Mollie Mostert is a widow who will turn 80 this year, in 2020. As the COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place orders were settling over most of the USA, on Wednesday, March 18, where was Mollie?Stuck in a Paris airport. What was she doing in Paris? Sightseeing? The Louvre?
Not Mollie! Having just spent nearly two months encouraging disciples in African churches, she was on her way home to the States to raise money for another missionary journey to Pakistan in April.
As lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic were beginning in various places, Mollie waited long hours for her flight home. She and I texted back and forth a bit during this time, and I asked her to tell me the story of how and why she began to visit churches on the mission field as a mature single woman.
After my husband died 7 years ago, I was wondering what I could do to help my younger sisters (Titus 2:3-5). Age is highly respected in many countries, more so than in mine, so I decided to go to India. I had been there several years prior, on a H.O.P.E. worldwide trip. Douglas Jacoby encouraged me to go to Bangladesh, too. So I spent five weeks in India, primarily in Bangalore, then three weeks in Bangladesh. This went well, so I decided to go again the next year, visiting several cities, including the H.O.P.E. orphanages there. These children captured my heart, especially the girls who have AIDS.
When I attended Abilene Christian University, I had taken Mission Principles, taught by Dr. George Gurganus. This was very helpful with adapting to other cultures. My three sons and I lived in Zimbabwe for almost three years during the mid-seventies. I taught bible classes at a mission school in the bush and taught the ladies in area villages on weekends. This was a very happy time in my life.
In 2017, I spent eight weeks in Nigeria. I was sponsoring a girl in Lagos on Chance for Africa and had met one of the Lagos church’s elders, Isreal Ereola, and the evangelist, Chris Ogbannayo. They had invited me to visit the church and I spent eight weeks there. I also made my first trip to a Muslim nation, which I will not name for security reasons, for two weeks that year.
By this time, I believe I'm really making a difference in some of my younger sisters' lives. I'm loving it! In 2018, I went to Joburg and Harare for seven weeks. I didn't do much teaching, because I was sick. I failed to get up and move around on the two flights to Joburg, the result of which was difficulty in breathing because I had blood clots in both lungs. I was in hospital about 8-9 days, so not a lot of teaching was done on that trip. Last year, I went back to India for seven weeks and spent two more in another Muslim nation. This year, eight weeks in Kenya and Uganda.
Last year in India, I learned the importance of visiting the small churches as well as larger ones. The staff in these smaller churches were sooooo thankful that I took time to visit them. Usually, visiting teachers only go to the big cities. I always stay with disciples. I have so many precious, forever relationships with these families I stay with. This happens because of the unique, incredible relationships we have in our fellowship. No other group of people has anything remotely like this. I go into homes of people I've never met, and after an hour together, we are sharing our hearts.
Several staff members, on this last trip especially, as well as others, have commented very favorably on the fact that I stay with disciples and not in hotels. I love staying with disciples and treasure the many precious relationships resulting from this. I receive much gratitude because I'm here for the sisters, who may often get overlooked.
In the large cities, I move from one region to another, so it's easy for sisters to have personal appointments when I'm not teaching classes. I usually start my days during these teaching trips at about 9am and keep going until about 10pm. My energy level at home is relatively good for my age. On a trip, it soars daily, so I can have these full days and nights. Then I go home and it's back to normal. This is very consistent with each trip.
This year, I arrived in Nairobi on January 25, 2020 and left on March 17. I've been to Mombassa, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kampala. I had another trip planned for April to visit four churches, but regrettably I have had to cancel that one due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Mollie was just about to do a fundraiser to be able to make that trip – she needed about $750. – ed.
My church has given me a small travel allowance — $3000 per year — for the last three years, and I also get donations from individuals. That covers the bulk of my expenses. I would travel more if I had the money. The only income I have is social security. I will be 80 on July 13th, 2020, and I don’t mind anyone asking how old I am.The travel itself is hard, but nothing compared to the great joy of making a difference in the lives of so many.
Acts 20:35 is so true: it is more blessed to give than receive. I have no adequate words to say how much joy I receive from my travels. I have very serious spine issues and my mobility is rapidly declining. I pray for God to keep me mobile, so I can continue to travel.
I'm praying about the destination for my eight-week trip next year.
I've been thinking a lot recently about how amazing it is that GOD ALMIGHTY is using me, a nobody in the world, to share his message.
So what’s the word on the street about Mollie’s impact?
From Rolayo Ogbonnaya, Lagos, Nigeria,women’s ministry leader and regional family chair for the women of English Speaking West Africa, March 2020:
“Ms. Mollie is in every sense a tireless giver. She literally thrives on giving and is constantly in the process of finding ways to give more. Her travel to Nigeria was entirely at her own expense and initiative.
She arrived bearing so many gifts. Dolls for little girls in addition to sundry household items and knick knacks for women in general.
She has been silently and singlehandedly responsible for paying the school fees of one of our kingdom kids since the girl was in elementary school. Today, Favour Adesubokan is in university because of Ms. Mollie's commitment to see her through school.
Ms. Mollie wanted to meet up with everybody while she was here. She met with the widows, the single moms, the single sisters — and left them all very inspired.
So many disciples here have at least a book or two on their shelves that were given to them by Ms. Mollie.
She never wanted to take a break. She just kept going and going. I think it's not an exaggeration to say that Ms. Mollie indeed has a heart of gold.”
From the leader of our churches in Pakistan, March 2020:
“Mollie is a great inspiration to all women: a 78 year old woman with all kinds of health issues, degenerative spine issues, willing to take her walker, her pain meds, and keep giving to everyone, a beautiful heart to serve until she sees Jesus in heaven. She wants to serve God’s people for all the 50 years she lost when she was not a disciple. She is an amazing woman willing to help anyone in need, and support even for the Swamp camps to raise funds for the youth — especially for HOPE kids in India.
She has a fearless heart for God to go places where many would have second thoughts to go — places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many parts of India. She spent time with all the women who are in need, where many can't go, to encourage, inspire, and challenge them to grow closer to God.For many disciples, she has gone the extra mile to strengthen them through teaching, collecting books from disciples from the US to give to all of us, buying discounted books for the School of Missions, making gifts — dolls for poor children, and giving jewelry for the less fortunate.
She has an amazing heart that is soft and gentle, but with firm convictions to call people to God's standard. An amazing older woman of compassion, crossing all boundaries to meet needs. Mollie has a special place in my heart because I have served in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and I'm grateful for all the help she continues to give to them.”
From the Dhaka International Church of Christ in Bangladesh:
Joanna, one of the teens, shared how “Aunty Mollie” will remain an inspiration in her life forever. She remembers her as "an amazing human being, [one of] the kindest and [most] gentle-hearted persons" she has ever met.
Joanna's mother, Sukla Gomes, who works with an American non-profit organization, salutes Ms. Mollie's abundant love for God and his people that made her travel so far to inspire the church in Dhaka. Many fondly remember the times Ms. Mollie had meals at different disciples’ homes and heard out their stories and encouraged them.
Martha Mazumdar recalls how Ms. Mollie's encouragement through scriptures was a great blessing at a very difficult moment in her life when her marriage was falling apart and she was quite discouraged. Things have changed a lot in the household of the Mazumdars and they have hung in together in difficult times.
Ms. Mollie spent her time teaching the young and old, married and single women alike and many felt called higher as she helped them memorize scriptures. She shared the difficult times of her own personal life and the times she prayed in her toilet on her knees, begging God to change situations in her life.
Her testimony has had a great impact on the lives of these women who themselves go through challenging times every day.
Poppy Nokrek met Ms. Mollie in Bangalore, India when she was getting trained in the School of Missions. Today Poppy is serving the Dhaka women along with her husband Sumitro Nokrek, who leads the church. Mollie donated so many bibles and bible commentaries for the trainees on the School of Missionsprogram. This is what Poppy has to say about Ms. Mollie: "You are very optimistic even in a difficult moment. It's great to see your enthusiasm in God's kingdom.”
Pappia and Martin, who work with HOPE Dhaka, are eternally grateful for the boxes of gifts of chocolates and toys she gave away to the kids at the HOPE school and to the families of the staff there.
Shikha Theophilus has this to say about Mollie: "I remember her walking into my house, tired after a whole day, yet so zealous, so bright!She came over to see me, to pray for a little time with me as she got to know the challenges I was going through.I remember her comforting me, sharing her life, relating to my hard times and pulling me up with encouragement! I needed that so much — a hug and prayers of faith, hope, and trust!”
It was really encouraging for Anjali to know how Ms. Mollie had created a group through which she taught people how to bake a cake and used the opportunity to share the gospel.
Mollie's love and dream for all the mothers of the disciples here in Dhaka was so amazing that she kept on following up on Aunty Alma, mother of one of the brothers, called James. Today Aunty Alma is our sister in Christ.
Ruth Dhali and her mom were always inspired by her testimony.
The older women remember her teaching them that, "the battle is against Satan, not against any person.”
Her selfless service always encouraged all the sisters of Dhaka.
Ms. Mollie travelled to Chittagong by bus and train, along with some sisters for about 16 hours to comfort the Dey family who were grieving the loss of their mother.
Singles and marrieds, men and women alike enjoyed the insights shared by Ms. Mollie. In this part of the world, the elderly, specifically women, are respected and treated well. So it looked like brothers too benefitted from her visit as she listened to their woes and challenges like a mother would. Ms. Mollie is definitely one of her kind.
FromCaroline George, women’s ministry leader and Regional Family Chair for India, March 2020:
We love Mollie. She's one focused woman of God, who doesn’t want to waste whatever years of her life are left. She wants to give it all to serving God and his people. She’s living her dream.