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One Step at a Time

By Lydia Gingerich

In December 2016, Elmer and Eileen Lehman, long-time Rosedale Mennonite Missions (RMM) supporters and missionaries, published the inspiring story of their lives in a book entitled: One Step at a Time. The Lehmans traveled to Costa Rica as RMM missionaries in 1961 hoping to start the second evangelical church in a city of 17,500 people. Their autobiography begins on two separate farms in upstate New York and recounts their journey through a plethora of communities and events, following God all the way.

The following excerpt from the book, details one of the pivotal events in their early ministry:

“Our college graduation came in June 1960. We were two of the 90 graduates. Interestingly, fourteen of the graduates were married. There were also five engaged couples among the graduates. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, and Elmer received a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Bible and Pastoral Ministries. He had gone straight through in four years, with my faithful support as the primary breadwinner. I had started college in 1949, and after years of part-time studies, we graduated together.

Now we needed to respond to the request from Mark Peachey. After two years in Puerto Rico, and four years at Eastern Mennonite College, we felt out of touch with the Conservative Mennonite Conference. The annual Conference sessions were held that summer in August in Kalona, Iowa. We decided to attend as we sought God’s direction for our next step. We returned to New York State to see family members and there we joined my parents and my older brother, who was serving on the mission board at the time and had given them our name. We stopped twice overnight as we covered the 1,000 miles in pre-interstate highway days.

When Mark Peachey and the mission board members found out that we were on the conference grounds, they asked to meet with us. They informed us that after an investigative trip, Costa Rica had been chosen. Then they wanted us to know this: the mission board had already accepted us. Would we now accept them? The next day was the final day of our Conference sessions. They wanted our answer before the sessions ended.

“…His voice seemed so clear as His words were impressed upon us. 'You have been preparing for this all these years. If you say no, what is your reason?'"What a night that was! We were staying in a farmhouse of one of the local believers, and that upstairs bedroom remains entrenched in our memory. We prayed and we struggled. Yes, we felt called to Latin America, but now we were being asked to go to a new field and start from nothing. We felt so inadequate. We cannot say that we have ever heard the Lord speak to us in an audible voice. Yet, His voice seemed so clear as His words were impressed upon us. 'You have been preparing for this all these years. If you say no, what is your reason?' We continued to hesitate. Those words came to us again and again. Finally, we said yes. But, Elmer was committed to a year of study at the seminary.

The next day we met with the mission board. We informed them that we were ready to commit to this assignment, but we would not be ready until Elmer finished a year of seminary. They looked at each other and one of them answered for the group, 'We’ll wait.' We left the grounds as missionaries under appointment.”

Many more stories of trusting God and participating in his work can be found in the pages of this book. Their story is a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness as he leads this couple, one step at a time. The Lehman’s have graciously decided to gift RMM with all the proceeds from the sales of One Step at a Time.

To purchase your copy of this book go to www.elmereileen.com