“And now I entrust you to God and the message of His grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those He has set apart for Himself,”
Acts 20:32 (NLT)
“You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’” Acts 20:34-35 (NLT)
Even well into her later years, longtime ministry staff member Millie Redding-Thompson was quick to dance at grandkids’ weddings. She also loved to reach out to people by posting regularly on Facebook—to her more than one thousand friends! Millie took every opportunity she had to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Friend, it fills my heart with sadness that Millie, 90, and her husband, Thom Thompson, 88, died in a recent and tragic carbon monoxide poisoning accident.
And though my heart may be full of sadness, it is equally full of gratitude and inspiration.
You see, Millie was easily one of the most beloved members of our staff. Her life truly embodied the phrase “a lifetime of service.” She was such a light to others. I want to share with you some of her background and legacy in hopes that her “lifetime of service” can inspire even more people! Here are some highlights from Millie’s life:
After graduating from Biola University in 1950, Millie and her first husband, Elcho Redding, became missionaries to India. Nearly a decade later, they became missionaries to Tibet. They loved––and were loved by––the Tibetan people, even befriending the Dalai Lama. In fact, on one of his recent trips to America, one of the Dalai Lama’s formal requests was to meet Millie again in person!
Millie was married to Elcho for 59 years. She happily remarried to Thom, years following Elcho’s passing, at 89-years-old.
If you knew Millie, you knew that people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances were naturally drawn to her and her openness. Millie was always welcoming. Her gift of hospitality, in fact, always had her welcoming strangers, offering a cup of tea and bringing people into the Redding home. I truly believe that her selfless service and contagious smile showed people the face of God. She was so many things to so many people. Millie was a wife, teacher, mother, mother-in-law, and friend. She was called Mom, Grandma, Sister, Daughter, and Disciple.
Her wonderful gift of hospitality and sharing produced even more fruit in 1967, when the Reddings joined International Students, Inc. The ministry, in which the Reddings ministered to international students in Orange County, truly never ended. Millie, even in her senior years, remained a strong ambassador for the Lord!
I had the privilege of speaking at Millie’s memorial service in Washington, which gave me an opportunity to praise God for a life well lived. We love and miss Millie and Thom––but we also rejoice in their testimony. And we’re heartened to realize that these are the kinds of people who comprise International Students, Inc. Millie has left a trail of thousands of international students she had infused with hospitality, salvation in Christ, and a passion for the Great Commission. Millie lived her life here on earth for the Lord, and the Lord alone. I am truly honored and blessed to have known such an incredible person.
I want to take a moment to remind and encourage you of this important fact: When you take the time to lift up International Students, Inc. in prayer, or when you make the time to volunteer with us, you help create the same kind of ripple effect that Millie initiated time and time again when she poured out her life to reaching international students.
Friend, when you do this, you impact the lives of students like Mary. A Communist party member, Mary began attending a Friday Night Fellowship, then a Discovery Bible Study. She soon accepted Christ! After being baptized, Mary began enthusiastically sharing her faith with others, including with her parents. Despite the huge risk, Mary simply did not know another way to follow Jesus than to share His Good News with others. One day, her father unexpectedly shared something he hadn’t told her mother––that he’d also been seeking the truth about God. Mary has since returned to Asia, where she continues her witness not only to her parents, but to friends she’s invited to church, and continues Bible study over Skype.
When I think about Millie and all of our other dedicated staff members and volunteers, I am reminded of just how much you touch the lives of students like Mary. You are literally helping to change lives! What better gift to give someone than sharing the Good News of Jesus and the opportunity for everlasting life through Him!
I am reminded of when Paul gave his last message to the elders of the church at Ephesus. In knowing that he would never see them again, he advised them to guard themselves and guard God’s flock. Later in the passage he tells them, “You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’” Acts 20:34-35 (NLT).
As I reflect on Millie’s “lifetime of service” and our staff and volunteers here at International Students, Inc., I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you for your dedication to living out the Great Commission! Thank you for so boldly living out the words of Jesus Christ!
For More Information
Learn more about International Students, Inc.