By Linda Wilson
I met Ron Wilson 55 years ago, and the following day he told me we were getting married because that is what God told him to do. Three months later we were married, and so began our adventure.
Two years after that we had our first son, and in each succeeding year we added another child until we had four – three sons and a daughter. We shared a love for each other, for our family, and for God. Those three things were the backbone of our relationship. We did everything with our whole heart and soul.
Ron began his career in the insurance business and I raised our children; however, we knew God had placed a call on our lives. It was never a vision or a voice from on high; we just knew we had something to do.
We have always been active in our church and community, assisting with self-sustaining projects and working with the Hmong people after the Vietnam War. We started with one Hmong family, and like a magnet, we inherited 300. We started a farm project, school classes, and a congregation that Ron pastored while still working. After the Bosnian War we worked with the resettlement of Bosnian refugees and still have many dear friends because of this work. Later we worked with the Des Moines Dream Center to minister to people living in the inner city of Des Moines, Iowa.
In 1992 Ron, who was a board member of Sports World Ministries, and I were assigned to accompany Mike Cobb, a professional athlete, to a speaking engagement at First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa, a church we had not before visited. The service was one of the most wonderful I have ever attended. Ken Groen, the church’s pastor at the time, gave Mike ten minutes to share. He told him, “If God leads, speak as long as you are led.”
At the end of that service, Mike led an altar call that resulted in 12 people coming forward to accept Christ, a testimony to the power of God. As Ron and I left First Church that day, we looked at one another and said, “We belong here.” We had no idea of the journey we had just begun.
In 1997 Ron’s boss gave him the book From Success to Significance by Lloyd Reeb. Ron, who was 53 at the time, enjoyed success as vice president of a billion dollar insurance company. Our four children had graduated from college and begun their independent lives. Ron made the decision that it was time to do more for God, so he retired with a small pension to do whatever God wanted him to do.
Ron’s last official duty for his company was to go to Washington, D.C., to the National Prayer Breakfast. While there a friend introduced him to Dois Rosser, a builder and Christian entrepreneur who was building churches in third world countries. Dois invited Ron to travel to India and Africa with him two weeks later.
That same year Paul Canfield, the Executive Director of Open Bible Global Missions at that time, had traveled to India for a Pentecostal conference and connected Ron with John Paul, the pastor of Open Bible Church of God in India. Paul Canfield had made an exciting discovery a few months prior: there were more than 60 Open Bible churches in India that Open Bible Churches in the States had known nothing about. He learned that Open Bible Church of God in India had been established in the 1930s by Open Bible missionaries Willis and Grace Clay. The Clays had formed just one small village church and a Bible school before they had to leave because of the war. John Paul’s father, P.K. Paul, had continued to lead the fledgling church. Unbelievably, by 1997 that one small church had grown into a flourishing work that included more than 60 village churches. After Paul Canfield shared this amazing story at First Church one Sunday, Ron offered to introduce Paul to Dois Rosser.
Six months after their trip to India, Ron received a call from Dois, who said, “Ron, God did not intersect our lives without a reason. I can tell you are a man of integrity and that you love the Lord. I will give money to Open Bible to build churches if you will oversee the work.”
Thus we began our work. I got a job to help bring in additional income, and Ron went to work raising funds and serving the Lord in India, Africa, Cuba, and other countries throughout the years. Ron took groups of people two or three times a year on vision trips to give them the vision of what we can do for others as our fulfillment of the Great Commission. I was able to travel with him to the churches, and I accompanied him to India once a year. Ron and I both knew this was the answer to the calling we had hungered for all those years. This was what God had prepared us for. After a time Dois moved on, but Open Bible people had opened their doors and hearts to our work, and we continued to share the vision God had given us.
I could share the many miracles and healings we have seen through the years, but what I really want to share is the experience that brought us to the fulfillment of the call we felt on our lives. Many feel this type of call but are not sure how to respond.
One of our grandsons lamented the fact that his grandpa, who passed away January 1, 2020, isn’t still here to tell him what he is supposed to do with his life. I believe Ron would have told our grandson and anyone else who feels they have a call on their life to pray, read the Bible, and let God lead. If you treat people with kindness and love, you will know in your heart if you are in God’s will. Live in such a way that when the doors of opportunity are open you are prepared and ready to walk through them. Never second guess what purpose the task may have for you. God knows and you will understand in time.
This has certainly been our experience. Human nature drives us to want to know what we should do right now. Unfortunately, we don’t know what God has planned for our lives. I can see how God prepared us in His own way for His own purpose. As I continue our work in India, I imagine that Ron is still watching over me, our children, and our work. I pray that I will go forward and fulfill our calling in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
About the Author
Linda Wilson serves as an Open Bible missionary ambassador, traveling frequently to India. She and her late husband, Ron, helped to build 122 Open Bible churches throughout several countries, dig 98 wells, and raise support for 21 orphanages.