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Leona Taves

Retired Support Staff
"Living a Life through Prayer"
By Kristen Cline, Intern, Decemeber 2008

For Leona Taves, one simple question—“What more can I do?”—led to her eventual move from Casselton, North Dakota, to Marion, Indiana. She asked the question of missionary nurse Mildred Newman during a meeting at a friend’s house because Leona didn’t believe that it was enough to simply listen to Mildred, take up an offering, pray for her, and then send her on her way. Leona wanted a chance for deeper involvement, and she found it by starting the suggested “Prayer Band.”

Prayer Bands were groups of Christians dedicated to intense and intentional prayer for missionaries. Leona remembers serving as vice president of her local Prayer Band for about three years before taking the next step and attending a seminar held in Marion. Not too long after returning home, Leona received a surprising letter from Miss Charlotte Barnum, leader of the Prayer Bands, inviting her back to Marion, the Prayer Band headquarters.

It was a move she didn’t want to make because Indiana was far from North Dakota and her family, so Leona did the one thing she knew best—pray. She asked God to give her a sign, to lead her in the right direction. She wasn’t, however, prepared for God’s prompting to come in such a small, unique package. That week, while resting on her porch, a canary sang Where He Leads Me. “Every verse,” Leona emphasizes. Still a little hesitant, Leona looked to scripture and God led her to Acts 10:20: “Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them” (KJV).

Leona then turned down a sizeable bonus, gave her two weeks’ notice, and waited patiently for her parents’ approval. She was 33 at the time but knew her parents would rather she stay with them than move across the country. Not too long after Leona mentioned the new job offer and potential move, her mom slyly told Leona that the luggage in the spare bedroom really wasn’t enough and that she and her father would like to buy her new luggage for the trip.

“We had a party the Sunday before I left,” recalls Leona excitedly. “My father gave me an envelope with twice the amount of money as my bonus! Then my church threw a going-away shower and everything I thought that I might need or want, I got.”

Leona quickly made herself at home in Marion even though her job required a lot of travel to and from conventions. During the 15 years she worked with Prayer Bands and then the five following years when she served as the director, Leona found herself supervising conventions and Prayer Band auxiliaries, presiding over business sessions, and reading and responding to Prayer Band prayer request report cards.

But what Leona loved most was seeing miracles through Prayer Bands like the one in Minnesota. During this particular meeting, the group was praying for the Maasai people in Africa, specifically for fresh water. At that time their “brothers and sisters in Christ” were filtering water out of elephant footprints and boiling it to drink because they didn’t have a well. “A little sickly lady in a wheelchair came in,” states Leona with concern still evident in her voice. “I was worried that the lady wasn’t even strong enough to be there.” As soon as the woman finished praying, however, Leona remembers knowing that her prayer had been heard and that something had been done. “It was one of those prayers,” recalls Leona with a fond light in her eyes. Not too long after that prayer meeting, a missionary named Jimmy Lentz came back and told of how a spring had been found.

September 15, 1975, marked both Leona’s 20th year with WGM and her retirement. However, no longer working for WGM didn’t mean instant boredom for Leona. She finds great pleasure in retirement, having recently returned from a road trip out West with housemate and fellow WGM support staff retiree Kay Young. When at home, Leona generally fills her time with cooking and reading. She attends Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion, serves as an assistant Sunday School teacher, and participates in a women’s Bible study.

One of her main activities, however, is researching and writing about her family—from German missionaries in Russia to pioneers in covered wagons in Minnesota. She has already written Leona’s Legacy and is currently working on a book about her family’s heritage entitled Ona’s Oldies. Most of all, Leona humorously recognizes that she now has more time than ever to practice what she always preached: prayer.

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