By Katy Devereaux
For more than 15 years, Roy Snyder, a resident of Grace Village in Winona Lake, Indiana, has been writing “The Missionary Veterans of Foreign Wars,” a four-page monthly newsletter for retired Grace Brethren missionaries. It helps veteran missionaries stay informed about active and retired missionaries.
Snyder selects six or seven lines from each of the e-mails and newsletters he receives. The first page carries news on other retired missionaries, the second and third pages summarize what’s happening with active missionaries, and the last page, under the heading “Roy’s Ploys,” gives humorous stories Snyder gleans from e-mail, the Internet, and sometimes from his own creativity.
Years ago, before Snyder took on the project, a quarterly newsletter was all the retired missionaries had to keep up-to-date. Tom Julien, who was then the executive director of Grace Brethren International Missions (GBIM), believed something needed to go out more often. So, Snyder decided to make that happen.
Snyder’s wife, Ruth, comments, “Retired missionaries want to know what’s going on [because] they were a part of it for so long.”
The Snyders retired in 1984 after 35 years in the Central African Republic (CAR), mostly in the capital city of Bangui. As a developing nation, the CAR has been plagued over the years by civil war and a bad economy. In fact, the economy is so bad that the government cannot pay schoolteachers, its military, or its employees. However, the Snyders said it is one of the most evangelized countries in the world.
While in Bangui, the Snyders experienced an evangelistic campaign that sparked spiritual growth. When they first arrived in 1960, there were only three churches in Bangui, but that number grew to 16 by 1982. The Snyders say the population of the city is now close to a million with about 40 Grace Brethren churches.
Although they planned to go back to Africa when they returned to the States in 1984, Snyder had a heart attack that made that impossible. Instead, he spent the next 12 years working with the senior adults at the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church.
Katy Devereaux, a Grace College journalism major from Jackson, Michigan, has been the BMH editorial intern during the fall 2006 semester.