Willing to Be Made Willing
Mary Hermiz, Retiree
I’ve wanted to be a missionary nurse from the age of 4 years old. Myra Martin, a WGM missionary nurse to India, spoke at my father’s church in New York. She was dressed in her nurses’ white uniform, cap, and all. I sat spellbound on the front seat and knew that that was what I wanted to be: a missionary nurse.
During junior high, I realized if I was going to be a nurse, I needed to make some money for nurses’ training. I began babysitting and cleaning houses and finally landed the job of my life: janitor at my father’s church. I made $6 a week! On Monday after school, I’d take my check to the local bank. I’d put $5 in the bank, take 60 cents to put in the church offering, and bought candy with the rest!
By the time I finished high school, I’d saved enough to put me through nurses’ training. It was a diploma program where I got credit for the work I did in the hospital. So, this was my plan: go to nurses’ training, work my way through Bible college by being a nurse, find my husband, and go to the mission field.
During the summer of my junior year of high school, I went to camp meeting in Circleville, Ohio. One evening, a few girls from Circleville Bible College (now Ohio Christian University) came to our dorm and talked to us about attending CBC. When they started on me, I told them they should talk to the other girls. I already had my plans and, yes, I would come to CBC but not until I’d finished nurses’ training.
They left me alone, but God didn’t! I tried to go to sleep, tossing and turning for hours. Finally around 2:00 a.m., I told God how logical my plan was. Financially, I knew I couldn’t afford to go to CBC first: why, in one year all the money I’d saved would be gone! My parents didn’t have any extra money to help me.
Finally, the only thing I knew to pray so I could go to sleep was, “I’m willing to be made willing.” And with that, I went right to sleep. It was all I could honestly say because in myself, I wasn’t willing. At 6:00 a.m., the rising bell rang and I sat straight up in bed. Something had happened: all my desires had been changed! I now wanted to go to Bible college first! The change in me was the most dramatic I’d ever had, more so than my conversion.
After graduating from CBC, I went to nurses’ training, followed by midwifery courses, and finally in 1974 went to Papua New Guinea. I had every intention of staying in PNG to work until I retired.
After working about six years in PNG, the government asked me if I’d open another health center for them. After getting permission from my leaders in the USA, I told the government I’d be willing to do so.
One afternoon after returning from a government meeting in which I told them I would open another center, I decided to do my laundry. As I was washing my clothes, I was weighing in my mind the best way to open the new center. Should I move to the new center and just oversee this larger center or oversee the new center and remain at the larger center? As I was weighing the pros and cons, this thought came to me clearly: “Mary, your work here is finished.” My immediate response was, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” There was no way that could be God.
It took six months of struggle before I came to the conclusion it was God. I wrote to the missionary board and told them I would be resigning. Word got to Dr. Ernie Steury in Kenya, and in a few weeks I received a letter from him inviting me to come to Kenya and start a school of nursing for Tenwek Hospital. I quickly told him I was a “bush nurse” not a hospital nurse. I said I didn’t think I had the skills to do such a job, but I would pray.
When my term was over, I returned to the USA, not knowing what I would do. I investigated many universities to see the different types of master’s programs they offered. When I called Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, they said they had a course in community health nursing based on the World Health Organization model. Out of the many universities that I contacted, IUPUI was the only one that had a program that appealed to me. I applied and was thrilled to be accepted.
I was halfway through my program when God spoke to me through His Word. In my morning devotions, I had read the words in John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” Nothing jumped out at me at the time, but that evening as I was driving home from the university, those words came alive in my car—I knew exactly what God was saying! I rushed into my apartment, ran up the stairs, found the Scripture and re-read it. What a thrill that I was hearing God and He wanted me at Tenwek!
After finishing my degree (a master’s in nursing with a major in community health and a minor in nursing education), I went to Tenwek Hospital in Kenya in 1986. While God was preparing me for the task, He was also calling Barbara Pinkley from Burundi and Sylvia Finlay from England to join in the work. I didn’t need to worry about knowing everything about hospital nursing. He called others to come and fill the gap. That’s just like Him to work out the details!
GO: Are you willing to be made willing? Several ministry opportunities are available through World Gospel Mission. See a complete list of these ministries at www.wgm.org/go.
PRAY: Pray that the students and staff at Tenwek School of Nursing will continue to grow in their knowledge of nursing care as well as their walks with the Lord. Pray also that they will accurately reflect Jesus as they “Care in Christ’s Name.”