Linda Crouch attended Urbana for the first time in 1970, and then again in 1973. She was unsure of what to expect at her first Urbana, because she knew that it would be years before she would go anywhere or do anything in missions. Linda had grown up as an SIM MK in Nigeria. She was just getting started at Moody Bible Institute and despite knowing it would be a while before she was practically engaged in missions she knew the conference would be a wise investment to attend.
As an SIM MK, Linda expected to spend most of her time talking to the SIM people at Urbana, but she noted how enriching it was to see the variety of ministries that other agencies had. One of the best things she sites was the “power of exposure.”
Linda had an attitude of, “God I’m going to start moving toward missions, and you just use this experience to add momentum and refinement to the journey. Then, when the time is right to get involved there will be fuel for the journey.”
Linda reflected on many memorable things from her time spent at Urbana. Precious times being reunited with other SIM MK’s who attended the conference, meaningful worship sessions with thousands of voices, and many wonderful challenging sessions. But, perhaps one of the most memorable things for Linda was a session given by Helen Roseveare.
“I went to a session led by Helen Roseveare. She had been a missionary in the Congo, but I didn’t know anything else about her. She came to the platform and she had this very tall wooden flower. It was a stalk with leaves and bright petals. It was huge so you could see it from all over the auditorium. She said, ‘This was my life that I was giving to God in Africa’. Helen talked about how she was so proud to be a missionary doctor. She had so much to give, she was well educated, she had learnt some of the Congolese language before even going to the field, she had a lot of medical experience, and was well respected by her colleagues. And then as she continued speaking and sharing about her time in the Congo she just slowly and unobtrusively started to break off those petals. She started talking about how God had begun to reduce her and He showed her areas of selfishness in her life. And then she would pull off another petal and share about how God revealed to her, her own areas of ugliness. As she continued to speak and remove the petals from the flower, you saw that slowly everything that she had taken confidence in was taken away from her until there were no petals left. No color, no leaves, just this dry stalk. Standing there, empty. But she didn’t wallow around in that. She said that, that stalk became the shaft of an arrow and God used it to send her further and to accomplish more than what she could have alone. And I guess it was just the graphic illustration of that whole thing that just really spoke to me. What she thought she had to bring to the table and what she was so pleased with and proud to share with God on the mission field. She felt proud in the wrong way, and God had to refine her, and take it all away from her to show her that He didn’t need all of that. He didn’t like all of that. She shared about how God used her African colleagues to show her how she had been offensive in her speech and in her actions. Her illustration proved to me that I don’t need to, or I better beware of thinking about everything that I have to give to the Africans, and that God better be thankful to have me on his team. That was an ugly stench of an attitude. That session with Helen Roseveare was really the highlight of my entire time at Urbana.”
Linda has much wisdom and encouragement to offer those who are seeking the Lords will for their lives. When asked about why she would recommend attending Urbana she talks about how often times people don’t even know that they are called to because they haven’t been exposed to the needs around the world. “If you don’t know what is going on around the world, you may not know where God is calling you! And as you take advantage of exposing yourself to work that God is doing, and you take advantage of surrounding yourself with wisdom you are being filled up and receiving fuel for the journey ahead, even if you don’t know what that journey will be!”
Linda’s one piece of advice that she would offer anyone who is exposing themselves to the possibility of cross-cultural missions is this: “Know your God and know yourself. Know how He has wired you. Be wary of making comparisons. God made you to be you and no one else. And as you get to know your God, and you love His heart, He will show you His hands and how He wants to be reaching out to people through you.”
Linda lived and served in Nigeria for most of her life. It is a place she lovingly and deeply refers to as “home”. After years spent overseas, Linda has now moved back to the states to take a position with SIM USA in the Member Care department. Her experience, wisdom, and time on the field, not to mention her heart for others, is being used and appreciated now in North Carolina, just as much as it was in Miango, Nigeria.