Elsie Dyrud was the youngest daughter of ten children. She was born in 1938 on the plains of Montana to a poor family who lived in a renovated dining car of a train. She faced hardship her whole life. In her early 20s, God called her to be a missionary to the Navajo People in Arizona, where she remained late into her life. She experienced poverty as a child, poverty as a youth, and poverty her entire adult life. During that time and for the rest of her life, Elsie endured cancer. Yet, because of Jesus, she was joyful in her trials, and the testing of her faith produced steadfastness, and she let steadfastness have its full effect of making her perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (referencing James 1:2-4).
Elsie discipled many women during her years as a missionary. She continued discipling after cancer removed her ability to be on her own. At her funeral, many people shared how she shared her every earthly possession, but most importantly, she shared Jesus. This doesn’t sound like an unwilling disciple; she wasn’t.
As a missionary, she would have opportunities to take sabbaticals and would frequently take these sabbaticals to visit her mother and her siblings. She would often stay with her brother James who lived with his family in Minnesota. She loved his kids but spent most of her time with the oldest daughter Micki, who was a very willing disciple. But she had her sights set on discipling the younger daughter Penny who was ready as a child but became rebellious and unwilling as she got older. But no matter how much Penny protested, rolled her eyes, or was deliberately rude, Elsie persisted. She never gave up. Every meeting, every conversation was centered around Jesus.
Penny eventually married and had children; over time, she found Elsie to be less annoying and, at times, intriguing. Unfortunately, Elsie died before Penny could thank her for her faithfulness and fervent prayers for her salvation and share with her how the Lord had transformed her life.
In case you haven’t figured it out, the unwilling disciple was me. Because of my mentor’s persistence in her love for the Lord and her love for me, she never gave up. She took Jesus’ command seriously because my life depended on it. “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20.
This is her picture. I keep it in the front of my Bible, and I look at it daily. It reminds me that this life is not my own. It was bought with a price by Jesus, and I am called to invest in others so they may know Jesus and have life.
...this life is not my own. It was bought with a price by Jesus, and I am called to invest in others so they may know Jesus and have life.