As she approaches her 90th birthday on April 18, the leader of an international Bible training organization shows no signs of stopping--or even slowing down.
Freda Lindsay is still deeply involved in the ministry activities at Dallas-based Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), which she founded with her late husband, Gordon. The two-year Bible school has trained more than 28,000 students in the last 34 years, and has established 44 associate Bible schools in such nations as Germany, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Brazil, Japan and India.
Lindsay has served as president of the international ministry since the death of her husband in April 1973. CFNI's board elected her president the day after Gordon Lindsay's funeral. "She was forced into a leadership role as a woman and had the enormous debt of a new building," said her son, Dennis Lindsay, adding that within several years everything was paid for.
Dennis Lindsay, who was on staff with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Europe for several years, has served as CFNI president since December 1985.
In the 1970s, Lindsay's role didn't sit well with some who believed women should not be in such a leadership position. "I used to get a lot of letters from people chewing me out," she told Charisma. "I would write them back humbly and say, 'All of these men put me in this position, and I report to these men.'"
Dennis Lindsay said his mother has the hard-working ethic of a German yet the friendly warmth of a Texan. "She can be like a 'sarge' at one moment and the next moment at ease. That has helped her in leadership over the years."
For more than 30 years, "Mom Lindsay," as she is known around campus, has lived in the same two-bedroom apartment on campus, which she said has kept her living expenses low and enabled her to give back to the ministry.
One of 12 children, Freda Lindsay began working in the fields of Oregon when she was 9 years old to help put food on the table. In 1932, 18-year-old Freda Schimpf attended a revival meeting in Portland. As she was making her way out the door, evangelist Gordon Lindsay stopped her and said, "Freda, I thought this would be your night."
Convicted, she rushed to the altar. "I was no big sinner, but I knew I wasn't serving the Lord," she said. "That night, I felt the Lord spoke to me and said, 'Freda, if you follow Me, obey Me, walk faithfully in pureness, you will one day marry this evangelist."
Five years later she married Gordon Lindsay.
In 1948 the Lindsays began an evangelistic ministry and publishing house called Voice of Healing, which was the precursor to Christ for the Nations.
The same year, Israel became a nation, and Lindsay said the Middle Eastern country has long held a special place in her heart. She has traveled to the Holy Land 34 times, and her daughter has lived there for more than 30 years. "If there is one reason Christ for the Nations has been blessed in the areas it has, it is because of our love for Israel," Lindsay said.
Her love for Israel may be matched by her passion to train young believers from around the world. Each year CFNI has about 200 international students, 50 of whom are on scholarship. They are required to sign an agreement saying they will go back to their country to minister in their own nations.
Pavel and Andrey Novik, Russian brothers who are enrolled in their first year at CFNI in Dallas, first heard about the school when they lived in Belarus. "Christ for the Nations is for the nations, not necessarily Americans," said Andrey, whose father pastors a Slavic Pentecostal church near Boston. "Mom Lindsay loves international students."
CFNI reaches 120 nations, has helped build more than 11,000 churches, has distributed more than 60 million books in 82 languages, and provides food, clothing and medical aid to nations in need.
Still, Lindsay would like to see God do more. A few years ago, she says she gave the Lord a list of things she would like to see come to pass in her final days. Among these-- she hopes to complete a World Missions Training Center and build a new Bible school in Vancouver.
The problem? She thinks she may make it through the list too quickly. "If that happens," she said, smiling, "I'll have to make another list."
Carol Chapman Stertzer in Dallas