This past June 1st, Anna Louise Oursland I’m sure had a huge welcome into the presence of her Lord and Savior as her allotted days on earth were completed and at age 93 was called to her dwelling place in Heaven, and I’m sure was greeted by the many whom she had influenced to put their trust in Christ, along with her many family and friends who, as believers, had preceded her in death.
Anna Lou was born at home in Somers, Montana on March 14, 1928 to Gideon and Edna Oursland. She graduated from Flathead High School in nearby Kalispell with the class of 1946 and then attended Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta. After graduation from Prairie, she also attended Western Montana College in Dillon, Montana to get her teaching degree. She then taught in a local rural school (Kuhns) and also in Libby, Montana before she felt called by God to the foreign mission field.
In 1955, she began twenty-five years of missionary service in Nigeria with Sudan Interior Mission. That was the same year that her brother, Al Oursland (my Junior High Principal), helped a growing home Bible study group meeting in the home of Lou and Nora May Auge to call a pastor and begin Faith Bible Church in Libby. That pastor happened to be Clarence Kutz who in June of 1967, became my father-in-law! Anna Lou Oursland would be one of the first missionary connected to and supported by FBC.
When she prepared to head to Nigeria in 1955, SIM told her to pack her belongings in a pine coffin in which she could be buried if she died while on the field! Wowl, that is total commitment! She left, not knowing if she would return to the USA or ever see her family again. She traveled by train to New York and then by a freighter to Nigeria. When she struggled with seasickness on that very long voyage, the Norwegian captain said to her, “No Norwegian is going to be sick on my boat!”
She began her mission career by teaching men at the Teacher Training College in Kagoro, Nigeria and then served as Principal and teacher in a school for girls in Kwoi, Nigeria. and finally became the first-grade teacher of missionary children at Kent Academy in Miango, Nigeria. While there she was also involved in an outreach to the Fulani people in that region. Her love for the African people was contagious and was passed on to her nieces and nephews who grew up hearing of her adventures.
After 25 years in Nigeria, Anna Lou was needed back home to care for her parents so returned to the Flathead Valley where she got involved in numerous ministries at Central Bible Church in Kalispell, continuing her emphasis on missions. As the Lord called her home, she left behind a great legacy of her loving devotion and commitment to her loving Savior. What a “Model Missionary.”
Her story reminds me of God’s call to Abram to leave his homeland and his relatives and to go to a land that God would show him and where He would make of him a great nation (Gen. 12:1-3). Abram’s trust in God and his resulting obedience, got him a place in “God’s Hall of Faith”–Hebrews 11– where we read: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).
We also read how, when Jesus called Simon (Peter) and his brother, Andrew, from their fishing business to follow Him, “They immediately left the nets, and followed Him” (Mt. 19,20). Later, when Jesus was ministering along with His disciples and got word that His friend, Lazarus was sick, “He stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ the disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You and are you going there again?'” (Jn. 11:6-8). The disciples were obviously aware of the danger of going to Judea where the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus. Yet, listen to what Thomas (who gets a “bad rap” later as a doubter) “said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go that we may die with Him'” (Jn. 11:16). He was obviously expecting they may all be killed if they returned to Judea. He was ready to die for his Lord. When he joined up with the team, he “packed his belongings in a pine coffin!”
When God calls us to “follow Him,” we don’t know where that will lead or if we will ever return. We need to count the cost and follow Him. We need to “pack our belongings in a pine coffin” and be ready to die for Him wherever He leads. Anna Louise Oursland did that. Thanks so much for your great example to us. I’m sure there was a “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord” greeting when she arrived.