The Following is borrowed from reachbeyond.org
Legacy of Missionary Retiree Nancy
Woolnough Lives On Through Countless Lives
Nancy Woolnough in 1991
(Oct. 31, 2013 - by Harold Goerzen) Sixty years ago
when veteran missionary retiree Nancy Woolnough first arrived in
Ecuador, she was, in a sense, living vicariously through her
father, Henry Woolnough, who had sensed God's call to missions
after being saved during the Welsh Revival.
He immediately set out for America by ship and enrolled at Moody
Bible Institute in Chicago in preparation for missionary service
to India. But after his graduation, at the age of 35, no mission
board would accept him, saying he was "too old."
Nancy, however, was welcomed with open arms when, at the age of
33, she joined HCJB Global to serve as a missionary to Ecuador,
joining the mission in 1953. Now, after a lifetime of ministry,
Nancy is with the Lord. She died in Bradenton, Fla., on Friday,
Oct. 25, at 93.
Nancy F.A. Woolnough was born to Henry and Nellie Woolnough in the
small town of Steger, Ill., on April 13, 1920, learning at a young
age to revere the Lord.
"Dad loved the Lord dearly and studied His Word and had personal
praying habits of two to three hours a day, even while working
long hours in a factory," Nancy said. "I often heard him pray
aloud for me in their bedroom that was next to mine. He also
taught [me and my younger twin brothers] a Bible verse at the
evening meal, repeating it each day for a week."
When Nancy was 4˝ years old her mother died, and her father
remarried a year later. One by one the three children came to the
Lord with Nancy being the first, giving her life to Christ when
she was 11.
Although Nancy never married or had any children, her legacy
continues to live on today in the lives of hundreds-perhaps
thousands-of others. Among those was fellow missionary Betty
Harkins who became her best friend and stayed close by until
College Years (1944-1952)
After working at various jobs in Illinois and a year of civil
service at the U.S. Naval Air Station in San Diego during World
War II, Nancy began attending the Bible Institute of Los Angeles
(now Biola University) in 1944, majoring in Christian education.
"Biola gave me a solid biblical foundation, and I made some
lifelong friends there," she wrote in her memoirs. "It was also at
Biola that I was given a real break into broadcasting." For
example, she met broadcaster Al Sanders, founder of Ambassador
Advertising Agency, who asked her to produce a live student radio
program. "This practical experience, along with the different
courses in radio, gave me a great beginning for a future in
missionary radio overseas."
After graduating from Biola in 1947, she attended the Summer
School of Missionary Radio at Providence Bible Institute in Rhode
Island, directed by Clarence Jones, one of HCJB Global's
co-founders. "This was my first introduction to shortwave radio,
and immediately I knew I was called to missionary radio and
subsequently began applying [to radio missions]," she said.
When Nancy initially applied with HCJB Global, the mission
suggested she first get more practical experience, so for the next
five years she held various jobs such as alumni secretary and
broadcasting professor at Biola, where she graduated in 1947, as
well as youth secretary and Christian education director at
Calvary Church of Placentia, Calif.
"Nancy became a part of our lives at Biola in 1946," related HCJB
Global retirees Leonard and Imogene Booker. "Leonard took a course
from her in radio broadcasting. Nancy was the human instrument
that God used to direct our lives to HCJB Global. She was our
mentor, teacher, kind helper, dear friend and godly example. We
thank God for allowing our lives to touch."
It was while at Biola that she began writing the dramatic
children's radio series, "The Adventures of Raindrop." Raindrop is
a small drop of water who lives in the blue Skyways with Mother
Cloud. She often travels with friendly North Wind on daily trips
that teach Bible truths. These stories were aired worldwide on
Radio Station HCJB and are now available on CD at the website,
AdventuresofRaindrop.com, which launched about eight years ago by
the Bookers' daughter and granddaughter.
Imogene Booker said the series continues to have a spiritual
impact on children "We're encouraged by how many have searched for
it and found the website," she said. "We hear from the parents
about the children's captivation with the stories. We have two
great-great grandsons, and they are listening to them now."
"I listened to the series over and over as a little girl and more
recently purchased it for our eight grandchildren," added Kathy
Drown, daughter of missionary martyr Nate Saint and a friend of
Nancy since childhood. "Now they too love listening to the CD
version. Recently when two of the children wanted to ride with us
in our car, guess which CD they brought along!"
From 1950 to 1952 Nancy attended John Brown University in Siloam
Springs, Ark., earning a bachelor's degree in Bible and radio
production. One of her projects was to produce an audio adaptation
of Robinson Crusoe that would air worldwide on Radio Station HCJB.
Missionary Years (1953-1978)
After a year of Spanish study in Costa Rica, Nancy arrived in
Quito to begin her primary ministry of English radio program
production. For nearly 23 years she helped create 24 programs a
week, producing her own daily show, "Caribbean Call" (later
renamed "Happiness Is"), all the while helping others produce
theirs. For half of those years, all programming on HCJB was live.
She also produced shows such as the weekly "Back Home Hour" and
"Call of the Andes."
Some of Nancy's most popular programs, however, were those for
children. "My earliest memory of 'Aunt Nancy' was being
interviewed by her on 'Tiny Treasures' (leading to 'Gospel Bells'
and 'Teen Town')," recounted Nate Saint's son, Steve. "She was the
Barbara Walters of HCJB…. One of my finest memories of Aunt Nancy
was when she would come to Sunday school and read us stories about
missionaries. I couldn't wait to hear the next chapter of stories
about missionaries. It made me want to be a missionary when I grew
"Aunt Nancy was one of the first, early godly influences in my
life," said missionary pilot Gene Jordan Jr. "All of us HCJB
'rats' loved Aunt Nancy, particularly as she featured us on her
radio programs. It was a real treat to get to go into the studio
for 'Tiny Treasures' with Aunt Nancy and answer her questions
about life in Quito, what our parents did at HCJB … and what we
thought about God, His world, His creation and His Son, Jesus."
"I think that a lot of my early thinking about spiritual things
was prompted by Aunt Nancy's questions" Jordan continued. "I know
that some of her questions in 1956 and 1957 about Uncle Nate and
Aunt Marj shaped my desire to join Mission Aviation Fellowship.
I'm in my 37th year with MAF and glad I followed Nate's path."
"Nancy was an excellent radio broadcaster who knew her audience
well and understood how to reach them with the good news of the
gospel," added retiree Chuck Howard. "She also kept abreast of the
latest developments in international broadcasting and even took a
course at the BBC in London…. Her daily programs inspired me and
helped develop my personal walk with the Lord. I thank her for her
personal impact on my life-an impact that led my wife and me to
return to Ecuador to serve the Lord with HCJB Global for 44
"Nancy launched me into the world of writing," said retiree Kay
Landers. "Around 1961 she invited me to join those in Quito who
created programs. I quickly absorbed what I was taught and enjoyed
writing scripts for many years. Eventually I asked Mary Skinner, a
missionary from England stationed in the jungles, to join me in a
radio program that became known as the 'Kay and Mary Show.' We
laughed as we wrote, and the audience did too as they listened. We
shared our fun and spoke of the Lord."
After Henry Woolnough's second wife died in 1956, he visited his
homeland, England. "On my next furlough I asked my father if he
would like to return with me to Ecuador," Nancy shared. "His face
lit up, 'Oh yes, if you hadn't asked me, I would have asked you.'
So, with great joy he became a missionary at age 75 when he had
been refused by mission boards at 35." Sadly, he died of a heart
attack eight months later.
In 1958, two years after the five missionaries were killed in
Ecuador, Nancy and Marj (Saint) Van Der Puy toured New Zealand and
Australia for two months. The pair met thousands of listeners to
HCJB, sharing the ministry and telling the Waorani (Auca) story.
For 20 years she collected tape recordings about the event,
producing a documentary on two cassettes.
In addition to doing radio programming, Nancy directed the English
Language Service for 10 years, helped in the Spanish and Quichua
language services, edited the mission's official magazine (then
called The Radio Log) and created an in-house
publication, The Yellow Sheet.
She also compiled listener letter excerpts, filled in as secretary
to the president and served on the HCJB Global Board of Trustees
for seven years. The last 1˝ years before taking early retirement,
she was candidate secretary at the mission's international
headquarters, then located in Miami, Fla.
"In a culture dominated by men, she brought the women's
perspective and opened the door for HCJB Global kids to
participate as well," wrote retiree Tom Fulghum. "This helped to
create a stronger family spirit in the mission. She was helpful
when I began doing radio programs as well. She taught mainly by
example and was loved, admired and appreciated by the entire
"My whole time there was a creative experience," Nancy wrote.
"Those in charge gave me wings and opportunities to develop my
gifts and talents. My greatest joy was to work myself out of a
job. My dream was that we could have turned more ministries over
to our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters through the years, giving
them decision-making positions." Before Nancy left HCJB Global in
1978, Biola presented her with an honorary doctorate degree in
Later Years (After 1978)
Upon returning to California in 1979, Nancy kept as busy as ever,
editing tapes for Chuck Swindoll's radio program, "Insight for
Living," that was distributed by Ambassador Advertising. She also
began writing a newsletter called El PeriodiQuito. This
entailed editing letters from missionaries and their children who
lived in Ecuador between 1930 and 1970. The 20-page paper was
issued twice a year for a total of 23 years with circulation of
|Darlene Peters visits Nancy
Woolnough in August 2012.
Nancy also spent a total of 13 years in Georgia. She taught
communications at Toccoa Falls College for 7˝ years (1981-1987).
Among the many taking the courses were Barbara and Harold Smith
who live at Bradenton Missionary Village where Nancy resided for
10 years (1995-2005). The Smiths are actively involved in Radio
Kahuzi, a partner ministry of HCJB Global operated by Barbara's
brother, Rich McDonald, in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo.
"What a provision [the Village was] from the Lord who has been
with me all the way," wrote Nancy who resided in assisted living
during the last years of her life. "My greatest satisfaction has
been to serve the Lord where He led me. My 25 years at HCJB Global
were especially gratifying as I became a part of reaching the
world by radio."
Kathy Drown said she kept in contact with Nancy into her later
years and will never forget one of her final visits with Nancy,
asking how she felt being confined to a care center, relatively
"Without hesitation, obviously having contemplated the subject
already, she answered, 'I am learning like I never did in the
past, to be, not just to do.' She explained that
she'd always been so busy serving that she didn't always take as
much time as she wished she had to learn to be-to be the
person God wanted her to be."
"Nancy often used these words to close her radio broadcasts, 'Keep
your heart tender toward God,'" related retirees Doug and Darlene
Peters. "May each of us seek to keep our hearts tender toward
A memorial service was held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, at
Skyway Memorial Gardens in Palmetto, Fla. In lieu of flowers,
gifts in honor of Nancy may be sent to HCJB Global.
Sources: HCJB Global, AdventuresofRaindrop.com