On Friday, January 1, 2009 I received word that my mother had been taken to the hospital after a severe stroke and was not expected to live. Receiving this kind of news is never easy, but when you are sitting in a remote African village with a limited number of flights available every week, it's devastating. After calling the family, we decided that I would try to get a seat on the next flight out which would leave on Sunday and arrive on Monday evening. The Lord intervened and helped me get the last seat available on both my flights and I arrived at the hospital around 10:30 pm Monday. Mom was still alive, much to everyone's surprise, and the family was planning to bring her home the following morning on hospice care.
After greeting Mom, (she was not able to respond) I was chatting with my family when my sister, Ruth, noticed that Mom's breathing had changed. Within 30 minutes of my arrival at her bedside, my mom went to be with the Lord. The following is a tribute written by my dad and published in our local paper.
February 2009 page 7
She had wanted to be a missionary, but it never happened - or did it?
Submitted by Glenn Tompkins
Helen Tompkins (1926-2009) was a housewife with a quiet disposition and a sweet smile. She taught Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Bible studies, as well as being a partner with her husband in his ministry as a pastor, teacher and evangelist. She taught people to read as a volunteer with the Literacy Volunteers and spent time helping women with a variety of needs. She had a tender heart, always willing to help others. She also spent time playing the violin, keyboard and psaltery and praying for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She raised five children. This was her m;uor ministry.
The oldest, Richard, went to serve his
country and was killed in a motorcycle accident in Thailand at the age of 21.
Nancy, her oldest daughter, works in the field of social work with children and families. In addition, she is a Sunday School teacher, wife and mother, volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter and well respected by everyone.
Bob has worked as a repairman for mobile homes and recreational vehicles, but his main work is a ministry in Mexico, Serve and Build Hope Ministry (www. sbhministryJaithsite.com). He and his wife go into Mexico spreading the gospel through teaching the good news of Jesus Christ, helping with physical needs of the people and teaching English. Most recently their work has expanded to building a school where vocational skills will
be taught in addition to English and Bible lessons.
Ruth is a Nurse Practitioner who spent 20 years in The Gambia, West Africa, with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), using medical missions to reach the Wo!of people for the Lord. She was one of the fi rst career missionary with ABWE in The Gambia, pioneering this new work using medicine to meet people's physical needs so that they will have the relationship and opportunity to tell the people of God's love for them and the great gift of salvation that He has provided. Currently, she works as a medical consultant to missionaries around the world from the mission's home office in Harrisburg, Pa.
Joanne, her youngest, is also a mission-
ary with ABWE, working as a literacy specialist in The Gambia, West Africa. Her work is to teach the Wolof people to read and write in their own language. She also writes literature to teach the Bible and truths of God's Word to the Wolof people. The physical needs of the people are great due to poverty and drought. Recently, she helped to raise funds to buy 100 pounds of rice for each home in the village where she lives and works (http://gambiathoughts. blogspot.com).
In addition to her five children, she has nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Helen Tompkins has had a rich, full life touching people throughout the country and around the world.
Was she a missionary?