Gloria Thurman knew how to kill a chicken before she and her husband, Thom, ever got to Bangladesh in 1965. Their rural upbringing — her in Alabama, him in Mississippi — “prepared us to be equipped to do what God called us to do,” she said. In their 33 years in the South Asian country, they saw God do a work bigger than anything they could have ever imagined. Recently, she shared her story with WMU.
When did you feel the call to missions?
As a sophomore in high school, I knew the Lord wanted me to do something special in His service. Then while I was at Troy State College (now Troy University), I worked in the dining hall alongside five men from Muslim countries. I shared with them and tried to help them understand English. As I listened to them talk about their family members back home, God placed a burden on my heart for the Muslim world. When I was a junior, I surrendered to go wherever God led me.
What led you to Bangladesh?
Soon after I committed to missions, I met my husband, Thom. He was committed to missions too, but he felt God was calling him to India. So we decided to see if God led in that direction. We told the Foreign Mission Board that we wanted to go to India, but they didn’t have any work in that country at that time. They asked if we would consider East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, and we said yes.
When we got there, we saw immediately that God had prepared us for it. It was a very poor, rural country, and both Thom and I had grown up in rural areas. My grandmother had taught me how to can and preserve foods and also kill a chicken. We found that a lot of times in Bangladesh we had to carry water from wells, and most of the people around us grew the food that they ate. We understood that kind of life. They took us in and made us part of their family.
Next month, Gloria shares how God used leprosy to open the hearts of the people they served, and she shares her advice for women of all ages responding to God’s call.
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A Page from the Past
Born in 1779, Polly Webb had a passion for women helping share the gospel with those who had never heard. She gathered her friends in her home to sew, and they used their handcrafted goods to raise money for missions. The Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes was the first woman’s missionary society, and they raised funds to support missionaries in India. Polly Webb, confined to a wheelchair since age 5, not only organized this first group, but she also wrote thousands of letters urging others to help. God placed a passion for the Great Commission in Polly Webb’s heart, and He equipped her in a special way to fulfill His call. Polly not only organized her own group, she also prompted 20 more groups to organize during the early 1800s.
Adapted from We’ve a Story to Tell: 125 Years of WMU by Rosalie Hunt.