I first met Isabel Dittamore at a co-worker’s home in Hong Kong. She surprised me by not being grandmotherly. Her no-nonsense attitude cut through trivia and got to what mattered. Where did she get such spunk? In her book, He Leadeth Me, she as the oldest of 9 Maxey children wrote: Father and Mother dedicated each one of us to the service of Jesus Christ when we were born.
As a child she heard of Jesus’ brave servants such as Albert Shelton, whose book, Pioneer to Tibet, has been much read. A lady serving in China gave her as a girl a fine pair of chopsticks. From then until she graduated from Boise High School, she wanted to serve among Tibetans and Chinese.
As a college freshman she heard J. Russell Morse speak of Tibet and wanted to quit school and go. He convinced her to train and grow in Jesus. She completed her BA degree and 6 years as a news correspondent, teacher, secretary and church music leader before going to China.
Back in America she organized a student volunteer group to study the world’s need for Jesus. Many of those students later served greatly abroad.
I recall her stern warning: Be sure when you promise to give up all for God that you understand what “all” means. Why?! She gave up on marrying, then married in her late 30s, then lost her 1st born at 6-months, then her husband of 3 years to typhoid, leaving her a widow with an infant daughter in China. She stayed to strengthen some 12,000 Christians 5 more years until communism ran her out. In Japan she started a radio station, a church and wrote training materials then on to do the same in Taiwan off China’s coast!