Publication date: 05/25/23

The Abundant Life—in a "DASH"

Have you ever heard someone speak about your “dash?” We used to have a gospel presentation featuring a tombstone with the traditional “born - died” dates; the narrator explains that the dash between symbolizes what you have done with your life.

Isn’t it ironic that the word has so many negative or trivial connotations? A “dash” is a small amount of an ingredient you add to a recipe, or a hasty trip to the grocery store for it. You “dash off” an impetuous brief message or you may “dash” it to the floor in disappointment if you’re unsatisfied with it.

Dad & Emily
Emily and Dad

Thinking about how we spend our “dash” makes me think of one of our volunteers. Cheryl is a great-grandmother in her 70’s who has been serving as an Online Missionary in our ministry since 2011. In that time, she’s served almost 25,000 people. You might think this leaves her little time for anything else, but the truth is that the past several years have been difficult for Cheryl. Her husband passed away last year after a battle with colon cancer which forced them to spend a lot of time out of state for his care. Since his passing, she’s been taking care of their grandson and keeping up their large rural property by herself, while battling her own health issues (heart disease and TIAs). I am amazed at how God works through her responses every time I read them: in 2016 a young Kenyan mother called Nyawira connected to us through a marriage-themed website. In contact with her since then, Cheryl has been patiently encouraging her as Nyawira grows spiritually. Kenya is one of those nations where women aren’t as well-protected from being impoverished by divorce as in the United States. Cheryl understands the spiritual opportunity that awareness of a deep need creates. “Pray for my sons, Cheryl,” Nyawira writes, also asking for prayer for her marriage, “we fight a lot… this is my first marriage and this is his third.” Ruth, another of our insightful volunteers, likes to point out that it has to be the Holy Spirit bridging contexts: the generation gap, the communication gap and the culture gap, in addition to such needs as Nyawira has expressed. How else could a 70-year-old southern grandma in the USA connect so well with an African mother over 8,000 miles away?

Emily's 24th birthday
Emily's 24th birthday

The challenge is even more dramatic with Cheryl’s specialty: the Islam community. Our volunteers can reassign Muslim contacts to other volunteers like Cheryl, who have trained themselves in Muslim apologetics. With a recent Contact named Salim, it was impressive to watch her respond to repeated slander of America, of Israel, of the Christian faith in general and of herself personally, with kindness but firm courage, reminding him over and over again that she has read the Qur’an, that she knows the truth about the Christian Scriptures, that they have not been corrupted, and that Jesus is God incarnate, who willingly died in our place, then rose from the dead: our only possible means of salvation, and not a mere human prophet, let alone one of Islam’s prophets.

The way Cheryl is spending her life makes me think of the Apostle Paul’s statement, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you” (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Cheryl’s life has been more of a marathon than a dash. But she’s been well-prepared for this ministry, and even with all that, she doesn’t rest on her preparation but continually seeks the Holy Spirit’s leading in her connection with those she serves.

Luke and Lilian
Luke & Lillian at Luke's graduation

Just think: there are many remarkable believers who have led lengthy and productive lives: Billy Graham comes immediately to mind. Yet Jim Elliot was killed in Ecuador at age 28. David Brainerd died at age 29. Oswald Chambers was only 43. As little life as they had to give, we know their names because they contributed significantly to the world. The abundant life clearly isn’t measured by length: certainly not by comfort, health or possessions. I think one of the best measures is in opportunity, and God has shown Himself through so many of those.

Luke graduation
Luke's graduation

Our ministry is used mightily by Him to connect people at their point of need, (like Nyawira), or people who may have never had their deceptions questioned courageously, (like Salim), with people like Cheryl, who by God’s grace, have the truth and the hope they desperately need. Prepared, available believers, who can safely bring it to them without having to spend the resources to travel or having to risk the dangers of their troubled parts of the world. (Because of her specialization, Cheryl serves seekers in Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.)

Our 30th Anniversary

Some of you may remember that Cindy and I celebrated our 10th anniversary at Daytona Beach, where we were commissioned to serve with Campus Crusade for Christ. This month marked our 30th anniversary. It’s hard to believe, but our daughter, Emily, just turned 24 and our son, Luke, (22), just graduated from LeTourneau University (BS, Mechanical Engineering program).

Mother's Day
Mother's Day

I often feel like the “first son” in Jesus’ parable of the two sons, (Matthew 21:28-32), joining the ministry, as we did, at what is called the “mid-career” point. Cindy and I cannot thank you all enough for your partnership in all of these milestones in our lives. Our relationship with you is one of the most significant stories in our “dash!” Thank you for your faithful friendship, your prayers and your investment in us that makes it possible for us to run the race with patience!

Love, in Christ,

Mike Skinner Cindy Skinner

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