Montgomery couple starting three-year work in Ghanacomment (0)
January 4, 2007
By Alicia Morris Atcheson
Many men and women across America are eagerly awaiting the day they can retire. For many in their 60s, that day has either arrived or is a bright light at the end of a short tunnel leading to a life of leisure.
But for Pat and Peggy Ozment, both 62, retirement has opened the door to a new job.
“Retirement is primarily a modern, American idea. I certainly have not been able to find anything in the Bible about it, and the only retirement home mentioned there is the one prepared for us in heaven,” Pat Ozment said.
Last year, the Ozments learned about the International Mission Board’s (IMB) Masters Program from their friends Allen and Laurelle Stoudenmire, who are now serving as missionaries in Guatemala.
The Masters Program allows individuals over age 50 to make a commitment of two or three years to overseas missions.
The Ozments had always wanted to do missions work, so when they learned about this program, Pat Ozment retired from the pastorate of Pinedale Baptist Church, Montgomery, in Montgomery Baptist Association to start a new career in missions.
“When we graduated from seminary, we were not eligible to enter the missions field because of our teenage children. Later we were over the age limit,” he explained. “Then we heard about the program from the Stoudenmires.”
The Ozments became eligible for Social Security, so they decided to file for the benefits to supplement the basic salary and medical and life insurance benefits the IMB would provide.
On Oct. 24, 2006, the couple traveled to Virginia to the Missionary Learning Center, where they were prepared for their three-year stay in Tamale, Ghana, in West Africa.
They went through an intensive study of the culture, religion and traditions of the country, as well as the specific people group they will be working with.
The Ozments also received instruction on strengthening their individual relationships with Jesus through Bible study and prayer and how to set up a prayer network back home.
They were commissioned Dec. 13, 2006, arrived back in Alabama Dec. 14, 2006, and left for the missions field Jan. 3. While in Ghana, the couple is working with the Dagomba people of northern Ghana.
He trains young nationals to evangelize and start churches as part of the church-planting movement of the Northern Seminary of the Ghana Baptist Convention.
She works with the wives and children of the seminary students.
The Ozments said they are excited about this new chapter in their life because they know this is where God is calling them to be.
“We are not afraid of the people or the climate or the health questions or even the witch doctors. God has called us and we will take the necessary precautions while relying on Him for protection,” Pat Ozment said.
“We are more concerned about being accepted by the people so we can minister to them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, of course, God equips those whom He calls so that is covered, too,” Pat Ozment added.
The husband-and-wife team entered the ministry in 1987 when he became pastor of Sardis Baptist Church, Sardis, Tenn.
Pat Ozment was a student at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tenn., at the time.
In the 19 years that followed, the couple served churches in Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama, even starting a church in Michigan.
The Ozments have two daughters and one son, all of whom are married and involved in some type of ministry. Their son serves as a pastor in Tennessee.
Peggy Ozment said their children are supportive of their decision to enter the Masters Program.
“They all love the Lord and are used to the idea that when God calls us, we answer,” she said. “The only surprise they had was about where we are going. They might have hoped that it would be closer to home.”
But Pat Ozment said he never wanted to be the typical American retiree.
“God has a purpose for each of us for as long as He leaves us here. That purpose for every one of us involves telling lost people about Jesus,” he said. “I firmly believe that God has called all the missionaries He needs to get the word out, but I also believe that some of those whom He has called have not said, ‘Here am I, Lord. Send me.’”
Pat Ozment said the story of 85-year-old Caleb in Joshua 14 should give those over 50 the courage to press on. “Harvest time is here and everyone is needed,” he said.
For more information about the Masters Program, visit www.going.imb.org.