Linda Thompson, 80, keeps a list handy of International Mission Board missionaries that is about 330 names long. Daily, Thompson prepares handwritten cards to send to them – about ten per day – despite her advancing macular degeneration.
“I pray over every word that God will use it for his glory,” Thompson wrote in a card to the NOBTS Communications staff, one among many uplifting cards she mailed out that day. “I hope I can say words of encouragement.”
Long known by friends at home in Norwood, La. as “the card lady,” Thompson sends out around 35 cards a month also to friends around the state. Though she writes many cards, her primary ministry, Thompson explained, is ministering to senior adults as she visits seven local nursing homes and 25 homebound friends weekly, and leading recreation for the Council on Aging.
That is, until COVID brought life to a standstill.
“I was miserable,” Thompson said. “Never in my life had I not been involved in some type of personal ministry. I didn’t feel right not doing something for the Lord.”
Thompson prayed and asked the Lord what she could do. He answered, “Write cards.” Her new ministry of sending cards to missionaries began.
For decades, Thompson had been active in ministry as a pastor’s wife, campground ministry leader, volunteer worker on the international mission field, and in other ministries. She and husband Elton (M.Div., ’85) answered God’s call to full-time ministry about forty years ago and came to NOBTS following his long career in the U.S. Air Force.
While at NOBTS, the couple worked with Global Maritime Ministries, the Southern Baptist ministry led by Philip Vandercook to port workers along the Mississippi River, and hosted crews of seafarers in their home at that time, in LaPlace.
After her husband’s passing a few years ago, Thompson devoted her time to serving senior adults, leading recreation for the Council on Aging, and other ministries.
Thompson’s plan to send cards to missionaries came together after she spoke to a representative at IMB. Because missionaries – some which may be in restricted areas – may have special arrangements for mail, Thompson sends the cards to IMB and IMB forwards them on through the proper channels.
“It brings so much joy to my heart,” Thompson said. “I tell [the missionaries] I don’t want them to write me back. I don’t want to take time away from their jobs and I don’t want to interfere with the things they put their time into.”
After reading about NOBTS alums Chris and Katie Nalls in NOBTS’ Vision magazine (Winter 2020/21), Thompson included them also on her list. Her goal is to send each missionary a card every three months.
Friends at her church – Norwood Baptist Church – often help by helping with the cost of postage or by providing cards or inkpens.
“I run out of pens all the time,” she quipped.
While writing cards is a lost art, Thompson knows that people love receiving them. As she writes, she bathes each card in prayer.
“I’m very, very serious about my praying,” Thompson said. She added, “While my eyesight is poor, my heart is rich.”