Wednesday, August 28, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech from the 1963 March on Washington during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. “I have a dream,” he said, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” On Saturday, his oldest son, Martin Luther King III, spoke at a rally in Washington, DC, and declared that the task has not been completed. But the dream is not dead. High hopes and noble ambitions are not always achieved at the time or in the same way the owner of the dream has envisioned.
Walter Kinsey, my father, had hopes of becoming a missionary. He studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, but poor health not only kept him out of the military, it precluded missionary service as well—at least overseas missions. His Christian service assignment while in Bible school was at the West Side Rescue Mission. Who would deny that it was missionary service of a sort? Dad met another Moody student, Eleanor Siewerth, who was also serving at the mission, playing the piano and teaching Sunday school. The rest, as they say, is (family) history. Throughout their more than fifty years of marriage they actively served the Lord in their local church and supported foreign missions. Though not fully realized, neither did his dream die.
When my wife Joyce and I became Awana missionaries in 1982, we fulfilled the promises we individually had made to the Lord as young people that we were willing to serve Him as missionaries. Though Canada is not as “foreign” a country as locations overseas, nevertheless we left the country of our births to serve the Lord full-time, seeking to win and train boys and girls for Christ. In another sense, it also fulfilled my father’s dream of missionary service. But growing up, being a missionary was not my dream.
Whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always answered that I wanted to be a pastor. This was still my intention when I enrolled at Wheaton College. But by the time I graduated, I could see that the denomination I grew up in might not be the right place for me. So, instead of attending a denominational seminary, I stayed at the Graduate School and got a degree in Christian education. Serving for the last 31 years with Awana, I have enjoyed many pastoral-type opportunities. Though not fully realized, neither did my dream die.
As our children began to grow up and think about their futures, we told them, “You can be anything God wants you to be.” I think we can honestly say we never tried to force them to be something God was not calling them to be. Plumber or preacher, theologian or teacher—whatever it was that God wanted them to be was pretty much okay with us. They all have their separate avenues of service. But what is so fascinating to me is that one of them is a pastor, in a sense, fulfilling my dream of becoming one myself.
Are there any conclusions to draw from this? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain. God is faithful. He is the keeper of dreams. The Psalmist said, “Commit your way to the Lord…and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) Perhaps even Martin Luther King Jr’s dream will one day be fully realized. What do you think?