Still Found Useful

By Karissa Uhlig

Theresa Whinery, an administrative and communications coordinator at JAARS, is a woman of many talents. Before her retirement, Theresa worked for Fortune 50 companies like Sungard and SAP America where she thrived in the Technology world. She also worked as a chef and adjunct professor. But she thought she was done in the workforce. She had never anticipated working for a mission organization after retirement, but the Lord showed her that it’s never too late to serve him. 

Theresa Whinery

In the midst of retirement, Theresa’s life changed direction in September 2020 when she served at JAARS on a mission team from her home church, Calvary Fellowship. Teams from the church had been traveling all the way from Pennsylvania to serve at JAARS by doing inventory in the hangar for 20 years, but the 2020 trip was Theresa’s first time at JAARS. A member of the mission team became ill and was unable to go, so Theresa agreed to fill her spot. She was so glad that she came! 

A family that has served with JAARS invited the Calvary Fellowship mission team to their house for dinner. They enticed the team not only with food, but also with the promise of two special guest speakers. Theresa wondered who the speakers could be. She was delighted to find out that they were none other than Grace Townsend Goreth and her husband, Tom. She was excited because she knew that Grace was the daughter of Cameron Townsend, the founder of JAARS.

After Grace and Tom spoke, they gave everyone Cameron Townsend’s book, A Thousand Trails. The book impacted Theresa deeply and impressed her with the mission and vision of JAARS. She wrote a thank you note to Grace and began praying about how she might personally engage in the mission of JAARS. Since she had a background as a chef, she had the idea of creating cookbooks for mission workers that would use local foods in their area. She described this idea in her card to Grace.

Grace thought Theresa’s idea was wonderful, but she reminded her that everyone, even volunteers, have to apply and be accepted before they can partner with JAARS. Theresa began the application process. Soon, Rex Saoit, the recruitment and staffing manager at JAARS, contacted Theresa. He told her that she was not going to be able to write cookbooks for mission workers.

Theresa was disappointed, but not upset; rather, she was excited that God must have a different plan for her. Especially when Rex said, “I’m looking at your resume and at your background, and we want to hire you for an IT position.” 

Theresa was floored. She hadn’t thought she’d be able to use her IT skills for missions, that she’d put those skills away when she retired. She was amazed that God would want to use her skills full-time again. 

Theresa is now the administrative and communications coordinator for the Technology and Business Solutions department at JAARS. She loves her job, though she once thought she was done working. Theresa said, “I’m so in awe of God, that he still finds me useful.”

You  can use your skills to serve the Lord! Click here to see how you might be useful in serving God’s kingdom at JAARS.