The opening chapter of the Bible tells us that God made humanity in His own image (Gen. 1: 27). Although we struggle to define exactly what this means, one of the delights of working for a mission is that you get glimpses of God’s character revealed in the believers who interact with us. The mission’s supporters pray for us, phone us, write to us and send us gifts. Sometimes they live near us, but occasionally they live on the other side of the world. In this brief article we want to shine a light on the life of a supporter whose regular gifts made such a difference to the lives of pastors in Malawi and northern Mozambique.
Mr Otto Gerschow was just an ordinary Christian. He didn’t serve on the mission field. But God had given him a heart for mission, and God used his generous regular gifts to support Malawian and Mozambican mission workers – particularly in rural areas where they faced so many challenges. As you will read, Otto Gerschow’s life is inextricably linked with zm’s former Western Australian Advisory Council and the Australian mission workers who served in Malawi.
Otto was born in 1929 and grew up on a farm in Western Australia. It was a hard life with little money. During this time Otto developed a strong attention to detail and a desire to put in the maximum effort into whatever he did. Over the years he became a successful dairy and beef cattle farmer.
Otto gave his life to Jesus in his 20’s and became a faithful and committed Christian. Not only did prayer become a lifelong priority, but he also sought to live out his faith in practical ways. In the 1990’s he made 13 trips into China taking Bibles with him so that people there could have access to the Word of God. He supported many different missions. When zm’s Australian missionaries John and Gladys Simons visited his church, he got to know them and soon started supporting zm. His quiet generosity was remarkable. When buying a new car for his own family, he also bought a new vehicle for zm.
The Holden Belmont HT station wagon travelled with John and Gladys Simons by ship to South Africa. Then they drove it to Malawi for the mission’s use. Otto Gerschow served as a committee member on zm’s Western Australian Advisory Council for over 30 years between 1979 and 2010. His regular generous gifts for the needs of active and retired pastors in Malawi were so encouraging to everyone involved in the mission.
Mr Otto’s Gerschow died in August last year. He was just a humble man, but one who was made in the image of God and whose gifts and generosity were used by God to transform the lives of God’s servants in Malawi. We give thanks to God for his life of service to the Lord.