Decades after living in India, Tillie again served foreigners when they visited our headquarters church in Portland, Oregon.

Assignment: India

July 17, 2017

Tillie was serving God in a foreign land, and she loved her work. So why did she feel something was missing?

By Tillie Nelson

M

y first night in India as a missionary, I was told, “Pay no attention to the lizards on the ceiling, but be sure to shake your slippers in the morning before you put them on; scorpions like to crawl into slippers to keep cool. Also, be sure to tuck the net in tightly around your bedding so nothing can crawl in beside you.” There were not only scorpions and lizards crawling around, but also snakes, including cobras! I went to bed that night wondering how I could ever stay there to fulfill my six-year assignment, but I did.

While there, I learned what it was like to live in a land where God was not known. I saw the superstition and darkness that enveloped that land, and the suffering and sorrow that accompany those things. All this caused me to realize the responsibility I had to teach the truth of God’s Word.

I considered myself well qualified for this assignment, because I had a good educational background. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, I had taught high school for a number of years and then worked as a congressional secretary in Washington, D.C. Also, my family members were professing Christians, and I had attended church from the time I was a little girl. I had taught Sunday school and been active in youth organizations.

Deep in my heart, I knew that a Christian should not be doing the things I was doing, but I didn’t know that if I gave my heart fully to God, He would take away my love for those activities.

However, my family did not know about salvation, and I was just as active in worldly amusements. Deep in my heart, I knew that a Christian should not be doing the things I was doing, but I didn’t know that if I gave my heart fully to God, He would take away my love for those activities. One day I decided to do what I knew was right. I gave up those worldly amusements in my own strength, and put more time into reading the Bible and praying. Surely now I was a Christian!

It was after this that I accepted the missionary call to teach in India. At the end of my six-year term, I returned to Washington, D.C., on furlough. I was disappointed when the door of my return to India was closed, but accepted a position in my church as Welfare Secretary. Later, I was employed by the Board of Missions to visit the churches of our denomination and arouse interest in missions. I also taught a Bible class and organized a Young Women’s Missionary Society.

My brother was a member of Congress, and I became his private secretary. About this time, two of my brother’s sons, who had been quite incorrigible, were out on the West Coast visiting relatives. While there, they attended an Apostolic Faith Church service and were converted. My brother was so impressed with the sudden change in their lives that he urged me to attend an Apostolic Faith Church camp meeting convention being held in Portland, Oregon.

That summer I attended the camp meeting. While there, I decided to seek what I thought I needed—the baptism of the Holy Ghost—but I didn’t get far. Then I heard a teaching on sanctification. I decided that maybe sanctification was what I needed. I began to pray for the Lord to sanctify me, but again there was no answer. Then I heard that if a person is really born again, he knows it. That sounded reasonable, but I did not know when I had been born again.

The Lord revealed to me that I had merely a profession of Christianity. What was I to do? How could I confess that I was not saved after having been a missionary and active in Christian work for years?

I searched my heart and compared my Christian experience with the Word of God. The Lord revealed to me that I had merely a profession of Christianity. What was I to do? How could I confess that I was not saved after having been a missionary and active in Christian work for years? At the close of a service, though, I could not keep back the tears. I knelt at the altar of prayer and asked God’s forgiveness. I asked Him to show me my true self; and what He showed me wasn’t very pleasant. I admitted it all and then stood on the promise that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). He was gracious to me and saved my soul, and I knew I was saved!

How good it was to have a salvation that I knew about! After I had that solid foundation on which to build, I soon received my sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. My only regret is that I did not have this spiritual equipment while serving on foreign soil.

My desire was to remain with the people of God who had prayed for me and with me. I have never been sorry I made that decision. God had a missionary work for me to do right at home, and what a rewarding life it has been! The Lord rewarded me by permitting me to work in the Apostolic Faith headquarters office. For many years I have had the glorious opportunity of helping to send the Gospel into all the world, in many different languages. I thank the Lord with all my heart. Best of all, I can look forward with assurance to the prize of eternal life.

About the author

For many years, Tillie Nelson helped in the Editorial Department of the Apostolic Faith Church headquarters office, where the Gospel message has been translated into many languages and made available throughout the world. Sister Tillie was ninety-two years of age when she went to be with her Savior on March 23, 1972.