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69-Year Old Woman Proves Age is No Barrier to Mission Work
by Shawn Hendricks/Teresa Neumann : Mar 10, 2006 : International Mission Board
Elsie McCall, 69, from Lakeland, Florida, is a single woman who jokingly calls herself an "unclaimed jewel." Five years ago, feeling that she was ready for "something more," McCall entered the mission field in Burkina Faso, West Africa - a move she calls "coming home."

Elsie McCall "I know some people my age won't [participate in overseas missions] because they have grandchildren and children they don't want to be away from," she said. "And being single, I don't have that. Up until I was in my early 20s, I thought I would get married and have five or six children," McCall said. "My life has been very, very different than I first thought it would be. It's good. I'm not complaining."

McCall inspires her friends and others. "I try to challenge them that if I can do it, they can, too," she said. "God has called some of them to stay where they live and be missionaries there, but He has called some of them to go around the world and be missionaries."

"When I go to America, after about three weeks, I'm ready to come back to Burkina Faso," said McCall. "As long as I stay healthy, I'm going to stay here."

The Southern Baptist International Mission Masters Program gives people who are 50 years and older the opportunity to work along side career missionaries for at least a two-to-three-year term.

Elsie homeschooling During her time on the field, McCall has home schooled the three children of missionaries Jay and Kathy Shafto, who work among the Bissa people group. Through her teaching, she frees up their mother to minister through women's and literacy ministries among the Bissa. The Shaftos see McCall as an answer to prayer. "I felt God was calling me to be involved in full-time ministry. So, the only way I was going to do that was if I had a teacher. Without Elsie, I would not be able to do that," said Kathy Shafto.

The language barrier is difficult and it remains a struggle for McCall to learn the language. "You can't ask them about their family," she said. "You can't really witness very well. It's the first time in my life I've felt totally incompetent. I've cried about it; still do."

McCall being a "hero" as some of her friends call her. "I have to stop and tell them, I have a lot of food to eat. I have electricity. I have a lot of friends. I have new experiences almost every day,'" she said. "You know, if anything, I have a better world than they do in some ways."