by alcohol and abuse.
Like many children living in a foreign land, Wallace quickly learned the language of the Indians. He helped translate for his parents as they cared for people’s medical needs in a clinic they established.
Life wasn’t easy for Wallace and his family. Wallace often helped his mother and sister in the clinic while Papa Stahl traveled long distances to share God’s love with people who knew little about Jesus.
At that time there were no hotels to stay in, and people didn’t have cars. They rode horses wherever they needed to go. One day Papa Stahl returned sick from a long and difficult journey into the mountains. Every joint in his body ached from many nights sleeping on the cold, hard ground.
One day messengers came from a distant province to see Papa Stahl. “Please,” they begged, “we have brought mules and pack horses with us so that we can take a teacher back with us.”
Papa Stahl shook his head sadly. He had no teacher to send them. As he struggled to explain this to the delegation, one of the Indians said something to young Wallace. Wallace answered the man in his own dialect. The Indians asked Wallace more questions, and the boy answered them. The Indians became more and more excited.
“Please,” one man said, “let your boy come and teach us!”
Papa Stahl shook his head. “He is only a boy. He’s not prepared to teach.”
“If he would just teach us what he knows, we would be happy,” the man insisted.
“Papa,” Wallace said, “let me go. I’ll be all right.” Papa Stahl was touched, but still he refused. He knew that one day Wallace would be ready to take on such a task, but he was still too young to go alone into the mountains. Finally the delegation returned home with a promise that one day a teacher would come.
Wallace grew up in a mission field, serving the people of the Andes and the Amazon.
You too are growing up in a mission field, for God’s mission field is all around you. You don’t have to learn a different language or live in a foreign land to be a missionary. You can be a missionary by telling your friends that Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend too. And when you give your mission offering, you’re helping others reach people for Jesus in places you may never know.
Adapted from Kay D. Rizzo, Determined to Love (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988).