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In Memory of Mary B.

In this series, thoseinvolved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.

[Editor’s note: this article concerns the wife of the Indian pastor who was one of our fellowship’s first contacts in southeastern India. Full names of people and places have been withheld because of the growing risk of persecution against Christians in the region.]

Over the past several years I’ve tried to introduce Lutheran Spokesman readers to the leaders of our sister church bodies around the world. Many have heard the names of pastors and teachers, but often the names of their faithful wives and mothers go unmentioned. Today I would like to tell you about Mary B., a faithful wife, mother, and servant of our Savior Jesus who lived and worked in God’s kingdom in Southern India. In October of 2020, the Lord in His mercy delivered Mary from her earthly pilgrimage to the eternal home He prepared for her through His sacrifice on the cross. For this, we praise and thank Him!
We also give thanks for the eighty-nine years that this world was blessed by our Lord through the life of Mary. The Lord was with her from the very beginning, especially as she was brought to baptism early in life by her Christian parents who served the Lord as school teachers. In a land dominated by idol worship, the Lord provided Mary with a Christian education as she attended Lutheran schools during her youth. Because of the gifts that the Lord gave to Mary, she was able to receive several academic scholarships that allowed her to attend and successfully complete further education at a Lutheran teacher-training school. She then began teaching at a Lutheran school in a small village.
It was in this Lutheran school in the same small village that the Lord, in His love and wisdom, provided a life-long partner for Mary. Mary’s parents and the parents of V.S., who were also teachers at the same school, arranged for their children to be married.
The Lord blessed Mary and V.S. with six children. Their three sons continue to serve the Lord in the public ministry as pastors, evangelists, and teachers, training more men to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s saving Word.
Our Savior blessed Mary with a compassionate heart that overflowed with love. This love led her to many works of kindness throughout her life of service as she welcomed hundreds of orphaned and needy children into their home and provided them with a safe and healthy place to live and grow. Most importantly, she provided them the “one thing needful” as she taught them about their Savior, Jesus.
In 1975 V.S. and Mary withdrew from the Lutheran church body they had been a part of their entire lives because of that church body’s false teaching. Together, they continued to serve the Lord as independent Lutherans until the Lord directed them to the CLC in 1982.
Her son J., who many remember from his time at ILC in the late 1980’s, shared the following about his mother at her passing: “Mary’s life was one of terrific self-discipline and dedication mixed with faith and trust in Jesus. She was very humble, had the power of tenderness, and the strength of love. Gentleness, love and compassion always radiated from her eyes. Even though Mary faced many severe health issues, she professed no fear of dying. She always said that ‘Death is going home.’ She never relaxed, till her death, in witnessing for Christ.”
“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’ ” (Revelation 14:13)

Todd Ohlmann is a full-time visiting missionary for the Church of the Lutheran Confession.