October 13, 2013
Becoming a missionary was never part of David Schneider's plan.
But after decades of service in the Philippines, Mexico and South Africa, the 78-year-old has plenty of experiences from which to draw on in his new book, "Arrows of Light: Devotions for Worldwide Christians."
The father of three shares his faults, failings and successes in what he called an "honest book."
"It's meant to be a book of hope, light for the darkness wherever we find it," he said.
Of the nearly 150 stories in the book, 101 are based on Schneider's experiences in foreign countries. The Colorado Springs resident said he realizes now how na?e he was before going abroad, and he wants other people to come to that same realization.
Schneider and his wife, Darlene, moved to the Philippines in 1960, starting an 18-year mission. The Philippines is where Schneider first saw and fell in love with mountains and where he met President Ferdinand Marcos, who agreed to help the church. It's also where he refused to eat balut - a cooked, fertilized duck egg - but hesitantly tried dog.
Schneider wears a silver pendant from the Philippines with Christ on either side of the cross, symbolizing his crucifixion and resurrection.
"And that's the roots of the Christian gospel in this one symbol," he said. "I wear it whenever I teach or preach. It reminds me who I am and what I'm there for."
In 1985, the Schneiders moved to All Saints Lutheran Church in Guadalajara, Mexico.
"We opened a Spanish ministry down there, and I got to learn to teach and preach in Spanish when I was there - that was fun, a lovely language."
After six years in Mexico, the Schneiders moved to South Africa, where he served as a seminary professor until 2000. Many stories in the book revolve around the revolution that was taking place in the country at that time.
"We saw things nothing short of miraculous - changes and willingness to overcome 300 years of apartheid," he said. "That took a tremendous amount of courage from a lot of people."
In his book, Schneider spends a lot of time discussing the difficulties of being a missionary.
"It's a very humbling experience," he said. "It's almost shattering because everything you were good at is all of a sudden irrelevant. And everything you're called to do, you have no idea how to do it. . It knocks you down, and I think that's a very good process."