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New children’s book tells the story of missionary Rebekah Naylor

NASHVILLE (BP) – A new children’s book telling the story of missionary and surgeon Rebekah Naylor released on Dec. 2. Intentionally released during December, all of the proceeds from the book go to support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which supports missionaries around the world.

The book, written by Ann Lovell at the International Mission Board, is titled “Rebekah: An American Surgeon in India,” and is already listed as the No. 1 new release in Amazon’s children’s religious biographies category. Naylor said she hopes the book will help kids develop a passion for missions.

“I’m just grateful that the story of what God has done can be shared with all ages because that’s the whole point, it’s not what I did but what God did by using me, and I was just privileged to be used in the way that I was,” Naylor said.

“Children need to know about missions, and I hope they can get a real picture of what it means to follow Jesus, to be his child and to have their own faith story.”

Lovell serves as director of internal communications for the IMB and said the book is based on Naylor’s biography titled “Rebekah Ann Naylor, M.D.: Missionary Surgeon in Changing Times,” written by Camille Lee Hornbeck.

Lovell spent more than 15 years on the international mission field with her husband and said reading missionary biographies as a young person heavily influenced her eventual calling.

A few years ago, Lovell wrote a biography for children about missionary Bill Wallace. She said the lessons from Naylor’s story made it an easy choice for her next book project.

“The lesson I think for kids and for all of us really from the book is when God calls you to a path and makes it clear, He also makes the way forward for you to fulfill it in spite of obstacles,” Lovell said.

“Sometimes things are not going to go as we expect or plan, but they are still part of God’s will and He still is at work, we just have to trust Him. If you commit your life to Him, He will finish what He started.”

Naylor is known for her work as a surgeon in Bangalore, India, during a time when women doctors were uncommon.

She began as a medical school student at Vanderbilt University during the late 1960s, and a summer mission trip to Bangkla, Thailand, after her third year cemented her desire to become a surgeon.

During the trip, the surgeon she worked with let her help in the operating room, which was against the cultural norms of the time.

This experience helped develop Naylor’s love for surgery, and eventually culminated in her work at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital in India. She served as a surgeon and eventually chief of staff for the hospital and continued to do medical work in India until the early 2000s.

Naylor now works for the IMB, helping lead its Global Help Strategies network. She also is a distinguished professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Lovell said Naylor’s continuing legacy of obedience to God despite challenges is something all people can learn from, but is particularly inspiring to young women.

“She is a model for how women are crucial to the work of missions and to getting the Gospel to the nations,” Lovell said. “She shows young women that there is a path for them to serve, and I think that’s incredibly important. She’s now training and enlisting the next generation of medical professionals to also use their skills to reach the nations, and that is a lasting impact that we can never fully measure.”

Naylor said keeping her mind on eternal things is what inspired her to keep going when ministry got difficult. She hopes her story can illustrate that God can do incredible things through ordinary people.

“When God called me into missions, I thought I was too small and insignificant, but God takes us who are very ordinary people and he can do great things through us and use us,” Naylor said.

“I’m passionate about missions. I’m passionate about reaching people who do not know Christ. I’m passionate about healthcare, so putting all that together is something that I want to continue to communicate as long as I can.

“I want to keep telling the coming generations what amazing and wonderful things God has done in my life and in the lives of those whom I’ve met along the way.”