Reading the story of Emma Lou Maxey; is like listening to a moonlight tale. Some of her ilk back in the US will find it difficult to comprehend the kind of life she chose for herself.
Right from when she was a young girl, she had desired to be a missionary. The Lord Himself planted that desire in her. Her parents had equally prayed and petitioned God to make their children serve God as missionaries. That prayer was speedily answered, as six out of their nine children including Emma Lou turned out to be missionaries.
But that is not the story. The story is that Emma Lou braced all odds and submitted to God’s will to come to Africa. She and her husband had earlier served in Mexico planting churches and doing evangelical work. But the Lord soon spoke to Emma Lou that they were going to Africa. Her husband was to later confirm that. Both of them agreed and they set for Africa.
For 35 year now, she and her husband, Gary Maxey have been on the soil of Nigeria in Africa doing mission work and impacting lives. They both founded the well-known West Africa Theological seminary and Calvary Bible College.
Their first place of call in Nigeria was Portharcourt. With four children the oldest being 13, Emma Lou was set on a path of no return. For her, it was bye to the glory and glamour in the US for the more condescending life of sacrifice and pain in Nigeria.
Born on February 10, 1947; Emma Lou who took time to celebrate her 70th birthday; at the premises of WATS at Ipaja, Lagos; is no doubt a study in humility and sacrifice. She did not mind the humble start in Nigeria and the rigours and pain she and her husband have had to go through. For her, the joy of knowing the Lord is enough. Every other thing is secondary.
Her godly heritage seems to have perfectly robbed off on her children and grandchildren who apparently are taking after her. She said in an interview: “My four children and their families are running after Jesus. This is worth more than the world to me. My children have shown in many ways their love for God and others around them. They reach into their communities to make a difference for others including people outside their churches”
She recalled in the interview that she had always known the Lord right from her younger days back in the US, “I cannot remember a day while growing up that we did not have family prayers together. My mother and father did everything together…through all they did a scarlet cord of love was woven together-for each other, for others and for the God they served.”
That childhood experience of a father and mother with so much affection for one another is being replicated in Emma Lou’s life. She and her husband have been in the trough together doing God’s will.
She is not the type that would complain about the struggles and pain in Nigeria. In response to a question on how she copes with the problems and challenges in Nigeria, she offers, “My father used to say, “There is no promotion away from the centre of God’s will”. I know it is God’s will for me to live and minister in Africa all the days of my life. It is the fulfillment of my prayers as a teen and God’s call to me as a wife and mother. It is the best retirement policy I know. I do not focus on the wahala it’s just part of what Nigeria is about.”
She however noted that the most difficult part of her stay in Nigeria was to be “far away from my family, my parents when they were still with us and now my children and grandchildren.”
But that seems to have been sorted out as her children are coming back to support her in the mission work. “Rachael came back to WATS after high school and not only took classes here, but married here and had her first child here. Ingam came last year to enroll at WATS as a teenager. And now there are plans for other grandchildren to come”
On her expectations, she says, “I am asking God for 20 more years of life and health in Nigeria. I will continue my ministry of encouragement and compassion. I will continue ministry as mentor and discipler. I hope to serve as teacher of the scriptures. I desire to be a prayer warrior bringing revival and the presence of God through humility obedience and love for the king the universe.”
Indeed, for a long time, the story of Emma Lou will be told again and again to rekindle faith in many and set a path worth emulating for those who desire to serve God in difficult terrain.
copyright: Church Times Nigeria