I am surprised at the different ways in which this proverb appears in so many languages. Somehow this is a pessimistic assessment of old age. Old age becomes closed to new ideas, old age is not willing to learn and change.
Yet, when this proverb is proven false, when there are people who do new things, it is such a splendid thing to watch.
The beginning of our Baptist Church in our village was due to an old man who was already in his seventies. For many years I would see him and his wife go to their nearby garden and then come in the evening carrying produce on their backs or baskets. Because we were taught to respect the elders of the village, greet them and ask them if we could help them, I had already talked with them before my parents became Baptists.
A team of two Baptists came to our village in the early fifties and approached this affable, old man. They presented the Gospel to him and as he listened to them he confessed that he had never read the Bible. They left a Bible for him to read, and upon their return he was ready to receive Jesus as His personal Savior. Because of what happened to him, he decided that the best thing that he could do was to open his house and to give one of his rooms as the place for the Baptist Church to meet. His house was in the perfect spot – two houses from the local school, three houses from the local communist headquarters and 6 houses from the cultural center.
This gentleman was the first preacher that I heard. Every Sunday he would read a portion from the Scripture and then explain it to us. Many times he would struggle to read because of his poor eyesight, but in his explanation one could sense that he was in love with the author of the Bible. He would also pray that God would raise other people from our village who would come and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I listened to his preaching from the age of 6 to 12. By this time, his children decided that he could no longer take care of his house and that he should move in with them. They sold the house and we moved our church to another location. Within less than one year from selling his house, he was dead.
During my life, I have been blessed to hear hundreds of preachers. Some were very memorable, and about some I can tell you the text that they read and how they developed their sermons. Yet somehow in the pantheon of preachers, I place this simple person who at an age when people say that one cannot learn a new thing, he was found by Jesus Christ. This encounter made all things new, and the remaining years of his life he preached about his new love – Jesus Christ, his Savior and his Lord.