GraceConnect eNews, No. 119, Week of September 28, 2015


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
Willie Edmiston (second from left) and her family in San Ysidro around 1965. The vehicle was a donation from the North Long Beach Brethren Church for use in the ministry.

Willie: Serving the Lord

Several months ago we featured Bertie Hanson, world traveler, in our newsletter. In this week’s story, we talked with her sister, Willetta (Hanson) Edmiston, who was a missionary to Southern Texas and Mexico with her husband, Sibley, for 12 years.

Willie grew up in Long Beach, Calif., where she married Sibley in 1946 -- six weeks after Sibley returned to the U.S. after the conclusion of World War II. The newlyweds attended Wycliffe Summer School of Linguistics in Saskatchewan, Canada.

“Although Sib’s desire was to serve in a foreign field, while interviewing with the Brethren Foreign Board, an immediate need arose for a missionary at the Brethren Home Missions site in Taos, New Mexico [in 1949],” Willie recalls. “Since Sib knew Spanish, they asked if he would be willing to be an intern there until they could find a replacement. Sam Horney was able to come in December to carry on the work.”

After working in Taos, Sibley recognized his need for more biblical training. They moved to Winona Lake in 1950, where for the next three years Sibley attended Grace Theological Seminary. The couple moved to Laredo, Texas, in 1953, to work across the border in Nuevo, Laredo, Mexico, where they ministered for three years supported by their home church in North Long Beach, Calif.

“After a brief furlough replacement for the Haag missionary family in San Ysidro, Calif., our next assignment under the Brethren Foreign Missionary Board was two years in Guanajuato, Mexico. Sib took classes at the University of Guanajuato and had a ministry among the students there,” said Willie.

“Our oldest three children, Leandra, Linda, and Dick attended the local public Spanish speaking school. Neighborhood children and classmates were invited over to their home to hear Bible stories and learn memory verses. There were fun times, too, like neighborhood birthday parties where they had traditional piñatas.”

While the Edmistons served in Guanajuato, Walter and Alys Haag and Roy  Dorothy Hoard were working in Tijuana, Baja California and began a Mexican Bible Institute. She remembers they invited Sib to come help them teach. So the family moved to San Ysidro, Calif., traveling across the border to Tijuana for their work, hosting Sunday school programs and summer camps, and classes.

The Edmistons did this for the next seven years, the remainder of their tenure with the Brethren Foreign Missionary Society (now Encompass World Partners). In addition to teaching in the Bible Institute, there were opportunities to work in Brethren missions in Aleman and Jardin Colonies, vacation Bible schools, and other regular meeting places.

“The most fun of all were the weeks of Summer Camps in the mountains. It was very primitive and required lots of preparation, but the memories live on,” recalls Willie. 

“There were scary things about it and surprisingly good things,” Willie recalls. “[Especially] the faithfulness [of the Mexican Christians] once they do come to know the Lord.”

Although no longer supported by the Foreign Missionary Society after 1966, the family remained in the border town area for the next 20 years. Sib obtained employment with the U.S. Post Office and Willie became an elementary school secretary.

They returned to Winona Lake/Warsaw in 1988. Sibley passed away in 2010 at the age of 89. Two years later, Willie’s younger sister, Alberta (Bertie) Hanson, came to live with her. The two share a Robin Hood home at Grace Village.

Willie fondly remembers the births of her seven children and how they represent the various places that the Edmistons lived and served over the years: The two oldest girls, Leandra and Linda, were born in Long Beach, Calif. Richard was born in New Mexico, while Dan was born during the seminary years in Winona Lake/Warsaw. Duane (deceased) was born in Texas, Lorraine in California, and Doug (deceased) was born in Guanajuato, Mexico.


[Your Turn]


"Serving the elderly is more than a moral obligation; it is a divine obligation," says Ivanildo Trindade, lead pastor of Grace Church, a Grace Brethren church in Lititz, Pa. Read more about Life Does Not End At 50! on his blog, Pastor Ivanildo.

Unrest has again broken out in the Central African Republic. One report indicates that at least 5,000 people have left their homes to find refuge at the airport. Water for Good, a cooperating ministry in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, reports that their offices in Bangui were looted for a second time, the first time being in 2013. Pray for this country in crisis! You'll find regular updates at Encompass World Partners (click the news link) and Water for Good (see the blog link). Both sites have links to additional news stories about the situation.


Here is one of a students "leading the way" at Gateway Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Parkesburg, Pa. (Scott Feather, pastor). This was shown in Gateway Kids last week, under the leadership of Susan Nutter Pacella, and then the kids made more than 60 cards with love for people in the Gateway family who are sick.

[Leader's Corner:]

The Focus Retreats for leaders in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches are underway! The theme is "Leverage" and the sessions are led by Clancy Cruise, pastor of the Grace Brethren Church, Marysville, Ohio, and incoming executive director of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (beginning in mid-2016). The first retreat was held at Camp Clear Lake in the Northwest District of Grace Brethren Churches. Next week, October 5-7, leaders from the Central Region will descend upon Maumee Bay State Park on the shores of Lake Erie. The East retreat will be held October 19-21 at Ocean City, Md.

Click here for additional information, to register, or for dates in 2016.
Welcome Scout!
Meet Scout Serenity Grace Sanders! She was born Monday, September 28, to MariJean and Caleb Sanders. MariJean is the editorial coordinator for GraceConnect and the primary writer and editor of the GraceConnect eNews.


Events in the FGBC

October 5-7, 2015 – Central Focus Retreat (FGBC)
October 19-21, 2015  East Focus Retreat (FGBC)
October 30-31, 2015  WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Columbus, Ohio  (WGUSA)
November 2-6, 2015 – Charis International Leadership Encounter, Bangkok, Thailand (EWP)
November 13-14, 2015  WLS: Women & Scripture, Elizabethtown, Pa.  (WGUSA)
January 15-16, 2016 – WLS: Women & Scripture, Ocala, Fla.  (WGUSA)
January 22-24, 2016  Kalahari Retreat, Sandusky, Ohio (FGBC)
January 25-27, 2016  Southwest Focus Retreat (FGBC)
January 27-19, 2016  Fellowship Council (FGBC)
March 14-16, 2016  South Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
June 13-17, 2016 – Encounter SoCal (EWP)
June 19-25, 2016  The Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Canada (GBC)
June 27-July 1, 2016 – Encounter Atlanta (EWP)
July 22-25, 2016  Vision Conference, Toronto (FGBC) 
July 26-31, 2016  Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to
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