I grew up in Bolton, N. C. My father worked as a laborer in the local paper company providing for our family of seven children (I was the knee baby). During summer breaks, us children and our mom would work as laborers on other people’s tobacco farms, and picked huckleberries and planted and harvested vast gardens to supplement my father’s income.
My father had a fifth-grade education, but he could read and write well enough to be an advocate for the poor and vulnerable elderly living in abject poverty around our little town. I remember his days off were often spent visiting people and talking to them about opportunities to improve their quality of life (night school, public assistance for vulnerable elderly, job opportunities, etc.) I followed him and listened as he boosted the confidence of people who thought themselves too poor, too illiterate, and unworthy to apply for a job or to go to the county social service office to apply for public assistance. Daddy used to say that every child of God deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Little did I know my dad’s advocacy and his walk with the Lord was providential in encouraging and nurturing me for a life of mission service!
Recently, having returned from a seven-month special Ebola support missionary assignment in Liberia, I visited my 86-year-old sister and shared the news that I felt called to return to Liberia to continue my mission work. She asked why I felt called to be in Liberia again after serving there for more than two decades already. I recalled with her a very special aspect of my childhood experience. My father was my inspiration!
I know for sure that when God calls you, God will provide what’s needed to be successful in fulfilling the work. I am humbled and encouraged by the outpouring of prayerful, financial, and material support from individuals, local churches, and organizations over the decades. I am amazed and comforted by the relationships and friendships made over the years that have stood the test of time and weathered various calamities, disappointments and challenges. I am encouraged by the dignity, strength and resilient nature of the Liberian people who have taught me how to live a life of hope, faith and trust in God.