My great aunt Allene was a missionary nurse for a few years. By the time I knew her very well, her memory had begun to be a bit shaky, and she died more than 10 years before I even thought seriously about going into missions. If I had known where she had served as a mission nurse, I had forgotten. Now, I would be extremely curious about a friend or relative who served in the mission field. Back then, I guess my interest was less, or my knowledge of parts of the world were more limited. More recently I was curious and I tried to see if I could websearch an answer, but to no avail. Allene’s generation is long gone, and she had no children, so I was not sure who I could ask.
However, I was looking at some old slides I have (looking into ways to digitize them). I realized that I had a few slides from Allene and of them, there were four from her time in the mission field.
I was surprised to find that she served at Tura Missions Hospital (or now Tura Christian Hospital) in the West Garo Hills of Northeast India. I have many friends from Northeast India, including people from the same state as the hospital, and some even from the regional tribe.
So what? I don’t know. It made me think. Allene came from a little tiny rural church in the Great Lakes region of the United States (I was raised in the same little church). Then God called her, and she responded by going to one of the most remote areas of India. The difficulty of getting there would have been enormous and the culture shock must have been huge. That place would have seemed so strange and distant. Yet now things have changed. Grandchildren or perhaps great grandchildren of people that Allene cared for are now serving God throughout the world… some of whom are friends and colleagues.
I know in Evangelical circles it is often in vogue to disrespect social ministry (a foolish and ignorant controversy). Others may still respect social ministry, but consider missions hospitals to be without benefit in today’s world. That may or may not be. But my great aunt did good as God gave her skills and passion to do and serve, and she did it faithfully.
Evangelicals also like to say that “God has no grandchildren” (meaning that conversion is an individual thing). But God has used the previous generations as an example and as faithful servants, allowing Him to use their grandchildren and great grandchildren to change the world. It feels good to know that one of my relatives was a part of that.