July 12, 2016
A Life Well Lived
Post by Brittany Tedesco
I had a lot of growing up to do. In my immaturity, I'd marched down to her office and yelled at her. I can't even remember what my petulant display was all about, I just know it was terribly disrespectful. A few years later, I sheepishly approached her with an apology. The words had barely left my lips when she grabbed my hands and said, "Let's pray." What followed was a beautiful prayer, full of grace and forgiveness.
That was quintessential Jo Ann Lindner, one of those rare people whose first instinct is to pray—about anything, about everything. Anyone who knew her, for even a short period of time, knew this about her. Upset by some bad news? Need wisdom or guidance? Physical or emotional healing? Material provision? You'd go to Jo Ann, who'd stop what she was doing to listen to your problems and beseech the Lord on your behalf.
She passed away on July 3, in her home, surrounded by her four children, grandchildren, and beloved husband of nearly 56 years. They'd been singing hymns to the accompaniment of guitar, mandolin, and piano.
Jo Ann was our Director of Sponsorship—the one behind the scenes working tirelessly to serve pioneer missionaries and needy children as well as those who sponsored them through Christian Aid Mission. Her passion for indigenous missions was communicated by every letter she wrote, phone call she made, and prayer she uttered. She joined our staff in 1979, and looked forward to coming to work each and every day.
In May, she was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer, which had spread to both lungs. In June, we learned that she had brain tumors, which began to confuse her thinking. Unable to continue her cherished work at Christian Aid, she made the difficult decision to retire. . . after 37 years here.
We gathered together in our chapel room for a tearful goodbye. "I've loved my job," Jo Ann told us, and then gave God the glory for anything good she had done. She told us she was ready to go home to be with her Lord and Savior.
"Jo Ann is not emotionally upset; she seems to take the verdict calmly," her husband, John, wrote to us. "She knows where she's going and looks forward to it."
Indeed. I watched a video, which John had sent to our staff, of his family worshipping the Lord together during Jo Ann's final days. Face toward heaven, eyes closed, she lifted one hand in praise as they sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness."
Her spirit would soon be where her heart already was.
"A rose is one of the most beautiful flowers on earth," John wrote. "Regardless how beautifully and meticulously it is made, each bloom lasts only for a few days—at best a week—and then its petals fall off and it is no more. Such is life."
Like any loving husband would, John wrestled with questions of why God would allow the deadly cancer to visit Jo Ann, whom he described as "a model wife, a joy giver, and a prayer warrior for all."
Jo Ann had a special knack for making everyone feel included, especially the foreigners in our midst who were either visiting or had moved to the U.S. and lacked friends. Jo Ann Lindner was their friend.
During her memorial service, her son, John Jr., playfully described their family photos as resembling a "mini United Nations," because of all the internationals who'd stayed at their home, sometimes for months at a time.
Martin Li, one of our Chinese staff members, was deeply touched by her kindness. Soon after he began working at Christian Aid, Jo Ann invited him to join her "lunch bunch."
"Ding! Ding!" she'd call out over the intercom, signaling the group to convene.
Before lunch, she would ask for prayer requests of any need," Martin said. "Our lunch prayer became our fellowship service led by Jo Ann."
Martin told us that, one day after taking his hands to pray for him, Jo Ann said, "Martin, you're my close friend."
His eyes filled with tears as he told us how he'd responded: "Jo Ann, you are my closest friend."
"I feel honored I could personally witness such a godly woman used by God as His vessel, filled with the Holy Spirit, loving and serving the Lord with all of her heart, mind, and soul," he said. "It will take a long time for me to adjust to your absence, Jo Ann. You will be missed by many whom you have impacted."
Christian Aid Mission President, Cynthia Finley, described Jo Ann using words like "hard-working", "hospitable", "always ready to pray", "uncovetous", "leading a life of simplicity", "filling her mind with hymns."
Jo Ann had memorized the words to so many hymns that she never needed a hymnal during our weekly chapel meetings. I'd often hear her humming or whistling the tune to one of them while she worked.
"Always setting an example, she worked diligently for long hours," Cynthia said. "In the evenings she fed visiting missionaries at her table."
I heard more than one person remark on the magnitude of work Jo Ann managed to accomplish, all the while putting people first.
"Her passion was always to support native missionaries who were risking their lives in lands of poverty or persecution to establish a witness for Christ in every tongue, tribe, and nation," said Cynthia. "And to provide love, food, shelter, an education, and the truth about Christ to every needy child."
Jo Ann prayed for every sponsor, every missionary, and every child who crossed her path (or her desk).
I can only imagine how many lives she's touched right here at our office and around the world. How many lives did she change because she chose to be a living sacrifice to the Lord? How many people is she meeting in heaven, maybe for the first time, who were affected by her love and prayers?
"One by one they came
Far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven, now proclaimed."
You might recognize those lyrics from the old Ray Boltz song "Thank You."
Jo Ann, I don't think I can say it any better than he did: "Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave."
We are so glad you gave.
To express your thoughts to the Lindner family, please email Christian Aid Mission at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward your remarks to them.
Please click here to give a memorial gift for the support of native missionaries and needy children.