Dr. Ockenga’s vision for missions was sparked by the People’s Church in Canada and it lit up this church’s vision. His/their method of fund-raising for missions got to be famous and inspiring in always attempting from the pulpit to encourage a growth each year in the budget and the number of missionaries that it supported. I picked up the vision for missions there and also via my sisters [Lee and Betty], who were reinforced by the teaching and worldview of the church.
One of the missionaries, Dr. Robert Foster, a good speaker and lively advocate of medical missions in Africa became one of my ideals for foreign service. He was first a missionary sharing the Gospel and then a very interesting and resourceful physician and surgeon in third world service. He later became sort of a mentor by mail of my progress through medical school.
With pleasure and excitement we accepted the call for foreign missions in Angola after a stint doing medical work in South Dakota among the Sioux Indians. Park Street Church became a willing and supportive backing for our service of 17 years.
Park Street’s purpose was to be intimately involved in the lives and work of its foreign representatives. Through the 100% support policy, the whole congregation got to know us individually and in our own priorities there in Africa. A Barnabas Group, with eight to twelve members, closely followed and upheld us in their prayers and with material and emotional backing.
We were blessed greatly and more profoundly than by any of the other 15 churches that financially supported us during our time out in Africa. Only the Newton Presbyterian Church did as great a financial support though perhaps a lesser emotional and spiritual support. The Park Street vision is to be applauded and emulated by any church.written by Steve for Colin Duncan (Bob’s son), March 18, 2011
My sister Lee had been involved with a camp specifically set up for African American children. This existed while we were in Philadelphia and I was probably five years old. It impressed me that she was doing it cross-cultural work, and not for the purpose of being cross-cultural but in service to God. Most of the time that I was growing up, Lee was out of a house in university nursing school and preparing for work, probably in the third world. So I had the vision planted in my mind that this was a way to go when I was an adult.
While I was in high school and early college, Betty and Harley when off to France in mission work. Because they too were highly favored in my estimations, they impressed me that I needed to go somewhere “out there” for the purpose of sharing the Gospel.
But perhaps the foremost in my leadings toward mission work was Park Street Church, which my father (Taylor) insisted we attend when we returned to the Boston area after the Second World War and our return from Philadelphia. Figuring in this influence were annual missions conferences, where missionaries were paraded in front of us and challenged us to be involved in taking the Gospel to somewhere other than our own home. Among those that were a challenge and an encouragement were Dr. Robert Foster and his wife Belva. They had been working in Zambia. Later they started work in Angola, a Portuguese speaking country. I corresponded with them during my college and medical school career. It was Park Street’s minister Dr. Ockenga that started and kept the motion going toward missions as the only alternative for our future.
Both of my sisters Lee and Betty were being supported in their mission work by Park Street Church. It was only natural that after my time in the U. S. Army and in graduate school that I took six months off and went to Peru. I worked in the medical laboratory there because I had already been trained in that work. After asking Marcia to marry me, I left for Peru and its jungles. After the short term work in the laboratory, I returned in the middle of 1966 and we got married (Dec 1966). Even before Marcia and I tried tied the knot, we spoke extensively of serving in the third world. When we returned from medical school in Italy, I entered the internship at the Waltham Hospital, surgical residency at the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts, and then five years with the Sioux Indians in Sisseton, South Dakota. We listened to an appeal for help in Angola to start a new hospital. So in 1983, we left for Portugal to get two months of training and the Portuguese language, and then flew to Luanda, Angola and eventually to Lubango in the Huila Province. Serving in a cross-cultural situation was being fulfilled.added by Steve on November 26, 2012
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