By Tim Robertson
Times-Union Staff Writer
Reprinted from the Warsaw, Ind., Times-Union (with edits) with permission.
Grace Brethren International Missions (GBIM) staff, along with local community and church leaders, gathered November 26 to honor those who served the mission for 50 years or more.
In the garden in front of GBIM’s International Missions Center in Winona Lake, Ind., the mission placed two benches with the names of those who have served for 50 years and a pillar with a plaque the mission hopes will inspire young recruits.
Those honored were Tom and Doris Julien, Warsaw, Ind.; Bill and Imogene Burk, Brazil; and Jack Churchill, deceased Jan. 8. The Juliens attended Wednesday’s celebration and the Burks and Churchill’s widow, Rosa, were reached by telephone.
The Juliens’ service with GBIM began in 1958. The couple worked in France for the majority of their years of service and also in mission leadership in the U.S. They continue to serve GBIM.
The Juliens shared some reflections on their years of service. They said developing a team mentality has been a key to their work.
“We are honored,” said Tom Julien. “It is just an honor to have served with GBIM for the past 50 years. Ministry is not what we do for the Lord; it is what He does through us.”
“We have always seen ourselves as a husband and wife team,” said Doris Julien, “each of us having an indispensible role in the ministry.”
Tom agreed. “Our most valuable teammate is our spouse,” he said. “It’s been teamwork all the way.”
The Burks are still serving in Brazil, where Bill provides training for pastors in remote areas along the Amazon and other rivers. Churchill’s service began in 1949. He served in Argentina and Mexico.
The benches and pillar are intended to be a second local landmark for GBIM, which has been in operation since 1900. An older plaque marks the spot on which the mission was founded in Winona Lake, near Rodeheaver Auditorium. Most GBIM recruits visit the plaque before leaving for the country where they will work. GBIM Director of Operations Mike Taylor said he hopes the new pillar and benches will be similarly inspirational to recruits, students, and others visiting the garden.
“Here we have five individuals who have each dedicated more than 50 years of their lives,” said Taylor. “We thought, ‘what if we could have a similar plaque that we could take young recruits to.’ Just reading that plaque alone may influence someone to dedicate his or her life to great significance.”
(Editor’s Note: Times-Union reporter Tim Robertson is a 2003 graduate of Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind. He and his wife, Jessica, are GBIM appointees to Cambodia.)