The Third Age

By Mike Shamy

I recently came across what was for me a new term: “Third Age.” The Third Age has been defined as that period of life when people emerge from the imperatives of earning a living and/or bringing up children and may be able to look forward to 20 or more years of healthy life. 

There are many people in our Navigator Worldwide Partnership who, like me, came to Christ in the 1960s and early 1970s. We were in our late teens or early 20s. And here we are all these years later entering the “Third Age.” 

What will we do with this season of life? Will we keep growing in Christlikeness? Health permitting, will we continue to serve Christ and love people, irrespective of any titles or positions we once occupied?

Brazilian Navigators Osvaldo and Lenir Simões were among the very first to come to Christ through the Navigator work in Brazil, which started in the early 1960s. After they were married, it became clear to everyone that God had gifted them to work among non-believers and to help believers grow in Christ. Over the past four decades, God has used them among university students and professionals.

Now in their late 70s, they continue to experience God enabling them to serve many people around Brazil. Based in the southern city of Porto Alegre, they lead people of all ages into deep engagement with the Scriptures and spend extensive time mentoring friends.

Osvaldo and Lenir have seen the following words from Psalm 92 become a reality in their lives: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green . . .

For Lenir, the key to this promise of bearing fruit in the Third Age is to stay “planted in the house of the Lord” throughout the course of life. Trees can’t bear fruit unless they are well-planted and nourished, and neither can people.

“For me, the most important thing is my relationship with God,” she says. “From Him comes my energy, my vigor, my disposition to serve.”

Osvaldo adds that despite the cultural changes in Brazil since the 1960s, he and Lenir have adamantly pursued two biblical principles.

“First is to make sure that we are teaching sound doctrine. I pray daily that not one word would come from my mouth that isn’t based on God’s Word. . . . The second factor is to sustain and protect our vision for reaching the lost.”

God has given Osvaldo and Lenir the opportunity in this “Third Age” to serve teens, young married couples, seasoned professionals, and those about to retire. This was evident in early September when four generations of Brazilians participated in a Navigator gathering in Southern Brazil. Young people come to them the way grandchildren seek counsel from grandparents. Couples with toddlers seek advice from them about childrearing. For those in their 60s, Osvaldo and Lenir continue to be godly role models and peers.

Osvaldo often cites Proverbs 20:29 as a key verse for this generational interdependency. The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

“I always tell the young people that I need their strength and energy, but I also remind them that they need my gray hair!” says Osvaldo. “And so, what is it that we need to have in common? Humility. We all need to recognize that we need to walk through life together.”

God’s faithfulness to the ongoing expansion of His kingdom has been clearly evident to Osvaldo and Lenir throughout their many years of service. They know that God will carry the Gospel message forward into the next generations after they are gone.

“Our hope is in the fact that this work is not going to end,” says Osvaldo. “The Gospel is not going to stop with us. . . . This Word was preached to Abraham and Noah, and now it is the same Word that we have received today. This excites me! I am going to die, but God’s Word will continue on forever.”

May God give all of us who are entering the “Third Age” the heart to continue to know Christ and to make Him known. Our best days are before us!
 
Mike Shamy was born in New Zealand. Mike and his wife, Audrey, became Navigator staff in 1980. From 1989 to 1996 Mike led and coached ministries in New Zealand. In 1999 he led the U.S. Metro Mission. Mike joined the International Executive Team in 2004 and is co-author of The Insider.