Would you ever become a real missionary? I am not talking about someone who goes for two to six weeks, then they get to go back to the comforts of home. I am talking about the people who go and stay. I am talking about the people who give up finanacial, cultural, social, and family security to serve God and mankind, the ones everyone thinks has rocks in their heads, but their dedication to God and mankind calls them to dedicate their lives to a higher purpose. They sleep on floors. They drive second hand cars, if they even have a car. They are separated from all the people they have known in their lives. They have to learn a new language. They have to learn a new way of doing everying, even cooking and eating. They may be washing their clothes by hand in the bath tub. They may have to deal with drunk policemen with guns, gypsies trying to steal from them, Muslims wishing to kill them, etc. They do it all because they know how much people need the teachings they carry to go to Heaven, yes, but also to live a decent life here on earth too. They influence societies for the better. They help alcoholics stop drinking. They help put families back together. They teach skills that help people make a living, all free of charge. What would you do if someone asked you to do it? When I was asked to do it, a very dedicated Christian lady said to me she enjoyed her “creature comforts” too much to ever do it. I am privileged because in my life because I have known many of these dedicated people. and when I realized that people don’t know who they are, I realized I wanted to introduce some of them to you and what they have done.
The first missionary I ever met was from England. He was working in Morocco, an Islamic country. He paid his own bills. He was the French teacher at my school when I was growing up. He had a missionary compound where his house, a row of rooms he used as Bible classrooms, and a fountain were. He lived in my neighborhood, and I attended Mr. Acton’s Bible classes. He taught me wonderful teachings about a God who was my loving father wanting me to be good. I was a child. He also taught me that Jesus was the good shepherd who wanted to help me be good. I had an enormous amount of respect for him. I saw him as a spiritual giant, but I saw his heart break one day. Outside his compound, there was a man walking down the street behind a woman beating a woman with a whip, and I asked him what was happening. He told me the woman had come to Bible classes, and that was her husband. Her husband was a Muslim and disproved, so was beating his wife with a whip.
After I left Morocco, I followed the progress of missionaries there, and it is very hard. I read a diary of a missionary telling a story about a baptism. They said a woman wanted to be baptized, but they were afraid to do it because of the Muslims. What they did ended up sounding like something out of James Bond. They met at an inconspicuous spot changing cars several times before they finally knew they weren’t being followed, and then they finally baptized the woman in a river. Persecution of Christians in Muslim countries is a real thing. When I lived in northern Nigeria, there was a high school student beat with a whip by a Muslim principle because the boy had been studying the Bible. People who work in Muslim countries truly need to be respected and prayed for.
The next missionary I want to introduce you to is an American man named Wendell Broome. He was a missionary a long time before I ever met him. He told me an amazing story about a man named Essien from southern Nigeria. He said Essien was a policeman with four wives. He liked to study and was taking correspondence courses in many different subjects like Math, Science, etc. from Germany from the sister in law of Hitler. He asked her if she had a Bible course to send him, but she didn’t. However, she had an idea. She went to a church there in Berlin and asked them for a correspondence course. They didn’t have one, but they contacted a church in Tennessee in the U. S. A. The church put together a correspondence course especially for Essien. Essien took the course, he became a Christian, and he got rid of all but one of his wives trying to please God. He was serious. He began teaching other people about God, but the task was just too big for him because too many people were wanting to be taught, and he was only one man. He called out for help to the church in Tennessee.
The church in Tennessee asked Wendell Broome to go to Nigeria to help Essien. Wendell went, and he and Essien traveled together from village to village converting whole villages at a time to Christianity. Nigeria was known as “the white man’s grave,” but Wendell went anyway because it was just that important. He went to a land where everyone lived in mud huts, had a lack of electricity, no phones, had trouble getting clean water, and that was full of mosquitoes carrying malaria. Wendell had to boil and filter all his drinking water because there was no water that didn’t carry disease. A people movement began because Christianity was so popular. People became Christians by the hoards, and more missionaries were sent.
The people looked to the missionaries to fix their problems. They began knocking on the door of one of the missionary wives when they got sick. She was not a doctor or a nurse, but a compassionate person. She bandaged their wounds. She helped them in whatever way she could. There were just too many people coming for help, so the missionaries called for a nurse to join them, and then a doctor, and it grew into Nigerian Christian Hospital.
Wendell eventually left Nigeria. I met him at a World Mission’s Workshop in Pennsylvania when I was in college. He already had completely gray hair then, but I don’t know how old he was. The Bible Correspondence courses made by the church in Tennessee became known as World Bible School and have been sent out by many Christians to people all over the world. Wendell continued working with World Bible School, doing follow up, and going back to Nigeria to train preachers. He wound up teaching at Abilene Christian University, but always went back to Nigeria and knew what was happening with Christianity in Nigeria. The last time I talked to him was about was about 13 years ago, and he was still giving me good advice. He spent his life sacrificing his life and giving good advice to others. As an older man, he spent time in Kiev doing mission work after Communism fell in Eastern Europe.
Another missionary I want to tell you about died this past year. His name was Joe Betts. I met him when I was in college too. When I was an exchange student/missionary helper in Japan, Joe and his wife Ruth were great inspirations to the young missionaries. We called them Ma and Pa Betts. They went to Japan when the streets were made from dirt. Ruth Betts told me about a church camp they went to where they were sleeping in tents and it was raining. When I went to church camp in Japan, there were log cabins. The camp had come a long way. When I knew them, they were connected to two different churches in Japan. They had gone to Tokyo, to Ochonomizu, and began a church. They also lived in Ibaraki, two hours north of Tokyo, where Joe taught at Ibaraki Christian University that was begun right after World War II, and Ruth taught at Ibaraki Christian Junior College. Joe Betts was an astounding Bible teacher! I had a Minor Prophets class with him that I thought would probably be completely boring, but to my delight, and thanks to Joe, it wasn’t. He always had something witty to say to help us remember things he taught, and I still remember the things he said because they were so good. Japanese is a really hard language for foreigners, but Joe preached in Japanese. There was no language school for him to learn Japanese like the new missionaries in Japan attend today. He learned it from studying with the Japanese people and making friends. His Japanese grammar and pronounciation was bad, but he got his message across. There was a time that he preached a gospel meeting I attended. He preached every night of the week. I heard he didn’t eat all week, but he didn’t want anyone to know. He was fasting because he wanted his mind only on the scriptures and the work he was trying to accomplish, to melt the hearts of some of the most unbending people on the planet. He had a hard job without many rewards because Japanese hardly become Christians, but he was determined not to give up, and helped to build two churches in Japan, and he and Ruth spent their lives doing just that. Many missionaries like to go where there are many conversions and love the glory to reporting lots of baptisms to the States, but Joe and Ruth were among a people who had a bias against Christianity and had been known to persecute Christians, but it didn’t stop them. They were determined to plant churches.
Another missionary people should know about is Dale MacAnulty. Dale and Imogene MacAnulty were in France for many years. However, when I met them was in Romania. They were the first located missionaries to go to Romania after the Romanian revolution. There were many who went to Romania for a few weeks, but very few could stay. Romanian life was almost impossible. When my family was sent to Romania as missionaries, the elders of the church knew how hard it was and said to us that other missionaries had tried and couldn’t stay but their initial instructions were for us to go and figure out what it took to live in Romania. There was a man named Larry I met there who was always coming into Romania, traveling around, and going back to America. I asked him why he didn’t stay. He said his wife would never go for it because the life was too hard. When we visited Larry in America, he loved his creature comforts too much. While people like Dale and Imogene MacAnulty were in Romania having trouble getting heat and hot water, Larry was in the States with a fancy bathtub with jets, but still being paid as a full time missionary. There was no food in Romania when Dale and Imogene went. We went a year later, and there was still no food. They were in Bucharest, and we were in Sibiu. We had to make trips into Hungary just to get basic things like flour, sugar, eggs, powdered milk, toilet paper, etc. There was no food in the stores. There were bullet holes in all the buildings left from the revolution. Drunk men were passed out in the middle of the bumpy dirt roads in the city. There were hot water heaters that you had to start a fire in so you could have a shower. If you lived in the apartment buildings like Imogene and Dale, if you got hot water in the winter, you couldn’t get heat, but if you got heat, you couldn’t get hot water. They had to boil all their drinking water because the pipes in Bucharest were so old they carried disease. Dale and Imogene began the first church of Christ in Romania, and God enabled me to be the translator for beginning the second. Dale and Imogene dedicated the rest of their adult life to the difficult task of bringing the joy of understanding God to the Romanian people. They were not some of the many who ran into Romania for a few weeks, then went home proclaiming they were missionaries, but they stayed and dedicated their lives to the work. Without them, the work in Bucharest would not have taken place because there would not have been a solid anchor to hold it in place. There were many, many broken families because of Communism, and the families needed to be healed. Christianity came and made a difference for so many people!
At this point in time, the MacAnultys are retired and living with their kids in Abilene, Texas. I thought Imogene would remember me because she and Dale were the first located missionaries in Romania, and my husband and I were the second, but there were so many families coming in and out of Romania, and she is getting older, she didn’t know who I was. We are Facebook friends, and she was always commenting on the wonderful Romanian posts I put on my Facebook page because she still loves Romania, but there was so much money spent by so many American churches sending people for just a few weeks here and there to Romania that they overwhelmed Imogene, and she had no idea who the other permanent missionaries were. I tried speaking to her in Romanian, and she had to tell me that Romanian was just too hard for her. She spent several years of her adult life in a country where she couldn’t speak the language because it was just too hard because she loves God and loves the people. The lack of communication nor the heartbreak of not seeing her grown kids in America often enough nor the inconvenience of lack of food in the grocery stores, boiling drinking water, and the lack of hot water when heat came didn’t deter her. She put up with it all so the church in Bucharest could exist and people could know God.
The last person I want to tell you about is in S. Korea. He was one of the many American soldiers who came to Korea during the Korean war. He loved Korea so much that when he got out of the military, he came back. The roads were dirt. The huge companies and towering buildings that dominate Korea now didn’t exist because Korea is a modern day economic miracle. Korea went from the poorest country in the world to one of the richest countries in just a very short time, and Malcom Parsley was in Korea when it happened. Malcom came back to Korea to teach Bible. He came back with part of a team of missionaries. They began a medical clinic, a benevolence house, a university, and an organization that sends Bible correspondence courses all over Korea. When I saw pictures of the early days of Korea Christian University, it was out in the country on a dirt road, and the first classrooms were conducted in trailers out in a field, and then they built their first building which is now the library at Korea Christian University. Malcom Parsely functioned as a Bible professor at Korea Christian University, and later he was president for a short time. He saw Korea grow up around him. He saw the church of Christ begin in Korea and grow up around him. His wife couldn’t handle the life in Korea and left him. He eventually found a Korean wife after that. He built his own house, and now as an old man, greedy people threaten to take it away from him. He built his house on land belonging to the mission, and the mission became Korea Christian University. All the other members of his mission team left Korea, but Malcom stayed. He made his life in Korea. He wanted to keep teaching about God. He wanted to stabilize the church more. He is in his 80’s now. KCU is several buildings in a very busy section of Seoul now. The medical clinic and the benevolence center are gone, but the
Bible correspondence office still exists. Malcom is the resident missionary of KCU. His doctor has told him that he needs several naps during the day because of his age, but he doesn’t let it deter him. He is still trying. He writes articles and publishes tracks in his office. He goes to one church of Christ every Sunday morning, then drives to another one in the afternoon, and then either preaches or finds someone to preach saying he is trying to develop leadership. Malcom speak Korean, a very hard language, but not well enough for the people to want to hear him preach in Korean. He still preaches with a translator. He has never given up, and will likely die in Korea, never going back to America to live again.
There have been people like these heroes sent all over the globe, but people don’t know who they are. My heart was actually hurt when I mentioned Wendell Broome’s name to someone who should have known about great missionaries, but they had no idea who he was, but now you have heard the name of a true hero of Christianity who went to “the white man’s grave,’ freeing people from the fear of the Juju man (the witch doctor), coming face of face with cannibals, and making a huge difference in the world. I know many more, but these are some of the oldest. These people are like Mother Theresa. They dedicate their lives to a cause that is greater than all of us, the cause of letting God use their hands and their voices no matter the personal cost. They have given up more than you can imagine. However, these are the lucky ones. I have a friend who went with her husband as a missionary to South America for several years, and after they came back to the States and her husband was preaching, he had a heart attack and died. They had dedicated their lives to God and knew nothing else, and she ended up in the street until she contacted me from a homeless shelter, and I sent a friend out to find her and get her where she needed to be. She is now living with her kids who were overseas as missionaries like me when she ended up in the street. People like these should be honored. They should be remembered for the great things they have done that most people would never even consider caring enough to do for others. These people truly love God and love mankind, and mankind needs to know these heroes exist. You never see these heroes because they are in other countries serving God, influencing societies, and changing people’s lives for the better.