More than thirty years ago, the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board sent Jessie Green from Caulhon, Ga., as missionary to Malaysia, and I am glad they did.
With the help of local Christians, Jessie Green helped start a church. The small church was named Emmanuel Baptist Church and was built close to where I lived as a child in the small township of Petaling Jaya.
The church was very small by U.S. standards, but it was all Miss Green needed. She knew how to attract children, and every Sunday she filled the church with them.
Miss Green had a very big and loving heart indeed. She spent many years doing missionary work first in China, and then in Malaysia. The land was so far away and so different from her American home. Back then, Malaysia was not a nice place for a foreign missionary. Because Malaysia was a young developing Muslim country, Christian missionaries were not particularly welcomed. Western culture and morals were seen as corrupt, and people viewed Christianity as a Western religion, so missionaries were generally not received well. Also, Jessie Green had to learn to speak the local language, deal with the hot and humid weather all year round, and adjust to a different food and lifestyle. It was very different from the culture and life she had known. But all these were minor to her and did not keep her from wanting to stay there. She had Jesus Christ in her, and she was determined to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people there.
I was about nine years old when I first heard the name of Jesus Christ through Miss Green. I did not really understand much about Christianity as a young child, but I was attracted to the church anyway. Together with other children, we attended church every Sunday and learned many of the Christian hymns. I enjoyed the Bible stories and the church programs, like Royal Ambassadors, Training Union, and the Sunbeam class. But most important was the joy and love Miss Green brought to us.
An example of the love and concern she had for children was when my childhood friend Hong burned his leg badly on a motorcycle exhaust pipe. His parents did not understand the seriousness of his burn and treated the wound lightly. A few days later, Hong had a high fever and his leg was badly infected. Miss Green spent a lot time with Hong when he was in great pain and finally convinced Hong's father to let her take him to the hospital. She saved his leg from possible amputation, and through this incident Miss Green brought Hong, and later his father, to Christ.
I was thirteen years old when Jesus Christ came into my heart. I realized that I was a sinner and I needed Jesus. I received Him as my personal Savior, and since Jesus Christ has become very important in every aspect of my life.
In 1981, God opened the door and allowed me to come to America to attend Auburn University in Alabama. At that time Miss Green had already returned to America and lived in her hometown of Calhoun, Ga. I had not seen her for many years, so I traveled to Calhoun to see her. She was very ill when I saw her in a nursing home. But to my surprise, she called me by my Chinese name. I was very shocked and touched that she could remember me so well. Like most Chinese names, my Chinese name is somewhat complicated to most Americans. Later I found out from the nurse that she could remember many of us in Malaysia, because she prayed for the churches there regularly. She mentioned the names of the children she had brought to the Lord in her daily prayers. She actually told the nurse that she had a family in Malaysia, that she considered us as her own children. Miss Green never married and did not have any children of her own. I was very touched. How could anyone have so much love? Through her, I saw Jesus Christ, and when I think of Miss Green, I simply want to be a better Christian.
Perhaps it is too easy for us who live in a comfortable environment to not feel a burden for mission work. It's like the old saying: "Out of sight and out of mind." Some might even wonder if mission work has any real value. Well, I can tell you that it does. I am one of the many thousands who came to know Christ because of mission work. For that I am very thankful to the Lord, and to the people who responded to God's calling some thirty years ago.
I am also thankful for this opportunity to share my little story with you. But really, this story is not about me, it is about Miss Green and the group of committed Christians who responded to God's call and sent her to Malaysia many years ago. Perhaps the real impact of what the Lord has done in me and my family is more than Miss Green and that group of Christians could realize. Today, not only have I accepted Christ, my brothers, my sisters, and even our parents are Christians, too. Salvation has truly come to my family and I consider this the greatest gift anyone can receive!
Today the world is very different from what it was thirty years ago. Missionary strategy is different. But one thing has remained unchanged: people still need the Lord. We as Christians need to support mission work and pray for all the missionaries in the fields. I believe together, we can continue to change lives in every part of the world.