My Dad, David Lingo, is one of my heroes of the faith.
He and my mom raised me and my two sisters not only in a Christian home, but also in a missionary home. All three of us were saved at a young age and participated in the ministry. My parents were adamant God had not called them to the field, He had called all of us. As a result, I never felt like being a missionary kid deprived me of anything. They also instilled in us we are missionaries no matter where we are. So, when we returned to the U.S. for a year-long furlough, we were still to be telling others about Jesus.
God called us off of the mission field when He opened the door for my parents to become professors in the Missions Department at Baptist Bible College. They spent 20 years sharing their vision and the biblical foundation for missions with countless students. “The God of the Old Testament is a missionary God,” is a statement they all remember well. Although my dad was a missionary kid himself and has always had a desire to go back to the field, he understood he could do more for the cause of Christ by training hundreds of people to go than if he went himself.
During the time he spent teaching at BBC, he became the pastor of a rural church after their pastor was killed in a tragic accident. Through the church, my parents were able to extend their reach by training young couples headed into ministry. Their heart has always been to train and send for the cause of Christ.
About five years ago, everything changed.
As a result of several traumatic events in his life, my dad suffered a brain injury. The medical professionals have called it a “stroke-like event.” His official diagnosis, which is supported by the symptoms we have seen, is Dementia. This brain disease has caused him to lose his ability to communicate and to interact with the present world. Although he speaks, sometimes in English and sometimes in Spanish, his words are jumbled and rarely make a coherent thought. Many days he believes himself to be a young man or a child still on the mission field with his parents. Several times he has grieved the passing of his dad over again because he doesn’t remember it happened.
One thing that has not changed is his tenderness toward the Gospel. Many times he has made himself understood when he is burdened for the lost and dying world. He makes sure those around him have heard the truth of Scripture. He cries tears of happiness when he thinks of all the missionaries serving Christ today. My dad spent his life in the business of communicating the love of Christ, and, although he has lost that ability, his burden for the lost is still so evident.
My sister reminded me today of 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (ESV). We pray daily for God to heal my dad, and we pray believing that He will. It may not be on this earth, but my daddy will be healed someday. In the meantime, I’m grateful to get to share his legacy with you.
Please pray for our family as we face the daily battles of this situation, and especially pray for my mom as the wedding vows she took 48 years ago, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” are present with her every day. She has lost her spouse, her companion, her best friend, and her leader. He is physically present, but gone in every other way.
Are you facing a “light affliction” today?
Have you lost hope in your situation? Remember your life is only a “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14, ESV). And when this life ends, we will have eternity to spend in the perfect presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I challenge you to live with the end in mind and stay the course. God will reward your faithfulness.