My Spiritual Mother

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  • Katherine Morgan has been a missionary in Pasto, Colombia, for fifty years. She has been a friend of mine for thirty-four of those years and has done for me what Paul said Onesiphorus did for him: refreshed me often. Katherine’s husband died when they had been married only six years, but she carried on their missionary work and reared their four little girls. To Katherine I owe more than I can ever tell. She more or less booted me to Ecuador. I was a missionary candidate without a field, didn’t know quite how to find one, talked to her, and within months found myself in Quito. She had me in her home many weekends, giving me previews of coming attractions–what not to expect from “supporters,” what to expect from them, what to expect from Ecuadorians and from jungle Indians, what to take (a sense of humor, for one thing), what not to take (a sense of smell, a trunkful of inhibitions and Plymouth Brethren prejudices, an inflated idea of my own importance, and the notion that people are longing to hear the gospel). At times all of us–her daughters were in junior high and high school then–would be nearly rolling on the floor with laughter. One evening we had a hat show. Katherine had come home from a missionary meeting with a shopping bag full of hats that a lady told her the Lord had “laid on my heart to give to the missionaries.” 

    She called me this morning from Pennsylvania where she is visiting a daughter. She just wanted to chat while it’s still easy to chat, since she’ll be going back to Colombia in a few weeks. Asking about a mutual friend who has been in the hospital, she told me to tell her to jump up and praise the Lord. She mentioned a gift sent to her which had been designated for a retired missionary. “Me-retired? I haven’t even thought of retiring.” She sent it back. We talked about “travailing” for people who have fallen away from the Lord. I reminded her of 2 Corinthians 4, the passage about bearing “death in our bodies” in order that life may work in others. Yes, she agreed, that’s in the Bible, all right, but she couldn’t think of herself in that way–”I’m too cheerful”–even though I happen to know she has suffered many kinds of death for the sake of other people (and has had her own life threatened a number of times, including being stoned and doused with gasoline more than once). 

    Dear Katherine! “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Hers has been an elixir for me. She’s one of those who bring forth fruit in old age–though she’d hit me for suggesting she’s anywhere near that category. May God make me like her.

    *As we draw near to Mother’s Day, we at the Foundation thought that you would be encouraged by this “Spiritual Mother” in Elisabeth’s life. This excerpt was originally published in the May/June 1985 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.