It is common for a young missionary to leave his parents and take his children to the foreign mission field. In doing so, he is taking the grandchildren away from their grandparents. Occasionally, a middle-aged missionary will leave his grown children at home and go to the mission field. It is rare, however, for a grandparent to leave both children and grandchildren and go to the mission field. Many grandmothers have watched their grandchildren leave, but Kathryn Walker did it in reverse. Her grandchildren watched her leave. No doubt, this widowed grandmother loves her grandchildren as much as any grandmother could, but she felt God leading her to Africa. She left her own grandchildren safe in the care of their parents and went to help African children come to Christ.
I’ll never forget the day we met Katie. She showed up at our school at the end of a chapel service. We had a guest speaker that day, and there was a lot of activity. I was able to give her only half of my attention. She said, “I am Katie Walker. I’m going to Kenya, Africa, and some people have told me I need to attend BBTI. What do I need to do?” I found her an application and said, “You just need to send us this.” With that she was gone. I would never reveal a lady’s age, but that was in the fall of 2008, and she was fifty-six at the time. I said to myself, “We will never see this lady again.” But we did! She sent her application and was sitting in the classroom in August 2009. She did well in the classes and graduated the following May.
Katie did not grow up in a Christian home, but her parents allowed a neighbor lady to take her and her sisters to church. She was saved at age twelve or thirteen at a church camp. She recounts, “I will never forget how I felt His love, and I knew that something in me was different!” Without the help of godly parents, her spiritual growth was slow. She laments, “I did not know about giving myself fully to Him. I thought being saved was all I needed. Oh, if only I had known and understood then how much more there is, my life would have been so different!” It was not until she was married and had three children that she was baptized and began attending church consistently. Not long after, her husband was killed in a car accident.
Katie did not have the opportunity to attend college. Actually, she did not quite finish high school. Nevertheless, she did well at BBTI and kept up with the younger missionary students. She claimed no great talents or teaching ability. Katie said, “If I can do it, anyone can do it!” She did have, however, confidence that God would help her learn, and she knew she could be a servant. With that, Katie left for Africa in February 2011 and served the Lord with the Luke Shelby family in Kisii, Kenya, for the next eight years. She discipled ladies, cooked for Bible school students, did office work and tract and scripture distribution—anything to lighten the load of her fellow missionaries. Katie retired and left Kenya in June of this year. Before leaving, she prayed for her replacement. That person is at this moment sitting in the BBTI classroom, preparing to serve the Kenyans. Kathryn Walker will probably not be listed with Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, or Lottie Moon as a famous missionary lady, but she has been a faithful witness and servant of Christ. She has also been a mother and grandmother to many precious African children; she will be greatly missed by them.