Thomas and Mary Reid

The newlyweds were determined to be faithful to each other and to God, no matter what.

The newlyweds were determined to be faithful to each other and to God, no matter what.

When Mary Canfield felt God’s calling to move to Africa as a missionary, she faced two major obstacles. One was that she was still single, and the Foreign Mission Board was not yet open to sending single women overseas. The second obstacle was that her unbelieving mother was strongly opposed to Mary’s desire to live overseas. When Mary met and fell in love with Thomas Reid, who also felt called to Africa, her mother still did not initially respond to the gospel or the call on Mary’s life. Mary’s pastor, Henry Allen Tupper, joined with Mary in persistently sharing with her mother about the need for repentance.

Mary’s prayers were answered, and her mother put her trust in Christ and was baptized by Pastor Tupper. Just two days later, Mary and Thomas were married and immediately made plans to move to Africa. They left with the support and love of the Lord, each other, their families and their church. Their dedication was strong, but just seven months after arriving in Nigeria, Mary died suddenly from African fever. Thomas was alone in Nigeria, heartbroken but steadfast in his faithfulness to Christ and the plans that he and Mary knew were from God. He stayed often in extreme isolation and desolate conditions. When war broke out in Nigeria while the Civil War was happening in the U.S., Thomas lost all communication with the FMB and other missionaries. He also endured months without being paid. He remained a faithful servant in Nigeria until his own ailing health required his return to the U.S.

Nearly a decade later, Pastor Tupper became the second executive leader of the Foreign Mission Board. He was a resolute supporter of sending women as missionaries — both married and single. One of the first women sent during his tenure was Lottie Moon.

Get IMB updates to your inbox.