Turning 65 used to mean it was time to trade in the company car for a rocking chair, but today organizations recognize the value of wisdom and life experience gained by older people. TourMagination, a Mennonite tour company founded in 1970, has long recognized that many of its tour leaders are on their second—or even third—career.
John Ruth has led tours since 1974. With a Ph.D. from Harvard, Ruth was a professor of English and has published many books, articles and documentaries, offering insight into the lives of Mennonites, Hutterites and Amish. This wealth of knowledge makes him a gifted storyteller who brings Anabaptist history to life.
Former Mennonite Central Committee leader Edgar Stoesz is another key tour leader. His Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) assignments, as well as his service as the chief executive officer of Mennonite Indemnity, his experience with Habitat for Humanity and other boards, and the books he has written provide a deep well of experience to draw upon. Now 80, Stoesz recently led a tour to South America, answering questions from tour members about the Menno Colony in Paraguay, and vividly describing its suffering and reasons for hope.
Naomi and John Lederach are also senior tour leaders with TourMagination. Their experience in pastoral ministry and counselling makes them ideally suited as tour leaders, ready to listen and to share insights. After serving with MCC, the Lederachs continue to be committed to education and development, and are passionate about sharing their experiences with tour members.
“Tour leaders such as John, Naomi and John, and Edgar offer so much to our clients,” says TourMagination owner and president Wilmer Martin. “They bring so much life experience and knowledge to a tour. People say their spontaneous sharing is like a travelling seminar.”
These senior tour leaders also inspire older tour members to continue to learn, grow and explore the world. In 2009, a 91-year-old man travelled with TourMagination, while a couple in their mid-80s joined TourMagination’s Mystery Tour.
Proverbs 16:31 says, “Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained by a righteous life.”
TourMagination values the wisdom gained in a righteous life and has found a way for senior tour leaders to pass that insight along to others. Faith is integrated into all aspects of TourMagination tours, says Martin.