Meet Your Neighbors: McCarthy found calling in missionary work

Pearl McCarthy made a decision on the path she wished to follow in life before she could read and write.

Her calling was in missionary work.

"As a child, I'd heard missionaries speak in our church," she said.

"At age 5, that's what I felt I would be one day and it's what I studied for.

"But I had to get a teaching degree in order to get a visa."

McCarthy was born in Fox Lake Township, Minn.

where she lived until age 13.

Her family then moved to Sherburn, Minn.

She earned a teaching degree in the mid-1950s from the Denton (Texas) University for Women, but got an early taste of missionary work during 1950-51 ministering to roughly 100 backwoods residents near Frozen Creek, Ky.

It was the first of many missions she would undertake over more than 40 years for the First Assemblies of God Mission in Springfield, Mo.

The work was similar everywhere she went.

It entailed visiting different churches each week and handing out literature in the local language during the day and evangelizing at night in that church.

McCarthy spent more than 40 years in missionary work on Indian reservations, the last four on the Navajo Reservation about 30 miles west of Window Rock.

Her introduction to reservation work came in 1956 on the Apache Indian Reservation.

"I taught at a government school at White River and helped at the Cedar Creek Indian Mission 20 miles away," McCarthy said.

After two years on the Apache Indian Reservation, McCarthy began a 3-year mission to East Pakistan, where she lived in the seaport city of Chittagon.

She ministered to a Buddhist-Hindu society for three years in the Bangladesh area near the borders of India and Burma.

"Unfortunately, I contracted a lung fungus," she said.

"East Pakistan has the highest rate of lung disease in the world.

It rains there seven months of the year every day with some days seeing 10 inches of rain.

Furniture gets covered in mildew."

McCarthy said a doctor told her she had two years to live after contracting the lung fungus, as there was no medication for it.

She told him she had many people to pray for her and they did.

In February 1961, she learned she was healed of the fungus following an examination at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City.

Still, the threat to her health persisted and she ended a planned 5-year mission trip to Pakistan in 1962.

"Most of the people in Chittagon were Muslim and they're hard to convince that Jesus is the Son of God," McCarthy said.

"They consider Jesus a prophet, like Mohammed was a prophet of God."

In 1964, McCarthy married her husband, Harold, and the two spent 30 years together in missionary work before his death from lung cancer in January 1997.

She said they built the Mohave Valley Assembly of God across from Needles, Calif.

in 1971 and worked out of it for 20 years ministering to the Mojave Indians.

McCarthy also spent one year as a missionary in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

But it was her time on the Apache Indian Reservation that presented her with her greatest learning experience.

"When I went to the Apaches, I felt I had a lot to give them," she said.

"But they taught me about having active faith in God for miracles.

"Their tribal medicine man was healed of tuberculosis and lived another 25 years, and there what happened with his granddaughter was another miracle.

The baby was one month old when she contracted pneumonia in both lungs and was pronounced dead at White River Hospital."

The family prayed in church before going to the hospital and when they arrived were told the baby was alive.

The father and mother both said they knew the baby was OK because of their childlike faith in the Lord."

That child is 43 today and very healthy, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said she and her husband retired from Mohave Valley to Kingman in September 1991 to escape the heat of the desert.

She is semi-retired from her missionary work today.

In her spare time, she enjoys visiting and talking with people and travel.

"In 1998, I went to the Holy Land for the first time," McCarthy said.

"Harold and I planned to go to Israel before he got sick, but we never made it."

Neighbors is a feature that appears Monday in the Kingman Daily Miner.

If you have an interesting story you'd like to share, contact Terry Organ at 753-6397 ext.