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Caroline (Heater) Smith

American Indian Field
"All things work together for good to them that love God"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2014

While a student at Kentucky Mountain Bible College, Caroline Heater learned that God had a specific plan for each person. But when she announced that she felt God was calling her to be a cook on the mission field, her well-meaning professors suggested she pursue teaching instead. But Caroline was adamant. Isaiah 58:6-7 spoke to her heart with the words, “Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.”

Born in 1936, Caroline grew up in a Christian home in Bellefontaine, Ohio, as the oldest of seven children. After a brief job at the local hatchery after high school, she and one of her sisters began studying at KMBC. Although she had become a believer in early childhood, she truly surrendered her life to Christ while she was at college.

After completing her degree, she wrote to World Gospel Mission asking if there was a need for a cook on the American Indian Field. As it turned out, the cook at Southwest Indian School (now Southwest Indian Ministries Center) was retiring, and a new cook was urgently needed. In 1961,Caroline arrived on the school campus, located just outside Phoenix, Arizona. Until 1998, SIS was a boarding school for Native American children.

Her first few years were marked by adjusting to a culture that was very different from rural Ohio and experiencing a kitchen disaster that almost made her reconsider her career choice. She had accidentally left an oven on, burning 29 pounds of meat and almost causing a severe fire. After everything was cleaned up and new food was prepared, Caroline fled to her room, sick with remorse. On the wall at the foot of her bed was the verse “All things work together for good to them that love God.” In that moment, the Lord lifted her spirits and the young missionary’s co-workers were compassionate and understanding of the mistake.

After working as head cook for 13 years, she went on to serve as the school’s treasurer, a dorm mother to junior high and high school students, secretary, registrar, and other roles. In 1983,

Caroline married Paul Smith, who had volunteered at the school. Together, they continued to serve at SIS in campus security. They also began going into downtown Phoenix to minister to homeless people. In 1991, Caroline retired from SIS after 30 years of missionary service.

With deep love and appreciation, World Gospel Mission joins with Caroline’s family and friends in rejoicing that she is now in the presence of her Savior. Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV) testifies of her life, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

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