MY FIRST AIRPLANE RIDE, courtesy of the U.S. Army, catapulted me from King Louie’s Galt City on the Ohio to El Paso beside the Rio Grande with a brief ricochet off the old wall-feared Kansas City tether trap. It was June 27, 1954.
I exited the boxy body of the old Fort Knox bus onto a boxy four-motor aircraft. Not engines. Motors. Not a jet. In those days, the only Jet was the magazine. I was given a box lunch by a smiling lady whose prim carriage was topped off with a box hat.
She answered to either “hostess” or “stewardess,” although the latter seemed a better fit. She was the keeper of the boxes—the soother of the nerves of 17 smooth-faced, weekend warriors. Air pockets made us fret, sweat, and stew more than basic training’s live ammo course. But our stewardess was a good administrator for the needs of others. She plied her hospitable talents without a bobble. Why? Because she had been entrusted with ones who, though not actually hers, were temporarily hers for safekeeping and well-being.
Thus, with virtually no theology, or any other “ologies” at the time, “I observed a lot just by looking” as Yogi Berra once said. Yessir, that day I got one of my best looks at a bona fide stewardess.
A New Definition of Stewardship
I doubt I need to define stewardship. You’ve probably heard it more times than you want to admit to your pastor. However, I need to keep refreshing my memory. According to Merriam Webster, stewardship is “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something [or someone] entrusted to one’s care.” The parenthetical comment is mine.
You see, the four children who grew up in our household are not ours. Never were. God merely loaned them to us. We privately—then in the presence of God and witnesses publicly—dedicated Steve, Nathan, Rhoda, and Jonathan to the Lord. And since then, we attempt daily to retain those vows.
God chose the home front for Fleda and me. Although, to be honest, at times I’ve felt I was more “ready to go” than “ready to stay.” During the early days of the Cuban revolution in 1960, my college roommate Jim Combs and I served the greater part of the summer with the Thomas Willey families, Senior and Junior, at Bautista Libre seminary in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Hace mucho calor! I had to see what God wanted to show me concerning missions at that time in my young life.
God’s design for reaching the world is much like the army m.o. (mode of operation). For each person at the battlefront, three support personnel are needed; “support services,” if you will. Since the wife and I seemed to understand that fact early in our marriage, we poured everything into the lives of our children.
We attended countless Bible and missionary conferences, family and young people events, Christian camps, recreational functions, Free Will Baptist and other youth competitions, Little League…you name it, we’ve done it! Bowling, fishing, hunting, and travel—anywhere you could take a cooler for family fun.
Yet, through all the motion, our children were taught by example to be faithful to the local church. Could it be that next to the family unit itself this is the most important call in Christendom?
Fleda stresses that one extremely important element of child rearing/stewardship is knowing where your children are and what they are doing. When the Evil Eye queried, “It’s eleven o’clock, do you know where your children are?” we oft times had to say we didn’t know exactly, but there was no great consternation on our part because the preparation we had afforded them preempted the evils awaiting. Naïve? No. Confident? Yes.
So where are our kids today?
Our Nathan and Linda seem to be having a good time serving the Lord in Japan. Sapporo is home to their children: Megan (the only one of five born in the States), Daniel, Andrew, Jacob, and Noah. Nathan’s family has made a long-term commitment to career church planting in the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
Likewise, Jonathan and Teresa are currently living and serving in Japan with their children—David, Elizabeth and Anna. Talented musicians all, they are working to develop church music that is distinctly Japanese in tone.
ABOVE: Chuck and Fleda Snow pull out their family album (that's the couple on the far left).
Our Rhoda and her husband Paul Creech established a brief precedent for Nathan and Jonathan in Japan in ’86-’87, after Paul and she pastored a Canadian congregation. Eventually the Creeches served as dorm parents in Cote d’Ivoire, where our two little African-Americans—Deborah and Lydia—were born. God later moved Paul and Rhoda just below the gnat line in Macon, Georgia, and back into the pastorate. The two sons of their fearsome foursome are Joseph and Caleb.
So, three of our children have been employed by the FWB International Missions Board.
Steve, our other child on loan from the Lord, is an active “missionary-layman” who lives in the middle Tennessee area. He and wife Robyn serve the Lord in the construction engineering and nursing industries. Bible study groups and music form a solid foundation for their varied ministries. God has blessed them with three perfect tens: Olivia, Sophia and Lilianne—churched and charming little champions.
INTROSPECTIVELY, CHUCK AND FLEDA,
They’re not yours.
They are on loan.
Dedicate them daily.
Set the example.
Do things together.
Tell them why (or why not).
Define for them a challenging course.
Exude total confidence in them.
Stress, in turn, their stewardship,
Then, take a deep breath and
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.
Oops! And, Let it Snow.