A Missionary from the Grand Tradition
Sitting in her office at the Institute of Hindu Studies in Pasadena. California, Henrietta Watson fondly touches the wristwatch she was given nearly 45 years ago when she graduated from the Missionary Medical Institute in Canada.
The timepiece, like its owner, has been consistent throughout many years of service. It has measured the moments of Henrietta's life, which has been punctuated by the timeliness of God's guidance
Graduation day 1940 marked for Henrietta not only the completion of her medical training but also news of her appointment as a missionary with the Scandinavian Alliance Mission (SAM, now TEAM The Evangelical Alliance Mission) and a pledge of long term support from the Peoples Church in Toronto, fastened by her friend, Oswald J. Smith.
A former public school teacher and a 1939 graduate of Prairie Bible Institute, Henrietta had spent the previous 20 years preparing herself to fulfill a missions commitment she made at the age of eight. Her acceptance by SAM came none too soon: the cut off age for new missionary candidates was 28, and Henrietta's twenty eighth birthday was just a few months away.On June tO, 1942, with the world besieged by war. Henrietta began a 50 day voyage from New York to Bombay. Although her passage was threatened by an enemy submarine and the captain's reluctance to take her beyond South Africa, Henrietta remained undaunted.
Having overcome numerous obstacles before leaving North America, Henrietta began her missionary service in India with a well developed sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's leading and a hard earned resistance to human attempts to redirect her course.
During times of difficulty or critical decision making, the Lord had spoken to Henrietta with unmistakable clarity and specificity. Even today her hands move deftly through the pages of her heavily marked Bible as she quickly turns to Scriptures God has given her for direction in particular situations. Her eyes moisten as the relives the year she spent trudging the streets and piers of New York, searching for a ship to take her to India at a time when most missionaries already in India were praying for a ship to get them out.
During this delay, the Lord spoke to Henrietta from Isaiah 30:18:
"The LORD longs to he gracious to you: he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
It was during this long wait that Henrietta was able to minister to her dying father. He received assurance of his salvation only three days before she left Canada.
Henrieltas varied service in India included work among the caste people, gypsies and tribals, as well as other people groups. After forty years in India she returned to Canada in tO$2.
In 1983 she came to the U.S. Center for World Mission where she serves the Institute of Hindu Studies as a secretary, receptionist, book editor, interviewer, and counselor to young men and women entering cross cultural ministries.
Lately the Lord has been speaking to Henrietta about the heritage He has promised His people ¬the nations of the world. "That's what the Center is all about!" Henrietta declares as she turns excitedly from Psalm 1:7 8 to Psalm 111:6, and then to portions of Psalm 149. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is commun burning His timely message to and through this marvelous woman.
The story of a lifetime commitment to missions when most of us are dreaming of retirement.
Hailing from York. Pennsylvania,
I/ic Hendrickson, age 45, and his wife Judy. 43, are a testimony to the truth that you may never be too old to enter full time missionary service! In fact. their story is typical of a growing number of middle aged Christians. Mission Frontters Jim Stewart interviewed them over lunch at the USCWM campus dinning room. Ml": How did the Lord lead you into all this? Vie: For me it started with my commitment to the Lord at 31 years of age a little later in life than many. We found a church where we ended up being exposed to all kinds of mission programs¬ both home and overseas. In fact, our church applies better than half its total budget to missions.
I think the first exposure that started us on our present course was a week long mission awareness seminar in 1981. Judy: We always spent the month before our annual church mission conference concentrating on prayer i'or missions. That year our pastor really challenged us to pray that God would send workers from our church into the harvest.
I remember going to one of those prayer meetings and saying to myself "Well, this is not hard at all!" I was really praying in earnest when I got such a solid conviction. God was asking me, "What about yourself?'
I was willing to open myself to God's leading and all kinds of things happened really fast! Vie: Our conference chairman spoke and pointed out that they were staring a new mission to the Philippines and that our church, through its affiliation with SEND International, hadjoined with at least two other mission agencies for a joint missionary effort among Muslims.
This, we felt, was our calling.
MIT: how is your church able to set aside more than half of its budget for missions? Vie: Our church has made missions a priority since about 1955 and now supports about 40 mission efforts ranging from prison ministries in York to missions all over the globe.
Presently, we are concentrating on unreached peoples, MF: What kind 0f timetable are you on, personally? Judy: Well, our daughter, Susan (22), is married, and Karen (20) will probably be married soon, and both will stay home.
Kimberly (15) and David (13) will he going with us. So our timetable is as much tied to theft completion of the school year in June as anything else. MU: Of what significance is the age factor turning out to be? Vie: Part of the restriction of someone our age going into full time career missionary work is the fact that you can get a feeling that overseas missions are for someone in theft 20's that there is really no room for anyone different.
But one of the things that is an advantage with Muslim work is the fact that in Eastern countries age is still regarded as an honorable position in life that you are much more likely to be listened to by the people there.And, although you may not have as good health as you did in your 20's, you do have experience and hopefully more wisdom than when you were 20. Judy: There are also big advantages to going into the mission field with children.
There are a good many things that children, even teenagers, can do to be part of such a mission. I mean, when you are talking about family ministry, children are fantastic! MU: Did you have any training before you came to the Center? Vie: I went to Lancaster Bible College for my initial training. Then we spent eight months in our church in a kind of missionary apprenticeship program where I worked with pastors and also worked on my own earning a living.
All the years prior to this mission involvement I did a number of jobs mainly management of various stores and businesses.
The last seven years I was a construction estimator. It's a job in which I only got paid on commission, and it really prepared me in many ways to depend on the Lord because there was no weekly or hourly salary.
It also gave me the opportunity to take a lot of time off. Last year I only worked seven months. I was training the rest of the time.
In any other job either I would have had to quit or been fired.
ME: So what kind of training are you getting here at the Center? Vie: We are attending classes at the Samuel Zwemer Institute. The first two weeks covered the very basics of Want how it all got started.
The second two weeks focused on the Islamic cultures what kind of cultural specialties Islam brings as it moves across the world.
The last two weeks have been focusing on planting churches in Muslim contexts. That's no easy thing to do since you have Islamic countries from Morocco to the Philippines and everywhere in between. each one different from the others.