I cannot recall my earliest memory of Mother, but I am quite certain it is associated with joy. Her joy did not stem from perfect or ideal circumstances but from a deep, abiding love affair with the Lord Jesus.

Mother was born in China during a time of warlords and bandits. She grew up hearing gunfire in the distance at night and could recall seeing bombs in their berths as planes flew low over their compound, but she doesn't remember fear being part of her childhood. She lost a brother to dysentery when he was 18 months old but remembers no lingering shadow of sorrow.

Her mother, Virginia Bell, was a talented and creative homemaker. She was single-mindedly supportive of her husband. Her philosophy of child rearing was simple: Her job was not to make them happy but to make them good. She succeeded in doing both well. Her life's commitment was to serve Christ, her husband, and her family.

My mother's father, Nelson Bell, a busy surgeon, created a secure, loving home filled with music, quality family experiences, and humor. His fidelity to Christ and his service never wavered. It was his life's purpose.

These were Mother's role models. Her parents exercised a profound effect upon the development of her character and laid the foundations for who she was. I observed traits in her that I knew were formed long ago by these two godly people who were committed to Christ and their family.

Mother was greatly saddened when she had to leave the shelter of her home and go away to northern Korea for high school. She often said that God was then preparing her for a lifetime of goodbyes. A young 13-year-old girl whose heart was heavy with homesickness, and had no idea what God's purpose was, she turned to the one who promised to always be with ...

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