January 15, 2018

A life of ministry does not stop at retirement. Your occupation may end, but serving God is never complete. Norman (’51) and Mary (Hollingshead, ’51) Sandall have been faithfully serving the Lord together for 71 years—before they were even married!

Before coming to Omaha Baptist Bible Institute, Norman and Mary served in various church ministries together after they met through community church events. They both came to OBBI and graduated in 1951. They were married shortly after graduating, and God led them to serve on the mission field.

Norman and Mary began deputation as missionaries headed for Cuba. Although it was an arduous journey, the necessary financial support came in—along with passports and other essentials—, and the Sandalls left for the little village of Auras in eastern Cuba. Within five years of ministry there, the Sandalls saw three missionary homes built, the start of a Bible institute, 13 villages begin weekly church services, and a radio program.

As civil war and unrest in Cuba created greater threats, Norman was anonymously given plane tickets to leave Cuba with Mary and their two young boys. As Norman described it, “our exodus from Cuba—with only two sons and the clothes on our backs—was safely achieved with only a three-hour notice.”

Several months after Norman and Mary landed back in the United States, God led them to Miami, Florida, where thousands of Cubans had settled after leaving the unrest. It was in Miami that God would keep the Sandalls for 34 years of fruitful Hispanic ministry. Through God’s providence, Norman worked with several ministry organizations before being offered a property manager position at a large real estate company. The job’s flexible hours allowed Norman and Mary to work in Spanish ministries for 26 years before retiring to South Carolina where their older son lived. Although Norman had plans to enjoy the extra time that came with retirement, he soon learned ministry does not stop just because a career does.

Many short-term missions opportunities arose through their new church, and for the next 15 years of their retirement, Norman and Mary coordinated frequent trips to Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. These trips consisted of both construction and medical missions. Because of their years of ministry experience, the Sandalls provided cultural assistance and language translation in addition to other ministries—Mary in the medical field and Norman in construction. Through the counsel of their sons and family members, the Sandalls decided finally to leave South Carolina and retire in Nicaragua, where it would be easy to continue helping teams on the field.

“I have learned on this journey,” Norman explained, “that you do not have to be the sharpest tool in the tool shed to serve; that others can when you cannot. While serving in diverse cultures, your ministry can be triumphant and accepted, but you will always be the outsider. Where there is a vacuum, be ready to fill it.” Norman and Mary continue to stay contently busy with ministry in Nicaragua.