Single and afraid, missionary finds courage to work in Amazon
    February 2 2015 by Laura Fielding, IMB media

    When Kathy thought about the Amazon region, all she could picture were anacondas, piranhas and jaguars. She had zero interest in living in such a place.
    But after Kathy prayed for unreached people groups in the Amazon jungle for 10 years, God showed her that’s exactly where He wanted her to go – so she could reach those people with the gospel message.
    God has led Kathy, a single 63-year-old missionary, through a journey of obedience and courage so she could share His love with unreached peoples in the Amazon.


    When I grow up…

    Kathy was raised in a Christian home, the second of four kids. “I was the most introverted,” Kathy recalls. “When people would come to our house to visit, I would run and hide behind the doors because I didn’t want to talk with them.
    “But even at that, I know God had a plan for my life even when I was very young.”
    Her parents were very involved in their church, First Baptist of Henryville, Indiana, and her mother was an active member of their Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). As a four-year-old “Sunbeam,” a former WMU children’s missions education program, Kathy remembers flipping through a booklet while her teacher talked about a missionary in Africa. She could not read yet, but the photo of the missionary her teacher spoke of captured her attention.
    “And here [the missionary] was, holding a stack of Bibles in her arms and she had a line of children following her, and they were going into a thatched-roof little church building,” she remembers. “And so I just pointed to that picture and I said to my teacher, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up.’”


    IMB photo by Wilson Hunter
    Kathy, an IMB missionary in the Amazon region, makes a short canoe trip to visit some local believers in the jungle. From the location where she is staying while ministering in this area, she normally walks to visit these people. But during rainy season, the river swells and some paths must be traveled by canoe.


    In college, Kathy studied music, and then, still feeling God’s call to full-time ministry, eventually attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
    During one of her first seminary classes, Kathy’s professor asked the class to write down what they wanted to do in their future – their life goal in one sentence.
    “I just wrote down, well, I would like to … travel around working with small churches with their music programs,” she says. “And I kept that piece of paper with me.”


    What are your needs?

    After graduating from seminary, Kathy continued to feel called to serve as an international missionary. She contacted the Foreign Mission Board (now called the International Mission Board) to start the application process.
    At that point, Kathy remembers her home church pastor telling her: “I don’t want you to go onto the mission field as a single.”
    Kathy responded: “Yeah, well, I don’t either.”
    Kathy’s pastor asked her to take some time to pray that God would give her a husband so that she could go on the mission field with a spouse. Honoring his request, Kathy took time and prayed for a month about it.
    But she went back to her pastor and said, “I did pray, but what I was thinking is if I pray for God to give me a husband and at this point in my life, I don’t really need a husband – what am I going to do with him?”
    Her pastor laughed. He then got serious and responded: “What you need to do then is pray that God will show you what your needs are. If you don’t think you need a husband, then what are your needs?”
    And so Kathy took another month to pray again. She went back to her pastor and told him: “What God has shown me is that I need to obey Him, and He is calling me into missions. And I’m single but God knows that, and so I’m going to go.”
    And he said, “Well, you have my blessing.”
    As Kathy progressed to the point of choosing an overseas assignment, she was faced with looking through a list of possibilities where she might serve. With her background in music, there were many job descriptions across the world that fit her skill set.
    But one in particular caught her eye. In South America, a missionary was needed to travel around working with small churches in their music programs – the same wording as her goal she had written down in seminary and carried with her all these years.
    “So I just put my finger on that and I said, ‘This is it. This is where God wants me to go,’ because that’s exactly what was in my heart that I wanted to do for years,” she says.

    Strength in weakness

    In 1985, Kathy left for South America, and became immersed in her country and language school.
    “I’m very much an introvert,” Kathy says. “I still am, and that’s why I say that anything that is happening in my life has totally been God, because I know that I could not do any of this by myself.”
    Kathy struggled in language school – “it really hit me because I was a single, very introverted, and I was living alone on the ground floor in a small apartment,” which was next to a seedy bar where patrons openly used drugs.
    “Around my apartment building was a wall with broken glass on the top, and then I had bars on my windows, and so I was afraid,” Kathy says. “I just thought, ‘This is crazy. I feel like I’m in jail.’ … And I can remember just falling on my knees and just praying, ‘God, help me through this.’”
    Kathy was so shaken that she talked with her supervisor, who told her, “If Satan can get you when you’re a ‘baby’ missionary, then he’s got you and you’ll go home.”
    But Kathy did not want to go home. She prayed that “God would make me strong like a lion.”
    She adopted the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (ESV)
    “That has helped me through the years and it got me through language school, it’s knowing that God’s power was with me and that even in my weakness, He was making me strong,” Kathy said.
    Soon enough, her year of language school was finished, and she moved on to her role in music. She has now been serving in South America for 30 years.
    “I just feel humbled that God wants to use me, or has considered to use me in this particular region here with these particular people,” Kathy says. “I just feel honored to be a part of His work, and I want to do it in the best way that I can so that more people can hear His Word.”
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Story originates from where it is part of a six-story series.)

    2/2/2015 2:10:50 PM by Laura Fielding, IMB media | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Amazon jungle, IMB, missionary

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