Monday, January 5, 2009

Moonyeen Littleton has gone to be with her Lord

Many of you have met Moonyeen Littleton during her 50 or so years as a missionary in India, Egypt and Cyprus. For half a century this fine woman has been part of Interserve. Moonyeen passed away on 31 December at 3.15 PM is Oxford, England. For many years she has suffered from very bad lungs, so she walked around with an oxygen bottle during her last years. The last months have been very difficult. In spite of this, she is remembered as a woman of great faith and happiness. Two people, Janette Blair and Michael Roemelle, who both knew Moonyeen quite well, well this for us:

Janette Blair, once the personnel director of Interserve, writes this tribute to Moonyeen:
In his book 'The Prayers of the New Testament', Dr Donald Coggan writes of the prayer in Hebrews 13:21 "We set the sail of our will; He fills it with the wind of His Spirit". Moonyeen gave me this book over twenty years ago and this particular quote describes for me how she lived her life. I always think of her as someone who knew who she was and lived life to the full. This was my impression when we first met in our Hindi language class in Allahabad India many years ago. Moonyeen did not find learning a new language the easiest thing but she 'set her will' to do it and she succeeded with a great sense of humor. I still laugh when I think of some of the hilarious sentences she created using the phrases we had learned. She had a holy sense of humor.

From Language School Moonyeen moved to Mumbai where she worked with Light of Life, one of the first Indian magazines for believers and from there moved to Cairo for a similar literature ministry. Her time in India and Egypt continued to be characterized by humor, determination and faithfulness.

My last visit with Moonyeen was early November 2008 when Margaret Gilbert and I had lunch with her in her comfortable home in Witney. It was characteristic of her 'will to do' that we were invited for lunch when Margaret had done her best to dissuade Moonyeen from attempting so much. We heard of her twice weekly visits to the local primary school to help children who were weak in English.

Being on oxygen 24/7 did not deter this woman from serving others both outside of and in the comfort of her home where the door was not locked so that people could freely visit. I am sure that many found that she ministered as much to them as they did to her. The memory of this visit is very precious and in my mind as I picture a woman who though obviously frail in body was strong in her spirit and will and still retained her subtle sense of humor.

As I write there are tears in my eyes but they are not for Moonyeen but for me and the challenge her life is to me. Sir Francis Drake wrote in the sixteenth century "O Lord God, when Thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through Him Who for the finishing of Thy work laid down His life for us, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ". I believe that Moonyeen knew that true glory because she knew herself and she knew her God. I thank God for her.
Michael Roemmele, a retired Interserve international director, remembers Moonyeen:
Moonyeen was a VERY LIVE person: she was INTERESTED and (therefore) INTERESTING. She loved people and endeared herself to many friends, keeping up contact with dozens from different times of her life. Wherever she lived, she loved to find out as much as possible about the people, customs and culture, and her friends were drawn from many parts of the world.

Moonyeen’s enquiring and creative mind found expression in commitment to the world of Christian literature. She loved India, and worked with the editor of the Bombay-based magazine “Light of Life” which aimed to stimulate and encourage Indian Christians.

When she moved to Cairo her enthusiastic interest embraced the Arab world, as she helped edit “Magalla”, a magazine launched to commend the Good News of Jesus Christ to people of all Faiths, and helped with its “Pen Pals” programme. In her love for people she also gave herself to the Anglican church’s ministry with Sudanese refugees.

Next in her list of “adopted countries” was Cyprus, where in addition to having a local ministry with Indian and Filipino maids she worked in the International Office of Interserve, coordinating its Information Service.

Retirement to England for health reasons did not diminish her love for others and her Lord, and to the end she maintained a lively interest in people, and her concern to encourage everyone to go on growing spiritually. Despite growing difficulties with breathlessness, this took her on international trips visiting “old” friends, while equally extending her love and caring to her neighbours and their children.
One with a truly servant heart, Moonyeen’s life can perhaps be summed up in her oft-used words “Can I help you?”. She truly helped many.
The Lord is with you, Moonyeen!

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