Three Ladies of Prayer

In the past 12 months, South Australia has farewelled three wonderful saints of prayer. Since the early ‘70s, in prayer meetings in people’s homes and church halls, prayer warriors represented anybody who toured through Adelaide on deputation before the Father’s throne. They sent care parcels, wrote letters of encouragement and committed to memory the prayer and praise points in partner’s letters. These prayer heroes were, in the main, lowly educated women who developed outstanding knowledge of geography and world politics. They teamed with returned partners and short-termers, mentored younger people in the passion for prayer and launched seekers into careers overseas. The influence of Bible and Medical Missionary Fellowship (BMMF), and later Interserve, was extended because of their intercessions and encouragements.

Win Carson was generous in her prayer for overseas mission and, when she died this year, South Australia lost a Christian woman of great influence and Interserve lost a prayer warrior. Win shared with her husband Cec the lifetime habit of a breakfast prayer time dedicated to many missions and people, including Ramabhai Mukti Mission and Interserve. They believed God answers prayer and boldly claimed righteous territory for the Lord. They welcomed missionaries into their home and after Cec’s death, and even in increasing frailty, Win still clung to the privilege of offering her home for the praying circle so that she too could be included. Win was an inspiration to all and we give thanks to God for her life.

On Easter Friday this year, the Lord welcomed Bessie Eames into his presence. She first became involved with BMMF when her daughter did a short-term stint overseas in 1978; from then on she supported prayer meetings, attended events and more latterly offered her home as a prayer centre. As technology developed, she took a seniors computer course so that she could connect to the internet and print off prayer requests for her monthly gathering. She plodded along using one finger to write emails but much preferred to write in her flowing cursive script. Bessie loved prayer and exercised her spiritual gifts and discernment in intercessory warfare. She rejoiced in breakthroughs and tenaciously never gave up when answers were delayed. Partners enjoyed being ministered to by her nurturing embrace and deep insights.

Within weeks, Jean Illman, a stateswoman for God, also went to be with the Lord. Jean was a visionary and facilitator for all things mission. Under her prayerful care, BMMF was launched in Adelaide in 1959 and through her passionate commitment it grew. She served as secretary for 30 years and as mission representative. Jean supported each partner with monthly letters and treasured their letters, filing them away for prayerful reflection. Her house was the centre for prayer gatherings and fellowship meals, and she hosted every visiting missionary. Jean could see with clarity the needs of emerging mission and prayed to that end. She wrote letters and campaigned to implement strategies that would enable Interserve to flex and adapt to the changing mission culture. Mrs BMMF, SA, has left a legacy of devotion to mission.

These three women were passionate about their walk of faith, knew the power of God’s forgiveness and salvation and understood God’s open invitation to every person. Each was convinced of her calling to prayer and to make intercession for people and places, and was totally confident that God was more than able to hear and answer her requests. We thank God for their lives, their example and the heritage they have laid down.

Now it is time for the next generation to step up and assume their positions.

Tributes by Carol Eames, Aileen Pike and Geoff Pike.