In my work, I have been exposed to all types of missionaries around the world. I have come to put the missionaries I meet in two categories: the anointed and the appointed. There is a big difference between these groups.
The anointed missionary walks differently; the appointed missionary talks differently. The anointed sees opportunities; the appointed sees roadblocks. The anointed has a God story; the appointed has a good story. The anointed has a testimony; the appointed has a title. The anointed embraces challenges; the appointed embraces comfort.
You see these same contrasts between King Saul and King David. Saul was picked because man wanted a king; David was chosen because God wanted a king.
This month, we lost an anointed servant of God, Ken Bowie. I first met Ken while he was serving as an agricultural missionary in Peru. He began his Jesus ministry in the Andes Mountains area of Cajamarca, Peru, helping farmers with crops, livestock, potable water wells and irrigation canals.
On my first day with him, he took me out in a Jeep. We have been driving for a while when he pulled off to the side of the road and said, “I think you need to unbuckle your seatbelt.” I did as he said and before I could ask why, he took the Jeep off-road, never slowing down as we started down a steep hill. Ken laughed as I bounced around like a popcorn kernel.
As we arrived in a village, Ken explained that he went into villages that had been drinking polluted water, offering to drill a well that would give them clean, safe water. During this process, the village leaders would have to meet with him. At that point, Ken would share the Gospel, the leaders would come to know Christ, and a home church would be started.
Ken was also a ham radio operator, and at one point, a terrible disease gripped the northern part of Peru. He discovered that there was a large stash of medicine that had been left behind in Iraq that could treat the people. The Army had determined that it was too costly to ship it back home, and they left it behind in a stockpile. Ken got other ham radio operators involved, and somehow, they got a ship along with people who would load that ship with the medicine and deliver it to Lima. When Ken informed the government of the ship’s pending arrival, they dropped all the normal customs processes to get the medicine to the people. That kind of miracle only happens when the anointing of God is on a person.
Ken and I also walked through some of the most difficult moments in our lives together. After 25 years of service, he was transferred from Peru to the country of Chile. Walking away from his life’s work and longtime friends to start all over again was difficult. He spent his last 10 years with that mission organization serving in the country of Chile.
Ken’s sending organization retired him, so he joined another one and kept walking out the Lord’s anointing. The pastors whom Awe Star partnered with in Peru and Chile were discipled by Ken. Once, I checked into a hotel in Piura, and the lady who ran the front desk had been led to the Lord by Ken. And by his side throughout his journey was his beautiful and delightful wife, Linda.
Ken had a Ph.D. in international agricultural/community development. This was his vehicle to open doors to show the love of Christ. Because of his anointing, Ken didn’t impact you for a moment but for a lifetime. I have hundreds of students who will testify as to how Ken Bowie touched and changed their lives. He was loved and respected by other missionaries, teams that came to serve and the people he served. You never walked away from Ken without knowing that he loved Jesus and he loved you.
Yet now, due to complications from COVID-19, an anointed one has returned home. I wept when I heard the news. As the report of his death spread across South America, all the missionaries who served with Ken spent the day in mourning. I can still hear him teaching from John 9:4, where Jesus told us, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Bowie!” We will keep working. His night has come, but our day is dawning. We will work under the same kingdom anointing he lived out so well.