If you are unable to read “A Family Legacy” above, the text of this article is included below.
With sad eyes and heavy hearts, the teenagers watched Jack drive back to Chicago.
It was the early 1950s when Jack Canady, a Moody Bible Institute student, chose to intern as a youth pastor at a one-room, rural church. The students loved Jack, as they had enjoyed other intern youth pastors in the past. But as Jack watched the small community fade in his rearview mirror, his heart, too, began to break.
For these rural kids, the story was always the same. A pastor would come. Then he would leave.
Burdened for the Rural Church
When Jack graduated college and married Norma, they had a plan to serve in rural churches.
“We were concerned about small churches,” said Jack. “So, after college, I was going to get a teaching degree. I was going to teach at schools in communities where the church was closed and use the teaching money to live on. We were going to get the church in shape and move on to a new community.”
While studying toward his teaching degree, a Village Missionary came to his college to talk about Village Missions, and Jack raced home to tell Norma.
“There’s an organization that does exactly what God has called us to do!”
With pioneer hearts and a burden for helping the unreached churches of rural America, Jack and Norma moved to their first mission field of Moffat, CO, in 1958.
It was there, that a 60-year legacy began.
A Family Legacy
For Jack and Norma, ministry was always a family thing.
If Jack or Norma was leading someone to Christ, their kids were usually watching. It was always a family ministry, and their son Mark still remembers it that way.
“I loved it. We got to go out and be a part of what was happening,” said Mark.
Still, growing up as a missionary kid brought its challenges, and with those challenges, Jack and Norma made opportunities to involve their kids.
When Mark was a preteen, Jack received a call from Executive Director Walter Duff. Mark knew what his father was about to be told. They were going to be reassigned.
“I don’t want to move,” Mark told his mother.
Jack hung up the phone a sat down with his son.
“Mark, they’ve asked us to move. The town they want us to help has 3,000 people and no church. They need the gospel.”
Mark nodded. “Then we have to go.”
Both Mark and his brother, Paul, would go on to become Village Missionaries, and Mark and his wife, Bonnie, still serve as District Representatives.
And the legacy continues today, as Paul and Mary Lou’s daughter, Jenny, serves as a Village Missionary in New York with her husband, Chad.
“It’s kind of a crazy thought,” said Chad. “Each generation was mindful of their legacy – the generation to come. They were faithful to ministry, and the highlight for generations has been prayer.”
To this day, Jack and Norma feel blessed to see such a legacy.
“It’s probably one of our greatest joys – seeing our children and children’s children get the call.”
While rural America has experienced changes in culture, population and economy over the past 70 years, people still need Jesus.
In 1948, Walter Duff called for Village Missionaries to “Preach the Word and Love the People.” It’s a motto bigger than one family. It’s a legacy of hundreds of missionary families, who have forsaken a life of ease to reach the unremembered people with the gospel of Jesus.
“Churches are still closing. The needs are as great as they’ve ever been,” said Mark.
After 70 years, churches continue to reach out to Village Missions for leadership, and men and women continue to answer the call.
A Legacy of Giving
It is fun to reminisce about the legacy of Village Missionaries and the ministry of Village Missions, but there is only one legacy that makes any of this possible.
For 70 years, people like you have faithfully given to this ministry, and it is only through your generosity that Village Missionaries are able to go to rural churches.
Today, 22 churches are waiting for a Village Missionary. They are desperate for leadership to help them continue their own legacy of reaching their community for Christ.
Will you help them?
Your gift today will not only keep a country church open. It will help supply Village Missionaries to practically show the love of Jesus to an entire community in need.
Visit villagemissions.org help a rural church today!