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Edna Dewey

Serving Tirelessly Behind the Scenes
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. "
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2015

Born on February 8, 1907, in Cavour, South Dakota, Edna was one of nine children. She also has a half-sister and a half-brother, who died in World War I. Her mother died when Edna was 8 years old, so an older sister came back to take care of the remaining children at home so the family could remain together.

With missionaries frequently visiting her church and coming to her house for dinner, Edna became interested in missions as a young girl, especially China. After high school, Edna helped support her siblings in college by teaching in rural schools. During those years, she drifted away from the Christian teachings that had filled her childhood. But the Holy Spirit began to work in her heart, and one Sunday at church, Edna recommitted her heart and life to Christ. Soon after, Edna attended John Fletcher College in Iowa, where she majored in home economics. It was there she met Clifford, a theology student, and the two married in 1940.

When applying for missionary service with World Gospel Mission in 1943, Edna wrote on her application, “My prayer is that Christ might be manifested through me, and that I might be of help to others wherever He leads.”

Edna and Clifford had initially planned to go to China as missionaries. However, when China closed its doors to missionaries, the Deweys began looking at India as an alternative. In 1945, they sailed from New York City to their new home at South India Biblical Seminary in South India. In 1947, they welcomed their son, Frank “Skipper” Dewey, into their family.

With Clifford teaching full time in the Bible school, Edna served tirelessly behind the scenes in a variety of areas—hostess, treasurer, librarian, and missionary kids’ school teacher. Their house was also the post office and makeshift bank for the school. Edna also taught English in the Bible school. Students at SIBS came from all over India and spoke a variety of languages, so English was the teaching language for the school.

Edna and Clifford lived in India for 32 years and came back to the U.S. just five times—four times for homeland ministry assignment and once for a medical emergency. But Clifford and Edna bore it with God’s grace and the resilient spirit that characterized their lives.

After retiring in 1977, Clifford and Edna lived in Colorado for several years before settling in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. During retirement, Edna taught ladies’ Bible classes and returned to her home economics roots by sewing over 100 school bags for a missions group supplying school supplies to disadvantaged children overseas. Clifford passed away in 2007.

Second Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) testifies of Edna’s life: “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.” Edna truly fixed her eyes on the eternal, and we rejoice that she is in the presence of her Savior today. WGM joins with Edna’s family and friends in celebrating her life and faithful service to our Lord.

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