Pauline Moore: From War-Torn Europe to Small-Town Texas

Editor’s Note: Lottie Moon gets a lot of press here at imb.org, and rightfully so. Her legacy lives on as the impetus for generations of missionary engagement among peoples and places around the world. She, however, is far from the only woman whose influence has cast a long shadow on the world of missions. This week, as we look toward Mother’s Day, we’d like to celebrate the lives and work of a few spiritual mothers that have deeply impacted many in the work of missions.


She isn’t Lottie Moon or Ann Judson or Amy Carmichael. Most people have probably never heard of her. Pauline Moore is a little old lady in my church in Brownwood, Texas. For years, I knew her as the lady who sat in the second row at church. My family walked with her when her husband died. She came over for holiday meals sometimes. She was a spunky, sometimes outspoken woman who was always faithful to the church. Always present.

As a child, I was an avid reader. I read anything I could get my hands on. My church had a series of hardback books called the Meet the Missionary Series. One day, I looked up and I saw her husband’s name on the cover of one: The John Allen Moores: Good News in War and Peace.[1] I read that biography then went home and asked my mom: “Wasn’t this Ms. Pauline’s husband? Does this mean the woman on the cover is Ms. Pauline?” It was. I realized that day that missionaries can be the most unassuming people around us.

An Example of Faithfulness

This spirited lady who I knew had served for years in Europe during World War II and after it. Pauline had told the Lord, “I will go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do.” After receiving a letter from John Allen, a missionary in Europe, asking her to marry him, she moved to Europe and started her lifelong journey there.

Pauline had told the Lord, “I will go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do.”

Pauline did not have an easy life there. A few days before she was scheduled to depart, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. One night, she and John Allen were awakened from their sleep by bombs dropped from German warplanes. They were forced to flee. They later stole back to the capital, avoiding German patrols. There they waited to be extracted from the country. They were moved to Hungary, but not long after, Hungary declared war on America, and the Moores were forced to flee again to the United States. They later returned to Europe, where they shared wonderful joys but also the heart-crushing realities of post-war Europe.

Finally, they moved to a little town in the middle of nowhere named Brownwood, Texas. That is where our families’ journeys intersected. John Allen and Pauline joined a church in the area, the same church that my mother and father would join years later. For as long as I can remember, Pauline Moore was an advocate in my home church for missions. She loved God, his mission, and his church. Every year, a group of girls was ushered down into the parlor where she would read the story of Lottie Moon in her thick Georgia accent. She loved the lost and loved telling people about missionaries and how we could help them.

From Missionary to Missionary Supporter

Pauline Moore was my biggest supporter when I decided to become a missionary. She was about one hundred years old when I was packing up to move overseas. I remember sitting at the edge of her bed one day when she asked me, “Why do you think the Lord has allowed me to stay when everyone I know is gone?” And I took her hand and said, “If nothing else, so you can pray for me.” And she did so faithfully. She would ask my mother questions about my time overseas and would sometimes send short messages to me through my mother.

I remember sitting at the edge of her bed one day when she asked me, “Why do you think the Lord has allowed me to stay when everyone I know is gone?” And I took her hand and said, “If nothing else, so you can pray for me.”

I tell you about this mostly unknown missionary because there are several things I learned from the life of Pauline Moore.

We must be willing to go wherever the Lord leads.

Pauline made that commitment at a worship service, which influenced every decision she made afterward. Just as David Platt so often calls believers to do, she wrote a “blank check” to God. And that blank check led her to the other side of the world, with its happy moments, fearful times, and gut-wrenching losses.

In times like these, we recognize that the Lord doesn’t always lead us to be safe. But we go anyway.

Pauline received word that Germany had invaded Poland before she even left for Europe. She could have stayed home. But instead, she trusted God and moved to Europe in a time of unrest. Just like her, we are currently in days of unrest. We don’t know what the future holds. There are many places in our world today that we are afraid to move to and plant our lives. But God calls us to go, so we must go.

There will come a day when our vocational missionary service will come to an end. We must be faithful when we come home.

I only knew Pauline as a retired elderly woman in my church. I watched her in both happy and hard times. While not perfect (no one is), she lived a life of faithfulness even in small-town Texas. She wasn’t living somewhere glamorous or exotic. But she served the church and helped others learn to love missions. Whether we are on the field or back home, we, too, should be faithful to God and his mission.


Anna Daub is a PhD student in applied theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lived in South Asia for two years and has traveled to many other parts of the world. Anna’s interests include orality, Bible storying, the arts, and anthropology. She loves sitting around with friends drinking a cup of coffee, hosting people in her home, traveling, and other adventures.


NOTES

[1] Mary and Trent C. Butler, The John Allen Moores: Good News in War and Peace, Meet the Missionary Series, Nashville, TN: Baptist Sunday School Board, June 1985.