Writing about missionaries requires a delicate balance. Those serving in areas hostile to Christianity are subject to persecution, expulsion from the nation and even death if their activities are recorded in a worldwide public forum as the internet. One missionary told me government officials Google the name of foreigners. Therefore, the identity of the missionary in this article and her area of labor will not be revealed.
Instead of calling her “the missionary who will not be named”, a long and convoluted title, I have assigned a fiction name – Alice. Rod, my husband, knew Alice before I met with her at a woman’s conference to record her story. That might be an understatement. My husband dated Alice before I met and married him. Their relationship ended as her call to missions became stronger. He had no desire to be a missionary. Had they married, she would have been miserable and unfulfilled, but not because Rod is a bad husband. He would not have followed her into missions work. Instead, he has made me a happy wife. As for Alice, she paid a price to obey God.
Alice sat on the floor with the other children watching a slide show as a Methodist missionary explained each photo. During the presentation, the first whisper of her calling to missionary work gripped her heart. “I wish I were Catholic,” she said to her mother as they walked out of the church.
“Why do you wish you were Catholic?”
“Then I could be a nun,” said Alice.
Her mother’s reply was God ordained. “If you want to serve the Lord, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female or what church you attend. God will make a way.”
Alice knew that Methodist did not ordain women. Becoming a minister was not a viable option, so she did not pursue ministry. But she never forgot the Methodist missionary and the conversation with her mother.
God began to “make a way” for Alice when she was a junior in High School. Alice received a letter from her sister explaining how she came to know the Lord. Included with the letter was a booklet titled Have Your Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws. The evangelistic tract created in 1952 by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, explained the essentials of the Christian faith. In the booklet, Bright summarized the message of salvation contained in the Bible as four spiritual laws that govern our relationship with God. Alice read the booklet and then prayed the suggested prayer to receive salvation.
Several months after praying for salvation, an acquaintance at school invited Alice to a revival. God became real to Alice as she listened to the Baptist evangelist explain what it meant to have a personal relationship with God. “The Methodist church I attended was full of good, sincere people, but the services were very formal. It was more of a social gospel that did not fill my longing to draw near to God and to hear his voice,” said Alice. “When the evangelist invited people to the altar to make a public profession of faith, I went. They extended the right hand of fellowship to me. I thought I had joined the church because that is how we accepted members in the Methodist church, but I never returned.
The experience at the Baptist church brought Alice into a deeper understanding of God. But her life did not change until she went to a Baton Rouge college to study interior design. She quickly came to a crossroads during her freshman year. Join the party crowd or strive to live a life pleasing to God. She found the support to continue her walk with God in Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), a para church organization doctrinally similar to the Baptist.
When the chapter of CCC Alice joined made plans to attend a Josh McDowell Conference, lack of funds prevented her from joining them. Alice’s mentor was undaunted. She invited Alice to meet with a lawyer who helped college students attend Christian conferences. Alice felt dwarfed in the massive office she entered with her friend. They sat at a large desk facing a well groomed man. “This is the guy I told you about,” said Alice’s mentor.
“Why do you want to go to the conference?” The lawyer inquired. As Alice explained why she wanted to go, she felt uncomfortable, as though she were begging for money.
The lawyer gave her the funds she needed to attend the Dallas conference. While she was at the conference, God gave her a vision for reaching the lost. Alice learned the responsibility of Christians to spread the gospel, but she was fearful of starting conversations with strangers. The leaders of the conference gave the attendees opportunity to practice the skills they learned by sending them out to witness in small groups.
Alice’s group went to the airport. She swallowed her fear and approached a pleasant looking lady who appeared to be alone. The woman patiently listened as Alice read the four spiritual laws that explained salvation. She was almost finished with the presentation when a man joined them compounding Alice’s anxiety. Her tract was shaking by the time she reached the invitation to pray. “Would you like to pray and accept Christ as your savior,” Alice inquired.
“Actually, this is my husband, and we are the pastors of a Baptist church in town.” Alice was mortified. She thanked the couple for listening and made a quick exit.
Alice found the leader of her team and said, “I am never going to do that again.”
“Why not,” she inquired.
“I just asked a pastor and his wife to accept the Lord!”
“You know what you have to do when you fall off a horse. You get right back on and do it again.”
Alice walked down the corridor praying, “Please help me find a person who is not already a Christian.” She was drawn to a lady wearing a military uniform. “Can I talk to you?”
“Sure,” said the woman.
This time Alice left the tract with the four spiritual laws in her pocket. “We are here sharing what God has done in our lives, and I just wanted to tell you what he has done for me.” Alice shared her story and then withdrew the tract and turned to the prayer at the end. “Would you like to accept Christ as your Saviour?”
Alice smiled broadly as she explained what happened next. “That was the first time I witnessed to someone about Jesus who wasn’t already a Christian. The woman prayed to accept Christ. In my heart, I was dancing and shouting for joy.”
Alice completed her first year in college with a low grade. Discouraged that her best efforts could not lift her GPA above a 2.0, she decided to return to New Orleans and enroll in the University of New Orleans (UNO). Her grades improved at UNO, but she quit a year short of graduation to work in retail.
Her spiritual walk had begun in a Methodist Church. She found salvation in a Baptist Church. She attended an interdenominational church while in college. By the time she returned home, she did not know what church to attend. Until she started dating a friend of her brothers.
Alice’s boyfriend invited her to attend the Easter service at his Pentecostal church. “Alice, the service will be a little bit different from what you are accustomed. This time you might be a little distracted, so promise yourself that you will go a second time.”
“The service was very different,” said Alice. But my experience that morning later proved to me the Bible is true.” In the middle of the service a woman stood and spoke in another language. To Alice, the woman appeared crazy and sounded like she was hollering nonsense. She thought the congregation was being quiet so they would not embarrass her family. Alice’s boyfriend whispered in her ear, “She is giving a message in tongues.” After the service, he explained that the Pastor had interpreted what the woman said. (1 Corinthians 14:22-25)
Alice was intrigued and decided to attend the evening service. The preaching was so rich she walked to the altar with many others seeking a closer relationship with God. As she drove home after the service, she prayed, “Lord, I wish I had the words to thank you for bringing me to this church.” Suddenly, she began to speak in tongues. Alice covered her mouth trying to stop the flow of words. As soon as she arrived home, she opened her Bible to research speaking in tongues.
She read the last scripture she could find on the subject and then closed her Bible and prayed, “Lord, I don’t know anything about this. But I just read if a son ask for a fish, his father will not give him a snake. If this is from you, it’s OK. If it’s not, I don’t want to have anything to do with it,” (Luke 11:11-13). Immediately, the presence of God filled the room. Alice lost track of time. When she opened her eyes, she was singing in tongues, and the clock showed a half hour had elapsed. She stood and joyfully danced around her living room.
“I already believed in God, but I was looking for a relationship. I found that relationship when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. We can have encounters with God that are incredibly intimate, holy and precious. I joined the Pentecostal church and volunteered my services. That is when I met your husband. We both worked in Children’s Church. There were a ton of kids in those services. I also started an outreach team to visit youth who came to the church and once a month we went to Bourbon Street to share Jesus. ”
One night, Alice sat in her living room with both her Bible and her Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible open. While researching scriptures, she sensed the presence of the Lord. She sat back and said, “Lord, what is it?
The Holy Spirit said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
“The only thing that concerned me was the word ‘preach’. In my mind, women did not preach the gospel. But I knew it was God’s voice. I looked up the word preach in my Strong’s Concordance. The definition said ‘share the good news.’ I thought, I can do that. So I prayed, ‘Lord, I know that you are speaking to me, but I don’t understand. I am going to put this on a shelf and when it’s time you will bring it to pass.’”
Three weeks later, she was standing in the church foyer talking to Sharon, a friend she worked with in ministry. Their pastor approached and said, “Sharon, would you like to go on an Ambassadors in Missions (AIM) trip as a representative from our church.” Alice froze. Her heart beat faster.
“I have to work. I can’t go,” replied Sharon.
The pastor looked at Alice. “What are you doing this summer?”
“I have to work too,” Alice sighed.
“I want you to pray about going on this trip and then make an appointment with me.”
God’s command to preach the gospel echoed in her thoughts. Alice could not ignore her pastor’s instructions. She prayed and scheduled an appointment. During the meeting, her pastor explained the options for raising money. Alice walked out of his office discouraged. She did not want to ask for donations.
She turned to her parents for advice. Her father’s temper flared. “God helps those who help themselves.” Both her parents were extremely upset that she would consider asking for “charity”. Alice said to her parents, “If God provides would it be alright for me to go?” Her parents ended the conversation without answering her question.
When the deadline arrived to pay for the trip, the pastor called Alice to his office. “I won’t be able to go,” she said. Then she told him what the Lord said to her hoping he could explain what God was trying to do in her life. The pastor called the finance office and told them to write Alice a check to pay for her trip.
The AIM team went to South America for twelve days. Communism had recently overthrown the government and established martial law prohibiting gatherings of more than two or three people. God gave the AIM team favor. They were allowed into the country and given permission to hold public meetings to preach the gospel. Alice went door-to-door with translators sharing the good news and inviting people to the evening services.
One night, she saw a well-dressed woman standing behind a tree. Alice shared the gospel with her and the woman prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. (Twenty-eight years later, the woman contacted the denomination that sponsored the AIM trip looking for the young girl who led her to salvation. Alice learned that woman hid behind the tree because she was wealthy and well-known. She didn’t want the communist to learn she had attended the meeting. She later started a church that grew to 5,000 members.)
Alice returned from the mission trip thinking she had fulfilled God’s command. Until, she visited Sharon to share a lemon coke. “Alice,” said Sharon, “Did you get a call to be a missionary?” Alice was about to say “No” but stopped and thought I need to pray about that.
One Sunday, she was sitting in the church balcony contemplating missionary work. She felt strongly that the Lord wanted to say something to her. The pastor finished his sermon. She hurried to the altar. “Whatever you want me to do, I will do,” she prayed. His answer surprised her. “Quit your job and go to Christ for the Nations.” His command troubled her. She had been working eight years, but she didn’t have enough in savings to quit her job and relocate to Texas. Once again, Alice placed the matter in God’s hands trusting him to make a way for her.
A few weeks later, she was making sales calls. One of her customers was a devout Catholic. As they chatted, she mentioned that she might quit her job to pursue missionary work. The man gave her enough money to pay her first year tuition. Alice gave away everything she owned except her car and enrolled in Christ for the Nations.
The school required students to go on a mission trip during the summer or take additional courses. She had opted to attend summer classes and work so she could save money for the next semester. At the end of the school year, the academic dean asked Alice to go on a mission trip he was organizing. Lacking the necessary finances she declined. During the semester break, she returned home to talk to her pastor about her growing belief that she was called to be a missionary.
At the end of their conversation, he asked how much the mission trip with Christ for the Nations would cost. Alice was aghast. She had not come to ask for money. Her pastor insisted. She told him how much she needed. Once again, he picked up the phone and called the church’s finance office. She left with the money she needed for another missions trip. The trip to Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Africa confirmed to Alice that God had placed a calling on her life. She returned home convinced God was in control of her life, and she was called to be a Missionary.
My husband joined us. Twenty-five years had elapsed since they had parted ways. I turned my camera off, so they could talk. We showed Alice pictures of our children and grandchildren. She wistfully commented that she thought she would have married by now, but it never happened. Following a calling cost Alice the joys of marriage, but she has no regrets. She was eager to return to her island.
“I go inter-island instead of interstate. I have been around the world and back again many times, and I love what I do,” said Alice. “If you follow the Lord’s plan for your life, you will never have regrets. That is the only place you will ever know true peace and contentment.”