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Edith Powdrill

Missionary to India
"Here is work to do, God’s call to fulfill."
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2010

“‘Go ye into all the world’ is the missionary commission to the Church,” wrote Edith Glenk in a 1945 Call to Prayer article. Just one year later, she was on her way to China as a missionary with the National Holiness Missionary Society (now World Gospel Mission).

Born in Washington and raised in California, Edith knew she was called to be a missionary to China even when she was a young girl. She loved hearing about her aunt’s ministry in China and her mother’s stories about other missionaries, and she prayed: “Lord, I want to be Thy little helper; show me how to work for Thee.” After completing high school and a year at a state college, Edith received a scholarship to Asbury University (Kentucky). While at Asbury, she applied to WGM and was appointed to China in 1946.

But after only two years in China, it became necessary for all missionaries to leave because communist forces had taken over areas where missionaries lived. Edith decided to go to India instead. Despite the sadness of relinquishing her childhood dream to serve in China, she continued to pursue God’s will. She wrote, “In the villages of India, countless people still sit in darkness. Here is work to do, God’s call to fulfill.”

While in India, Edith attended a prayer convention at South India Biblical Institute. A recently arrived missionary from England named John Powdrill was there, and he was struck by Edith’s sincerity when she gave her testimony during one of the sessions. He introduced himself to her, and their friendship quickly turned into a courtship. They were married on May 2, 1953.

For the rest of their careers, John and Edith’s primary objective was reaching Muslims with the gospel. Respecting cultural boundaries of men remaining apart from women, John and Edith served in separate ministries. John worked with literature evangelism and witnessing while Edith worked with women and children and in Bangalore with clinic patients. In 1975, they moved to Bangladesh, where they used an agricultural project and literature distribution to witness to the Bengali people. John received training in treating leprosy, which allowed him to launch and operate a leprosy control program in a heavily endemic area.

In 1985, the Powdrills moved their ministry to John’s homeland of England. Having served in Asia for 39 years, Edith wrote, “With gratitude we look back and see what great things the Lord has done.” For five years, John and Edith lived in east London, ministering to Muslims. John and Edith officially retired in 1990 after more than 40 years of service with WGM.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV). With great concern that others would find salvation in Jesus Christ, Edith truly fixed her eyes on the eternal. Edith passed away on July 12, 2010, and we rejoice that she is in the presence of her Savior today. World Gospel Mission joins with Edith’s family and friends in celebrating her life and service to our Lord.

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