This week, with the passing of Barbara (Henry) Proctor, I've been thinking about all the influential women in my life. Since becoming a Christian, many women have impacted my life, but Barbara certainly influenced me the most. She was one of my very first friends when I moved to Seattle to attend Green Lake Pres. back in 2003. Our relationship surprised me for two reasons-she was 40 years older than me and way too mature to be hanging out with a silly young girl such as myself. After getting to know each other a bit, Barbara invited me to be part of a small Bible study group. She was a writer working on a new book at the time and needed a group to be her guinea pig. Eager to spend more time with her as well as grow in my new faith, I joined the group. Little did I know I would grow so much. Over the next year, I worked through a lot of my fears, doubts and problems of my past while Barbara shared her wisdom and covered me with prayer. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity not only to know Barbara, but to walk so closely with her for that time.
When Dan and I moved to Malawi in 2007, Barbara kept in touch through email. I actually did one of her studies with a group of fellow teachers on campus. In September of 2008, she visited us in Malawi with a team from Green Lake. It was really great to have her there. She was a huge source of encouragement to me during that time as I was a brand new mother far away from home.
David Morton, Barbara's brother in law spoke at the memorial service last week in Seattle. Below are his closing remarks which definitely shed some light on the incredible influence Barbara has had on individuals all over the world.
"Tuesday this week I left Nkhoma to spend the night with a friend in Lilongwe before flying out Wednesday morning. I arranged for one of the volunteer American teachers to stay in our home during our absence there. There is a women’s Bible study group that meets at Nkhoma on Tuesday evenings which Rebecca has been part of. The group decided to meet that night in our home. They are studying the African version of Barbara’s first Bible Study Book, Woman to Woman, based on Titus 2. What a testimony to the legacy of Barbara’s life, a group of women from Malawi, South Africa, Netherlands, Korea, and North America, all being discipled through Barbara. While Barbara is now among that great multitude of witnesses from among every nation and tribe and people standing before the Lamb, here in a humbler but no less significant way, is a similar group doing the same. Barbara, through the love of the Lord and the power of His Spirit your labor has not been in vain, and we will continue to remember you, be encouraged and empowered by your life, until the day when we can see it brought forward into the new creation promised by our God. I pray that the same can be said for each of us when our own time comes. Thank you Jesus for the life of my sister."
Rebecca and David have been in Malawi, serving at Nkhoma Hospital about an hour outside of Lilongwe. Pray for them as they seek to serve there while also grieving the loss of their dear sister.
I personally know other African women doing this same Bible study in their communities and in prisons of Malawi. What an amazing testament to Barbara's love for Christ. She really did care more about the expansion of God's kingdom than anything else. Barbara will be missed by so many. Still, I am glad for her and even a little bit jealous that she is in the presence of our Lord and savior right now. I look forward to seeing her again soon.