Have you ever met someone who you could say “Wow, the Lord truly lives in her [him]!” I have met a few, and the one that comes to mind right now is my grandma, Betty Kelly. She truly is an amazing woman! Her testimony has held (and will continue to hold) one of the greatest impacts on my life!
A Pennsylvania farm girl, my grandma came to Detroit to work with some missionaries. She went home to Pennsylvania, and he paid a visit. I believe a week later they were engaged.
My grandpa, Bill Kelly, lived on the streets. When he met my grandma, he said he would marry her one day. He cleaned himself up, got a job, and began working for a different rescue mission than grandma did. Long story short, they married (on Skid Row in Detroit, where they helped the homeless). My grandparents understood Detroit was screaming with the need for the gospel! They opened the doors to the New Life Rescue Mission on November 18, 1958.
The first service held at New Life Rescue Mission consisted of a few of my grandparents’ friends and some men off the streets that dedicated their work to the Lord. They had to borrow some chairs and a bookcase to use as a pulpit. They literally sang until their voices went horse. They chose the name “New Life Rescue Mission” because Christ brings new life to born-again Christians.
My grandpa went home to the Lord in 1993 (I was about 15 and unsaved still). It strikes me now that my grandpa was a preacher. Some may not think that is something special, but to me it is the most exciting thing I can think of! You can have your movie stars and pop singers! True preachers of God’s Word are my celebrities! They are a huge deal to me!!
My grandma suffered a stroke in 2004, and she moved into a nursing home permanently. My uncle stepped in as superintendent, and my other uncle stepped up to help him. My aunt also volunteers as secretary in order to keep everything in order. I know that blessed my grandma’s heart!
Sadly, I never spoke with her about her life. Up until the last couple of years, the significance of her missionary life never struck me as special. By then, she was too sick to be able to talk to about her experiences. Now, I guess I will have to wait until heaven to speak with her about this topic. I am finding out more from my uncle, but I really wish I could speak to her to get the first-hand narrative of her life.
As most know, I was called into the mission field in November 2009. I was originally called in June 1995. I walked away from that call a year later, and my Saviour saw fit to place a new call upon my life 14 years later. The original call was filled by someone else – this is a new call. That does not happen all the time! The first time, I was a teenager and never took the time to really talk to my grandma about it. I wish I had! Maybe it would have kept me on track to hear her story. Maybe she could have given me advice and pointers. Now that I am dying to talk to her about it, it is too late. This is really hard for me to accept.
I hear that she expressed joy over a granddaughter with the same call on her life as her. I think about her likes and interests. Never as a child did I think we would share tastes in music, standards in dress, and thoughts about the gospel. I can honestly say today that if I could become half the Christian my grandma was, I would be beyond blessed!