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Martha Myers award winner is dental assistant, ‘100% missions’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nancy Fountain Harrell is “100 percent missions,” according to a fellow church member who nominated her for the Dr. Martha Myers GA Alumnae of Distinction Award.

Harrell, the second recipient of the Woman’s Missionary Union honor, “influences the lives of others by working in missions any way that is needed,” fellow church member Linda Kight noted.

“She goes above and beyond the call of duty. Whatever Nancy does, it’s 100 percent missions,” Kight said. “She ministers to anyone in the church or community who has a need.”

Harrell is a Girls in Action leader at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Dublin, Ga., a church she has attended her entire life, where she serves as chairperson for Women on Mission and formerly as WMU director. Harrell and her husband also lead Children in Action, WMU’s coed missions organization for children.

Harrell received the Myers award during WMU’s Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting June 20 in Nashville.

Established in 2003, the Dr. Martha Myers GA Alumnae of Distinction Award is named after the veteran medical doctor in Yemen who was killed with two coworkers at the Baptist hospital in Jibla.

The annual award honors a GA alumna who exhibits a missions lifestyle; has dramatically influenced the lives of others through missions; ministry, and/or civic duty; and is a good role model for girls.

In addition to teaching missions, Harrell is involved in numerous other church ministries. She teaches a Sunday School class for young married couples, sings in the choir, chaperones youth trips, prepares and delivers meals to the elderly and regularly volunteers for Vacation Bible School.

Harrell ministers to her community as well. She volunteers at the Sav-A-Life crisis pregnancy center and helps care for young mothers; plans trips and parties at her community children’s home; and coordinates visits to the Methodist Children’s Home in Macon, Ga.

“She hopes that by showing them the love of God, they will come to know the Lord and start attending church,” Kight said.

Harrell views her career as a dental assistant as a mission, Kight added, noting that she talks to her patients about church, inviting them to attend. She also is a member of Georgia’s Baptist Nursing Fellowship.

Harrell’s love for missions began when she was a child. Her grandparents, F.A. and Mattie Josey, helped her to establish a love for God and missions. Her grandmother was involved in WMU, supported missions offerings and welcomed missionaries into her home. As a child, Harrell was a member of Sunbeams, GAs and Acteens.

While attending Georgia Southwestern State University, she participated in service and missions through the Baptist Student Union.

“It is really moving to watch her in everyday routine duties and how the spirit moves in her life,” Kight said. “You don’t have to be around her a minute before you know she is a Christian. She lets her light shine.”

“Nancy is a beautiful example of how God uses GA to transform lives,” said Mitzi Eaker, children’s ministry consultant for national WMU, said. “She has dedicated her life to investing in the lives of children and living a missions lifestyle.”

Myers and fellow missions workers Bill Koehn and Kathy Gariety were killed by a Muslim militant Dec. 30, 2002, at Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen.

Myers’ missionary career spanned 25 years of tirelessly delivering babies, performing surgeries, visiting the sick and directing the area immunization program.

Her father, Ira Myers, continues to focus more of his attention on her ministry than the loss of her life.

“For those of us who know that things happened according to the plan of God, you grieve but you don’t dwell on it because this is something that you can’t do anything about,” said Myers, former Alabama state public health officer. “I have been pleased that a lot of the things that she was working on in Yemen have come to pass.”

After her death, administration of the Jibla hospital was transferred from Baptist to local leaders, as planned, he said. The hospital continues to offer delivery services to pregnant mothers despite closing the delivery room before Myers’ death.

“Martha was concerned for those who were pregnant [and] were not being cared for at the hospital,” her father said. “She had a great ministry especially among the women because of the great difference in social status.”

She also was very interested in caring for orphans in the area, a ministry that has continued in various ways, Ira Myers said.

“God is still in control,” he said. “The service of the hospital over the years has made a major contribution in that whole area in every aspect of life…. I don’t think we would have a presence there at all if it weren’t for the hospital.”

Having already discussed potential funeral arrangements with Myers, the family knew that she wanted to be buried in Yemen.

“Bringing her back to the U.S. would be nothing more than a grave,” Myers said. “Over there, it would be a testimony and that is exactly what it is. Her grave has a big sign on it that says that she loved God. Many of the local people there who knew her have continued to mourn her.”

He added, “I’m grateful for the fact that she did what she could as long as she lived and if she had lived longer she would have no doubt still been there. She considered Yemen her home. Those were her people and she loved the Yemeni people.”

Realizing the great need still in Yemen, Myers said he prays every day for the missionaries still working in the Middle East country.

“The healing ministry in that area has continued,” he said. “They are still trying to render care and we hope that people will look at them and it will have an influence on their lives.”

Myers said he also hopes his daughter’s life can be an encouragement to others interested in missions work or fulltime Christian service.

“All of these things are about God, it’s not about us,” he said. “We are obligated to be obedient to God for His plan for us individually. She would not want any credit nor do we. Give God the credit. We just happen to have been privileged to be her parents.”
For more information regarding Girls in Action or the Dr. Martha Myers GA Alumnae of Distinction Award, visit www.gafanclub.com, a website for adult GA Friends and Alumnae InterNational. Nomination forms for the 2006 GA alumnae award also are available at the site. For more information on WMU, visit www.wmu.com, or call (205) 991-8100. Myers is one of several missionary martyrs featured in a new book, “Lives Given, Not Taken: 21st Century Southern Baptist Martyrs” by International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin and IMB senior writer Erich Bridges.

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