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Rachel Williams* grew up in southwest Iowa, faithfully attending church with her parents and centering her life on her church community.
She transferred to Olivet Nazarene College for her junior year of college to join her husband, who was also attending Olivet. After one year, they accepted the call to pastor their first church. Rachel wrote, “We were told we would receive ten dollars a week. It turned out that we received the weekly offering, which never made it to ten dollars.”
The family pastored small churches in Iowa, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and northwest Illinois. They had eight children—four boys and four girls. When the children were older, Rachel finished her bachelor’s degree and started teaching school. Thanks to this opportunity, all eight of her children were able to graduate from Olivet Nazarene College.
Throughout, Rachel learned that their best work was accomplished when they had to depend on God to provide for their needs.
Thanks to her retirement income from teaching, Rachel had the resources to travel. She tied her international trips to missions work, visiting Nazarene churches, mission stations, and missionaries whenever possible. She was blessed to meet many wonderful missionaries, national leaders, and pastors, and their devotion and commitment to Christ and the Kingdom inspired her.
It was this travel that would lead her to embody this verse from Matthew chapter 6: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, NIV).Endowing the Future
On one trip to Mexico and Central America, Rachel and her family met a young man in Belize who felt called to ministry. He and his family were leaving for the Kekchi Indian Bible School in Guatemala the next day. When Rachel’s family boarded the bus the following morning, they happened to see that young man and his family board the same bus. It was then that Rachel realized the great sacrifice his family was making to serve the Kingdom. They were leaving for the school with less luggage than her family had brought for a three-week vacation! After visiting the Kekchi Bible School a few years later, Rachel felt that the Lord was calling her to endow a scholarship for students, like that young man, at the Kekchi Indian Bible College. This was the first endowment that she established.
On that same trip, Rachel and her family also met a District Superintendent who treated them with great respect and included them in several special church activities on Sunday. She then met him again at General Assembly and made the decision to honor him by endowing a scholarship in his name to provide funds for educating Mexican pastors. This was her second endowment.
During the course of her travels, Rachel was always aware of the service and sacrifices of missionaries. As a result, she established other scholarship endowments in the name of missionaries from the districts where she and her husband had pastored. These endowments now provide scholarships at seminaries and bible schools that she visited in her travels, such as the seminary in Costa Rica (pictured above) and Caribbean Nazarene College.
After her husband passed away, Rachel began to serve as a volunteer missionary. She taught elementary school missionary children as well as English as a second language (ESL). She served the church for one school year in Romania and one in Papua New Guinea, and then spent time teaching in Guatemala, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Madagascar.A Legacy of Generosity
Overall, Rachel established 6 scholarship endowments during her lifetime, all of which honored those who were faithfully serving the Kingdom. Year after year, these ministries receive a check for scholarship funds—money that represents her investment in young lives and her obedience to God’s call.
In the 1980s, her children provided the funds to build a church in Mexico to honor their parents’ 40 years of service to the Church of the Nazarene. Her son said of Rachel: “Her life has been richer because of the wonderful people (both missionaries and local Nazarenes) with whom she served and worshipped.”
When Rachel passed away in 2017 at the age of 95, her family and friends contributed more than $10,000 to fully endow a mission scholarship in her name to extend her legacy of giving. She is an example of how God takes our faithful giving and multiplies it for the Kingdom, leaving an example of generosity for many generations to come.
*Name changed at the request of Rachel and her family