New Children’s Book Celebrates Missionary Testimony

Rebekah Naylor greets church members in Bangalore, India in 2004. Source: Baptist Standard

A new children’s book by International Mission Board Director of Internal Communications, Ann Lovell tells the story of missionary surgeon Rebekah Naylor, a surgeon in Bangalore, India, during a time when women doctors were uncommon. Lovell said her book is based on Naylor’s biography, Rebekah Ann Naylor, M.D.: Missionary Surgeon in Changing Times.

As a child, she recalled how reading the biography of missionaries would inspire her and sparked a desire to become more engaged in missions.

“Children need to know about missions, and I hope they can get a real picture of what it means to follow Jesus, to be his child and to have their own faith story,” she said.

Upon the book’s release, Naylor said, “I’m just grateful that the story of what God has done can be shared with all ages, because that’s the whole point. It’s not what I did, but what God did by using me, and I was just privileged to be used in the way that I was,” Naylor said.

Lovell, who spent more than 15 years on the international mission field, said reading missionary biographies as a young person heavily influenced her eventual calling.

“The lesson I think for kids and for all of us really from the book is when God calls you to a path and makes it clear, he also makes the way forward for you to fulfill it in spite of obstacles,” Lovell said.

“Sometimes, things are not going to go as we expect or plan. But they are still part of God’s will, and he still is at work. We just have to trust him. If you commit your life to him, he will finish what he started.”

Naylor attended Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the 1960s. After a summer mission trip to Bangkla, Thailand, she felt called to specialize in surgery, launching a more than 20 year career in missions medicine.

Naylor now works for the IMB, helping lead its Global Help Strategies network. She also is a distinguished professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Lovell said Naylor’s continuing legacy of obedience to God despite challenges is something all people can learn from, but is particularly inspiring to young women.

“She is a model for how women are crucial to the work of missions and to getting the gospel to the nations,” Lovell said. “She shows young women that there is a path for them to serve, and I think that’s incredibly important. She’s now training and enlisting the next generation of medical professionals to also use their skills to reach the nations, and that is a lasting impact that we can never fully measure.”

Naylor said keeping her mind on eternal things is what inspired her to keep going when ministry got difficult. She hopes her story can illustrate that God can do incredible things through ordinary people.

“When God called me into missions, I thought I was too small and insignificant. But God takes us who are very ordinary people, and he can do great things through us and use us,” Naylor said. “I’m passionate about missions. I’m passionate about reaching people who do not know Christ. I’m passionate about health care, so putting all that together is something that I want to continue to communicate as long as I can.

“I want to keep telling the coming generations what amazing and wonderful things God has done in my life and in the lives of those whom I’ve met along the way.”

Source: Baptist Standard