Dr. Rebekah Naylor, retired missionary with the International Mission Board, delivered the chapel message Sept. 15 in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. The service was the second chapel event of GO Week, which focuses on Global Outreach on the OBU campus. The week runs from Sept. 13 to Sept. 18 and includes three themed chapel services, a GO fair and a simulation event.
Naylor earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Baylor University and M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She was the first female resident in general surgery at Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas. She was appointed by the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention to serve as a missionary in India in 1973.
Arriving at the new Bangalore Baptist Hospital in early 1974, she launched a missionary career that included busy clinical practice, administrative responsibility and teaching. She led major expansion of the facilities and services. During the 1990’s, she organized training programs in allied health disciplines, set up accredited residency training programs for doctors, initiated a training program for chaplains and established the Rebekah Ann Naylor School of Nursing in 1996. She was likewise involved in church development in the state of Karnataka working alongside Indian pastors and church planters, serving as strategy coordinator for the state from 1999 until 2009, when she retired from full-time active IMB service.
Returning to the States for family reasons in 2002, she joined the faculty at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and retired as clinical associate professor of surgery in 2010. Serving as global healthcare consultant first for Baptist Global Response and now for the IMB, she mobilizes health care personnel to meet medical needs all around the world. She continues to make frequent trips to India to participate in the ministry of Bangalore Baptist Hospital. In 2016 the American College of Surgeons in association with Pfizer, Inc., awarded her the Surgical Humanitarian Award. She received the Herschel H. Hobbs Award for Distinguished Denominational Service from OBU in 2016 and an honorary Doctor of Missiology from OBU in 2018.
Naylor taught from Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:1-3. Through these passages, she emphasized the role of Jesus as an obedient servant whom we should praise and model our lives after.
“His greatest work resulted not from his authority,” she said, “but from his obedience.”
Naylor pointed out that Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father to suffer on the cross for our sin for the joy that was set before him, as he was raised from the dead and went to the Father and is now seated at the right hand of God. It is through Jesus that we see the relationship between obedience and the joy that only comes from fully knowing and serving God.
Naylor then recited John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” She then spoke about her own experience with obedience leading to joy.
After giving her life to Christ at five years old, she shared her faith for the first time at 12 years old with a girl in her Sunday School class who had leukemia. “As I shared faith, I remember the joy that came.”
As a teenager, God called her to medical missions. After 18 months of talking about this to God, she realized the reality of God's calling and told him she would do it. Immediately after submitting to the will of God, she felt the relief and joy of obedience.
Through this obedience, she was able to experience the joy of Christ and share it with others through her ministry. Even through hard times, God reminded her of the joy of obedience through the words found in James 1:2, to consider it pure joy when you face difficulties.
Naylor assured the audience that as they choose to obey the Lord, they will experience great joy. She then presented a challenge. “I challenge you today to obey and discover the joy,” she said.
GO Week activities continue through the weekend. The GO fair will continue during the day through Friday in the Lower GC. The final GO Week chapel service will take place Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. featuring speaker Raleigh Sadler, author of the book, “Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking.” The “Who’s Your Neighbor” simulation will take place Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the GC Gathering Room, with lunch included.
Learn more about spring and summer GO trips in 2022.