Her name was Norma. Norma Stoffel. You won't find her name in any book of people with great faith. Nor will you find her name in a book about great missionaries or extraordinary minds. You will find her name written in the Book of Life which Jesus will read during the end of days.
Norma was already 75 years old when I met her back in 1982. A retired missionary from Honduras and Guatemala, she had spent the last 35 years there. She was teaching a class in the Psalms at my home church in Ironwood, MI.. She loved the Psalms...she stated once that one of her favorite Psalms was Psalm 22.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel. [a]
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed....
She told me that this was her favorite Psalm. "Why?", I asked. "Because this Psalm reminds me that I need to stay near the cross.", She told me. I thought...wow! if this lady of the faith must stay near the cross, how much more do I?
Norma eventually left the church where I attended. She went back to Guatemala. She said she felt more at home there and she missed the friends, who were more like family to her. She also felt God had called her there. The only reason she came home was because the Mission decided it was her time to retire. It was not God's timing however, and Norma could not refuse her Lord when He called.
I am sure that Norma is with the LORD now. Happy, secure, blessed. I think of her often. She was one of the FaithWalkers I will be talking about in this series of posts. She had a profound influence on my life as a Christian. She showed me what it really means to be a fully devoted and developed follower of Christ. She did not say it in so many words...she showed it in so many actions. She modeled Jesus for me and as a young Christian at the time, that meant more to me than knowing the theological implications of Jesus' return and the eschatology of Revelations. A whole lot more.
So remember as you go through this life...it's not so much what you say that counts, it's what you do and what you do it for. Norma Stoffel. Not a name written in a book about people with great faith, or great missionaries or great minds. This is a name that is written on my heart because she showed Jesus to me in a way that no one else could at the time. I pray that I can be exactly like her with someone in my life. I will never know. Norma knows now.