Gloria Thurman and her husband, Thom, served as missionaries in Bangladesh for 33 years. The WMU Foundation spoke with Gloria as she recalled how God worked in the midst of illness and impossible circumstances to allow them to share Christ’s love.
WMUF: God allowed you to identify with the people of Bangladesh in a lot of ways. Part of your story also involves a bout with leprosy, doesn’t it?
GLORIA: Yes, it does. When David was almost a year old, I noticed a little dime-sized spot on my left leg that looked like ringworm. We thought it might be leprosy, and the doctor confirmed it. But we felt God’s hand on us. It touched the people that I had gotten “their” disease — I was one of them now. With medication, in time it went away.
WMUF: As you look back on what God has done, what would you say to young women who are trying to figure out how God wants them to respond to the Great Commission?
GLORIA: Be willing to take a risk. God doesn’t want us to be foolish, but He has given us the courage and wisdom to be obedient to His will. Seek out God’s heart for where He wants you and give Him all of your life plans. And be willing to take that first step. So often we think we have to know where the road is going or where it will end, but God leads us one step at a time.
WMUF: What is your advice for older women who might feel that they are past their prime as far as ministry goes?
GLORIA: In most areas, age has its positives. In Bangladesh for example, if someone older is willing to come share with the people there, they are quick to think, “Let’s see what they have to offer.” You’re never too old to find your place. There are hospitals, there are boarding schools and there are orphanages full of babies who need someone to rock them. There is a place for every one of us. God is not finished with us yet. As long as we have breath, there’s hope to do more if we’re willing.
The Second Century Fund provides support for women seeking to develop their missions leadership potential. Your gift helps women in the United States and around the world.
A PAGE FROM THE PAST
Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend grew up in the late 1700s on Edisto Island, South Carolina. She heard about Polly Webb’s missionary society in Boston and organized her own group. Hephzibah was creative and bold, starting a baking business to raise money for missions. Though women had few rights or freedoms during this time in history, Hephzibah never let that stop her from using what God had given her to fulfill her role in the Great Commission.
Adapted from We've A Story to Tell: 125 Years of WMU by Rosalie Hunt