Henrietta Mears saw the best in the people God placed in her life. Although at an early age her physical eyesight began to deteriorate leading to eventual blindness, her insight into God’s word and talent of seeing the potential in others grew in strength throughout her life. Born in 1890, Henrietta loved God’s word from an early age. She constantly begged her parents to let her go to the adult Sunday School classes at her church, so she could learn deeper truths about the Bible. She taught her first Sunday school class at eleven years old. When Henrietta graduated from high school her eye doctor warned her that she should not seek further education as it would strain what little eyesight she had left.
Henrietta didn’t let the doctor’s orders stop her as she was determined to use her eyesight until it went out. She did her best to listen in class in order to reduce her need for reading. When she graduated from college she went on to teach high school chemistry, but her first love was teaching the Bible at her church. Her classes grew and grew in size as she taught God’s word with creativity and accuracy. Eventually she was invited to be the Christian Education Director at a Presbyterian church in Hollywood, California. She accepted the position and immediately began to write new curriculum to replace the old dull lesson she was provided. She wrote Sunday School lessons for first through twelfth grades which led her to eventually start a publishing company called Gospel Light Publishers.
College students were her first love and she faithfully taught their class every year. The students loved her because she taught such fun, quirky and creative lessons. Henrietta sincerely loved her students and helped them dream big dreams and catch the vision of what God could do in their lives. Hundreds of her students went on to full time Christian ministry including Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade ministries. Henrietta planted many seeds which God watered and grew into great and fruitful trees. She started a youth camp in California which is now known as Forest Home Conference Center.
One year Henrietta invited a young evangelist to preach to the kids at Forest Home camp. This young preacher was struggling with what he believed about the inerrancy of the Bible. Henrietta talked with him and prayed with him. Most importantly she didn’t give up on him, recognizing that God was doing a great work in this young man’s life, knowing God would carry it out to completion. The preacher took a long walk in the forest and then got down on his knees declaring to God that he would stand on the Bible as God’s truth even if it didn’t all make sense to him. Young Billy came back that evening to preach one of the most powerful sermons Henrietta had ever heard. Many kids came to trust Christ that very night. Billy Graham went on to preach his first crusade soon after his experience at Forest Home.
Billy Graham said that Henrietta Mears was one of the most influential women in his life besides his own mother and his wife. Aren’t you glad that Henrietta saw her students as works in progress? She didn’t give up on them. She didn’t focus on their faults, rather she poured into them and nurtured them in the Lord. She reminds me of Paul. Henrietta wasn’t imprisoned by being chained to a guard, but she was imprisoned by her physical blindness. Yet just like Paul, she didn’t let her challenges keep her from building up others and encouraging them to be all that God wanted them to be. She looked for the potential and not the problems.
This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. Click Here for More Info.