70 Years on the Sea

70 Years on the Sea

Two of the widest smiles arrived at our door one Sunday morning, wearing their Sunday best. I was wearing my pajamas. Travis and Katherine Evans had come to my house to pick us up for church. While Katherine assisted my sister, Travis patiently helped me brush my teeth, comb my hair, and get dressed. It takes a lot of love and dedication to invest in children in such a way.

In my youth, my family was one of those who lived across the tracks in the less affluent side of town. Yet, that didn't matter to Travis and Katherine. They were there at our door regularly with those beautiful smiles to take us to church. This kind of Christian love transforms lives. It did for me.

Travis Evans is an incredible example of what God can do in a life committed to Him. Today, at 90-years old, Travis is a commercial fisherman. His agility, strength, and stamina are amazing.

He gets up around 3:00 a.m. in order to arrive at the pier by 4:30 a.m. Moving swiftly, often in the dark, this fisherman goes about the task of preparing all the gear and instruments. His boat, the San Francisco, has all the necessary technology including a global positioning system, fish finder, and radar. Travis' grasp of technology astounds those who work with him. A busy day on the ocean ends around 4:00 p.m. "You rest, you rust" is his motto.

For 70 years, his voyages have covered the seven seas. This fisherman survives by his daily catch of fish, including halibut, sole, flounder, rock cod, lingcod, and bass. A good catch in one day is 200-400 pounds.

As he traveled the world, especially in his younger years, Travis learned that to be successful in this profession, respect for indigenous people—their cultures and traditions—is important. The key to selling fish in a foreign market is as simple as this: give respect, sell fish.

These principles help guide him in his Christian faith. Travis would present the life-changing message of Jesus Christ without trampling upon a group's way of life as he met with people from all walks of life, at home and in world areas. '

His testimony transcends all boundaries.

I remember the Evans home well. It felt like a mini-United Nations as a rich ethnic mix of Christians came through their door. The welcome mat read "Mi Casa Es Tu Casa," or "My house Is Your House." That was, and still is, true.

My first view of the Church of the Nazarene came through my association with Travis. Not only did he rub elbows with people from around the world, but also he led missionary services, served on missionary boards, raised money for missions, and went on Work and Witness trips through his efforts at Pismo Beach, California, New Life Church of the Nazarene.

Working on the ocean is dangerous. One wrong move can be disastrous. Rogue waves claim their toll in lives each year. In 1961, Travis was sailing off the Central California Coast when he experienced a shipwreck due to weather. His only hope was to hang on to a piece of the hull and drift in to shore. Just as another shipwreck survivor, the Apostle Paul, had, Travis praised God for his safe return. Considering Travis doesn't know how to swim, his trust in God is a testament to true faith.

Life has its storms too. Tragedy has been no stranger to the Evans family. Their beloved son, Richard, died when as a young boy he fell off a dock and drowned. This devastating event led them to seek the Lord as their Savior. Each year, near the anniversary of his death, Richard's story was told with a riveting presentation leaving few dry eyes and many seekers at the altar. Little did I know how this would help me later in my own life.

My wife, Debby, and I have experienced this kind of grief with the loss of our son, Carl. It is a deep ache only grieving parents fully understand. In grief recovery, we learned that telling Carl's story brought healing. Travis and Katherine helped us with their example of telling Richard's story. Using their method, we reached out to help other grieving parents. Through the years, Carl's story has been told around the world through the Internet. This sweet couple helped us to heal the wounds of grief.

Jeremiah 29:11 is Travis' favorite Scripture:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I am grateful for life lessons from Travis, this man of the sea with a passion for Christ and Christ's mission. For this world voyager, it is not the end that is near but rather, the future.

Tex Aaron Pueschel is a photographer from Visalia, California.

Holiness Today, Mar/Apr 2013

Please note: This article was originally published in 2013. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.