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Eileen McGuire

Missionary in the American Indian Field
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen..."
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2016

Born on November 4, 1931, in Scott County, Indiana, Eileen McGuire had a unique childhood as the daughter of a farmer who farmed half the year in Indiana and half the year near the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Eileen’s father was a WWI veteran, and he attended veteran’s events in North Dakota with Native American veterans. This early connection with Native Americans had a great impact on Eileen.

At the age of 13, she accepted Christ as her Savior at her small Methodist home church in Indiana.

Although it wasn’t common to go to college in Eileen’s rural community, she earned a BA in Elementary education from Asbury University (Kentucky) after an aunt encouraged her to go. She then went on to earn master’s degrees in science and art from Indiana State University. One December night in 1959, Eileen knew God was calling her to the mission field, but she was surprised when He asked her to work with Native Americans. She had not thought of Native Americans as a mission field, but she obediently contacted WGM to see if there was a need for teachers for Native American students.

After being accepted by WGM, she arrived at the campus of Southwest Indian School in Peoria, Arizona, on July 31, 1960, to start teaching for the school year. She was assigned to teach seventh and eighth grades, which was quite a change from the elementary grades she was used to teaching. Although there were some early missteps in figuring out the cultural and linguistic differences of her students, she quickly earned their trust and respect.

In addition to teaching, Eileen served at various times as dorm parent, principal, and director of the Learning Center and in Vacation Bible School programs on the reservations. She also liked to invite groups of students to her home for games and treats. Eileen took a particular interest in helping students improve their reading and math skills. Many of the children would come to the school with reading competency levels several grades below their age. As director of the Learning Center, Eileen worked one-on-one with the students with specific needs.

After Southwest Indian School closed its boarding school program in 1998, Eileen was involved in the children’s camp ministries at Southwest Indian Ministries Center. She also maintained contact with former students of the school, which she continued to do after she retired in 2005. By then, Eileen had served on the American Indian Field for 45 years.

With deep appreciation for a life lived in holiness and righteousness, World Gospel Mission joins with Eileen’s family and friends to celebrate her life and her faithful commitment to the Lord.

Second Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) testifies of her life: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Eileen clearly fixed her eyes on the eternal, and we rejoice that she is in the presence of her Savior today.

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