As a child, Dorothy Reed had a lot of time to make big dreams for her life as she lay in a hospital bed. The remarkable thing is that most of those dreams came true.
“I was not a robust child,” she said. “I was scrawny and skinny. I had rheumatic fever and I was hospitalized, but there was always something in my mind that said I wasn’t ready to die.”
Reed spent a lot of her convalescence reading books. A biography she especially remembers reading was about Jonathan Goforth, the first Canadian Presbyterian missionary to China. Even though she wasn’t a Christian yet, the story greatly impacted her.
“That was what spurred me on with a love for telling the story of Jesus,” she explained. “While I was in the hospital I said to God, ‘If You just get me out of here and heal me, I’ll do anything for You. I’ll even be a missionary.’ I thought it would be nice to be a missionary nurse, even though in the back of my mind I thought I’d be a teacher because I loved school. I had so many dreams!”
As time went on Reed became a Christian and followed her dreams. After high school she took training to be a nursing assistant and began working at the University Hospital in Saskatoon. In 1956 she came to Briercrest for two years and graduated with mission still as her focus.
“My Dad, although he was a believer, couldn’t understand why anyone would want to go to Bible school except maybe to find a husband,” she said with a smile. “That’s what I didn’t want. I was still planning on missions but I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to do the nursing part which is quite strenuous,” Reed said. “I didn’t know which mission would be right for me.”
Reed received a clear call to a specific mission while working in the Caronport post office.
“I was in the building doing the books,” she explained. “It was like someone in the room said, ‘Apply to Gospel Missionary Union (now called Avant).’”
Reed applied to Avant and soon went to Kansas City for a four month orientation course. During that time she became ill.
“I wasn’t passed to go,” she said. “I had to get medical clearance. They said, ‘Go back to Canada and get your health back up. Take secretarial training and come and work in our offices.’”
Reed took the advice and enrolled in Success Business College in Regina in 1961. Her excellent secretarial work soon earned her a position training stenographers. But deep inside, she still had a tug at her heart.
“Gradually the Lord was nudging,” she said. “The dream was still there – I wanted to be involved in missions. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll write to Briercrest to see if there’s any need in the office.’”
Dr. Hildebrand wrote Reed back and asked her to come for an interview.
“He points to me and says, ‘You’ll be my executive secretary,’” she said. “So that’s how I came to work at Briercrest.”
Reed promised 10 years of service to Hildebrand. She almost fulfilled that promise.
Eight years into Reed’s commitment, she became engaged to Lefty Reed, a Briercrest professor with four young sons whose wife had passed away the year before. Dr. Hildebrand performed the ceremony.
“Even though I told my Dad I’d never come to Bible school to marry, he was quite pleased that I was marrying a preacher,” she said with a smile. “When I married Lefty in 1973 I became a wife and mother all at the same time. An instant family – I couldn’t have ordered a better one. There were four boys. They were 6, 8, 10 and 13. The Lord had prepared them well and I think He prepared me.”
For the next 16 years Reed poured herself into being a wife and mother. During that time she enjoyed several short-term overseas trips with her husband. In 1989, with her family raised and her husband retired, an exciting door opened for the couple.
“I actually got to live my dream of becoming a missionary,” she said with a smile.
The couple joined Overseas Mission Fellowship (OMF) and managed the mission agency’s guest home in Toronto for two years.
“Sometimes I would cook for three people . . . or it could be 40,” Reed explained. “It just depended on what groups were coming in. There was a lot of variety there.”
Reed marvels at the unconventional way God fulfilled many of her life’s desires.
“He has done so marvelously,” she exclaimed. “Not necessarily in the order that I had thought of. I’ve been nursing, I’ve been a wife and a mother and a grandmother. I’ve even had occasion to teach.”
Today Reed and her husband live in a condominium in Caronport. Although they are both retired, missions still beats strong in their hearts. An entire wall of their dining room is filled with photographs of missionaries – both retired and active – who the couple regularly prays for.
Reed is confident that God will guide their paths just like He’s guided hers.
“God has been so good,” she said beaming. “That verse which He gave me early in my Christian life was, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord and He will direct your paths.’”