“That’s me,” says Molly with a shy smile, pointing to a black- and-white photograph in the display area of the Office of Adventist Mission. “What do you mean?” we ask, looking closely at the picture of a young nurse and child. “I’m the nurse in the picture,” Molly says quietly. And with that, she returns to the office where she and her husband, Elmer, have been doing volunteer work. She wants to finish the project before she leaves at the end of the day.
Looking at each other in surprise, several of us follow Molly. We know a good story is about to unfold and we want to hear it.
Molly was born and raised in Burma, also known as Myanmar. When she was a teenager, her uncle met a Seventh-day Adventist who knew Pastor M. O. Manley, a Seventh-day Adventist missionary who had just arrived from America. The Manleys needed a housekeeper and Molly got the job. While working for the Manleys, Molly took Bible studies, accepted Jesus as her Savior, and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
When the Manleys returned to the States, Molly worked as a housekeeper for Dr. G. Richardson, an Adventist missionary. Dr. Richardson wanted Molly to have an Adventist education, and he kindly paid her tuition.
In 1959, Molly earned her nursing degree at the Seventh-day Adventist Missionary Hospital in Rangoon, where she later worked in the pediatric ward. Her church pastor, E. C. Beck, often visited the patients at the hospital. One day he took a photograph of Molly interacting with a young girl.
Molly remembers teasing Pastor Beck, “Someday you will take that photo back to America with you. My body will be here in Burma, but my photo will be in America!” Never did Molly imagine that she would someday come to America herself, never mind see her photo there!
When Pastor Beck returned to the United States, Molly’s photograph somehow found its way to the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters. While creating posters to display at a convention, our staff searched for old photographs that captured the missionary spirit. When we saw the photograph of Molly, we had no idea who the young nurse was, but we were moved by the compassion expressed in her face.
Molly and Elmer worked together at the Adventist Missionary Hospital, where he was an assistant manager, until the hospital was nationalized in 1965. Elmer would not do office work on the Sabbath, so he left the hospital to start his own business. Molly held her nursing position until she and her family emigrated to the United States in 1975.
“I was so happy being a nurse and helping people,” says Molly. “It was because of missionaries that people in our country were able to learn about Jesus. I am thankful they came, and I want to do everything I can to share the light of His example with others.”
Molly and Elmer were open to serving the Lord anywhere, but they felt God was leading their family to America. They were sponsored by Dr. L. W. Malin, one of the founders of the Leland Memorial Hospital in Maryland. Molly worked as a patient care technician there and at Washington Adventist Hospital until she retired in 2003. In 2004, she was involved in a car accident. For two months, this woman, who had spent her career helping patients, would fight for her own life in a hospital bed.
How did Molly feel when she saw the poster? “I was so surprised!” she says. “I feel that I am nothing—that I have done nothing special. But when I saw my picture, I felt valued. I thought that maybe it was God’s will that it was at the General Conference and that maybe He could use it to inspire someone.”
Molly’s picture is inspiring. It’s a constant reminder that behind every picture of a missionary is a real person who chooses again and again to share Jesus’ love, without glory or notice, to one person at a time.
As I listen to Molly working in the office next door, I can’t help but notice that she works much like she did as a young nurse: quietly, humbly, unassumingly shining for Jesus.
To view more pictures for this article and to read more articles visit http://www.adventistmission.org/mission360mag
Her short skirt and tight-fitting top, accented by her flashy red lipstick and darkly lined eyes, made her stand out from the rest of the modestly dressed women in church.
Centers of influence are currently being established in cities around the world.