October 29, 1948 – May 21, 2017
Free Methodist World Missions is deeply grateful for Linda Stryker’s 33 years of dedicated service to God through the Free Methodist Church (FMC) in Africa. We celebrate her life – a life used to touch the lives of countless others.
Linda was appointed as a Free Methodist missionary by the Commission on Mission in May 1981. She retired in November 2014.
Linda graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College with a B.S. in Nursing and from Indiana Wesleyan University with a M.S. in Community Health. She also received licensure in midwifery from the University of Mississippi. She used her training to improve health care in the African countries she served, emphasizing prevention of medical problems among women of childbearing age.
In 1994, Linda became the coordinator of medical ministries in the Free Methodist Church of Congo/Zaire, which included the Nundu Deaconess Hospital, Nundu Nursing School, and some 45 health centers, all of which struggled to overcome the devastating effects of war. She was a liaison between the Congo Church, the North American Church, and various aide organizations. During the war in Congo/Zaire, Linda continued to minister to Zairians in Tanzanian refugee camps.
Missionary colleagues Dr. Tim and Connie Kratzer write, “Linda Stryker was a faithful servant of God, the church and the people of the Congo. It was in our second term at Nundu in 1986 that we first served with Linda. She was a dedicated, accomplished midwife. Her experience and knowledge as a midwife enabled me [Tim] as an internal medicine trained physician to participate in the care of maternity patients. Linda gave clear guidance as to when C-sections were indicated and she readily accepted my general medical opinion as the need arose.
“Linda knew the church leaders well and provided a vital connection between Free Methodist World Missions and the Free Methodist Church of the Congo. She served as coordinator of the medical work before and during the war years from 1994 to 2008. Often in harm’s way, she was a prayer warrior who relied on the Lord to direct and intervene. Her faith and trust in God was an encouragement to us all.
“We cannot fully understand or measure her impact, but we know Linda was faithful and her service to the people of the Congo produced fruit. Throughout her years as a missionary to the Congo she provided invaluable insights into the heart and mind of the people.
“Beyond her ministry as a missionary, Linda was known by our family as ‘Aunt Linda.’ She was often in our home sharing meals, game nights, birthday parties and medical emergencies. She showed a genuine interest in our children and all of their activities both at the mission station and while they were away at boarding school. In the words of our son Ken, ‘Linda will be missed. So many fond memories. Thanking God for the hope we have ….’ To know our family shares with Linda the hope of life in Christ now and for eternity is a blessing beyond measure.”
Former Africa Area Director Henry Church writes, “Linda was an unusual woman. Strong, independent, determined, loyal, sometimes stubborn – which fits her determination. She had characteristics that made her a great missionary because with all of these strengths of character, she also loved the people. Sometimes we wondered if she was Congolese. Their needs were always put ahead of her own. She represented their viewpoint wherever she went. She went the extra mile and miles time and again, to help the church meet its needs. She was totally unselfish in her passion to see the Church in Congo prosper.
“I had opportunity to work with Linda as her area director for a few years. She was straightforward in her speech. You always knew where she stood, but she communicated that in ways that were not belligerent or bossy. We became fast friends and had great times talking, strategizing, praying, laughing and even ‘eating frites’ together down near the lake. She was never too busy to respond to my questions or to do what she was asked. She was loved by all who knew her in Canada and the U.S. as she told the tales of God at work in Congo. The love was real and mutual.
“I will miss Linda. Her sense of humor, her bright smile, and her calm trusting in the faithfulness of God. She will have a warm welcome in heaven!”
Rev. Linda Adams writes, “My first major challenge in my new role as director of International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) was to work with Linda to solve some big problems in our program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Linda was serving as national coordinator for ICCM and had come to the conclusion that our sponsorship program was causing unintended harm to the church. Linda was passionate about the church – its holiness, its spiritual passion, and the way it pleases or doesn’t please the Lord. So, whatever it took to stop harming the church, that’s what we had to do.
“While transitioning ICCM DRC to a new form of support, I watched Linda carry on a very time-consuming and meticulous process of making things right with every sponsored child. She loved her team. She led them with a tender conscience and strong devotion to truth-telling. She helped us to wrap up that phase of our work there with a clear conscience.
“Each time I visited her in the Congo, I loved seeing her interact with friends, neighbors, staff and church members. When we ate out in the little local restaurant, everyone knew her. Even the border guard knew her well enough to change his mind and let my daughter and me into the country at 5:05 p.m., five minutes after closing time. She had some clout!
“We celebrated the name we share. The name ‘Linda’ has served her well in a country of Swahili-speakers, who hear in it the root word for ‘trustworthy guide.’ And, as the Boggle-letter necklace she always wore proclaimed, ‘Mungu Analinda Linda,’ ‘God watches over Linda.’ It was a great reminder for both of us, and banished fear. Even in these final days, she never doubted that her Lord was watching over her. Today, our comfort is to know that His perfect care will never end.”
Free Methodist World Missions Africa Area Director Mike Reynen writes, “One of the remarkable things about Linda Stryker was how she took the people of Congo to herself, as her own people. I saw it as the way Africans generally regard someone from their own tribe. She loved them. Out of this love she served diligently to insure the Christian medical ministry of Nundu continued, as uninterrupted as possible. She knew the needs of that hospital and worked long hours and behind the scenes to help it succeed. Of course, she also spent countless hours in ICCM work, bumpy roads and all. Who can say how many children received an education, or have been able to be in a good quality Sunday school because of her ICCM work? Then again, if you knew Linda’s attention to detail, she just might be able to say! She was a dear friend not only to many of us, but fellow missionaries of many missions. We miss her and appreciate her investment of her life – truly a person totally sold out for the Lord.”
Free Methodist Bishop David Kendall writes, “Linda May Stryker loved her Lord and the peoples of The Democratic Republic of Congo, whom she faithfully served. I did not have the privilege of working with Linda during her distinguished missionary work in the DRC and Central Africa but over the last three years I have observed and felt the huge impact of her ministry. When a crisis developed in the church there, her knowledge of the leaders, the history of the church, and the cultural dynamics within the church and society of the DRC contributed immeasurably to the resolution of conflict and the restoration of the church to good governance and fruitfulness. During this time of crisis, I noted especially Linda’s hesitancy to say anything critical or negative about anyone, and her eagerness to express words of grace. At the same time, when the well-being of the church and its mission were at stake, she stood for the truth and expressed it with gracious resolve. She gave untiringly of her time and energy to assist all efforts to restore the church to stability and peace. Virtually everyone in the DRC church knows and loves Linda. With her passing they will feel a deep sense of loss. They will bless her name and memory for generations to come, and will bless the Lord for having sent her to them.”
In February 1981, Linda completed her application for missionary service with the Free Methodist General Missionary Board. In her life sketch, she wrote that her testimony was from Philippians 3:13b-14, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
On May 21, 2017, Linda Stryker went to be with Jesus. Linda has won the prize for which God has called her heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Rev. Gerry Coates
Director of Global Church Advocacy
Free Methodist World Missions