Our Pilgrimage in Mission

By Rader, Paul A.; Rader, Kay F. | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 2008 | Go to article overview

Our Pilgrimage in Mission


Rader, Paul A., Rader, Kay F., International Bulletin of Missionary Research


A passion for mission is in the spiritual DNA of our families. Paul carries the name of a great uncle who succeeded A. B. Simpson as president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. After a time as pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, the older Paul Rader founded the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, which helped birth a plethora of parachurch mission organizations in the days before the postwar boom of independent mission structures. Paul's father, Lyell, imbibed this fascination with mission, confirmed in an extended visit to the Middle East in his twenty-first year. Though Lyell did not commit to a missionary vocation, his younger brother, after whom Paul is named, did. Sadly, he was struck by lightning and died days before he and his young family were to embark for service in India. His daughter later served for many years in Central America. As it turned out, Lyell Rader's five children all, in turn, were commissioned as Salvation Army officers and served abroad--in Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Sri Lanka, and Korea.

Soon after Kay's parents came to faith, her father was exposed to mission in a visit to Mexico. After that experience she was surrounded by missionaries in her home and church. Growing up, she was deeply influenced by the annual Wesleyan Holiness camp meetings, with their urgent missions appeal. In high school she came under the influence of the Luce family, whose scion, George, was serving in Kenya. With a heart desire to reach out to needy children, Kay offered herself to serve God wherever he might choose. By the time we met, Kay's father, Rev. J. O. Fuller, and Paul's, Lt. Col. Lyell M. Rader, were active evangelists. Kay's father for a time was also the regional representative for World Gospel Mission. Her brother, Jim, served in Honduras with World Gospel Mission and later spent a decade in Korea with his wife and family.

College and Seminary Training

Paul was born in New York City in 1934 and grew up in the Northeast. Kay's roots are in the deep South, born in Ocilla, Georgia in 1935. We met at Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky. Asbury, an independent, Christ-centered liberal arts college in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition, has always been a setting in which students responded readily to the call to global mission. There we were confirmed in our calling to cross-cultural missionary service. A remarkable company of missionaries expanded our vision to embrace the need of the world: E. Stanley Jones, Dwight Ferguson (who had been a protege of Uncle Paul Rader and later founded Men for Missions under the aegis of OMS International), Dick Hillis, Ellsworth Culver, the Kilbourne brothers, Bill and Joe Davis, and others. Providentially, our hearts were drawn toward Korea. Bob Pierce, who told us of his spiritual debt to the older Paul Rader, was an influence, as was Paul Chung, a fellow student at Asbury Theological Seminary who subsequently served as president of Seoul Theological University. In January 1956, while still at Asbury, we were deeply impacted by the tragic martyrdom of the five bold missioners to the Aucas (Waodani) in Ecuador.

During Paul's senior year at the seminary, J. T. Seamands returned from service in India to join the Asbury faculty in missions studies. Robert Coleman, who had also recently joined the faculty, passed on to us his passion for evangelism. Coleman was the supervisor of Paul's B.D. thesis, "The Doctrine of Sanctification in the Life and Ministry of Charles G. Finney." Finney had been a formative influence on William and Catherine Booth as the Salvation Army emerged out of the Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, becoming what J. Edwin Orr called its most enduring result.

We decided to move on to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, where Paul pursued a master of theology with a concentration in mission studies and Kay taught in an inner-city elementary school. Herbert Cross Jackson had recently come to Southern from the Missionary Research Library in New York.

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