Sylvia DeLoach didn’t know what she was going to say when she walked down front; but knew she felt an irresistible pull to go.
“It was the very last day of GA (Girls in Action) camp, and an international missionary had spoken. I went forward,” DeLoach said. “When they asked me why I was there, I blurted out, ‘I want to do something special for God with my life.’”
Those words stuck with her for the next six decades.
“That statement propelled me to the things I’ve done in life since,” she said.
DeLoach had first been hooked on missions in a Sunbeams class where she heard her first “real live missionary.”
“He taught us a song in the language of the people he served, and even though I know I got it wrong, my parents said I walked around singing it for days,” DeLoach said.
“Later, I had a missions leader in YWA (Young Women’s Auxiliary), Margaret Fitzgerald, and out of all the people in my life, she probably influenced me more than anyone,” DeLoach said. “She invested a lot of time in me and the other girls.”
DeLoach saw Fitzgerald recently in her east Texas nursing home. She’s in her 90s and “clear as a bell.”
“It was because of her that I really began to listen to God’s call and considered what to do to make my life special,” she continued. “And she’s the one I would still go back to today to talk about living for Christ.”
But DeLoach—who served in various ministry capacities including GA consultant and missions innovator for national Woman’s Missionary Union—isn’t just soaking wisdom up. She’s passing it on.
DeLoach, retired and a member of FBC of Richardson, Texas, has mentored a number of people—from a young woman in her church to neighbors who don’t know Christ but are willing to come to her house regularly for coffee and listen.
“As I grow old, I want my home to be somewhere people can gather,” she said. “I hope I can do that to the very end and in various ways. I feel like that’s what God wants of me.”
“The thing that thrills me is that as a GA, God touched me to be able to say those words even though I didn’t know what it meant,” DeLoach said. “Because of the vision He planted and the things I learned through WMU, I’m still doing what I learned to do; and I credit it all to the seeds that started as a Sunbeam, a GA, a YWA, and the many opportunities I had to act on the lessons I learned.”
This article first appeared in the August 2017 issue of Missions Mosaic.