Early Retirement…to Ukraine?

John and Evelyn Wiens had successful careers and only a few years left in the workforce when they chose to spend 10 years in Zaporozhye. Garry and Evelyn Verhoog were training their adult sons to take over their large dairy farm in Canada when they left it all for a challenging start-up in Nikolay-Pole. What motivated them to reject the traditional North American notion of retirement as rest, relaxation, and a diminished workload? The answer is a mixture of spiritual conviction and undiminished vision.

“I know this sounds a little cliché, but I don’t find the word ‘retirement’ in the Scriptures. Work is not the goal, work is only the means to keep body and soul together,” says John. “Our lives are meant to be lived for the glory of God; we’re his servants.… I would encourage all retirees to think bigger, to dream bigger, to ask the Lord, ‘how can we make an impact?’ Retirees have a whole lot of wisdom – retirement can be the most productive time of life.”

“Giving money didn’t seem enough,” says Garry. Lacking pastoral or missionary training, he was hesitant to ask for support but he felt convicted to act. “When you’re retired and you have a decent income, there’s a lot of a places in the world where you can go and do important work,” he says. “[You can] use the experience and knowledge that you’ve gained over a lifetime of working in Canada to do a lot of good.”

“By our choices we decide whether life will be an adventure,” John says. Retirement, for both couples, is neither the end of choice, nor the end of adventure.

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