Luelf shared her life with others

By JENELLE JOHNSON
Family Living Editor

Helen Luelf

Helen Luelf may be small in stature, but the 90-year-old’s memories as a missionary are as vast as the heavens themselves.
Luelf served from 1946 to 1988 in the West Indies on the islands of Barbados and Grenada.
Luelf is a resident of Windsor Place, the aunt of Cecelia Douglas of Iola.

THE SEVENTH of 14 children, Luelf was born in Bellflower, Mo. Though she wanted to continue her education she had to quit school after the eighth grade to help on the family farm.
When Luelf was 18 she moved to Troy, Mo., about 20 miles from her home to work in a garment factory.
While in Troy she helped with a Bible Holiness Church camp meeting. That experience helped seal her desire to attend God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio, a school her cousin Wesley Duewell, who was a missionary, had attended.
“I was afraid my father wouldn’t let me go because he thought the school was ‘too worldly’ for me,” she said.
At first her attempts to enroll were rejected due to lack of funds. Not one to give up on her dream, she worked for the school in its laundry and also for an elderly woman to earn money for her board and keep.
“I prayed God would provide for me,” she said.
The woman she worked for turned out to be an angel herself, paying Luelf’s tuition to the school. She finished in three years and was graduated as valedictorian.

IN 1945, she returned to Troy to help her sister with her children.
Luelf’s sanctuary on the farm was the barn, where she went to pray that she spend her life as a missionary. Her main concern was to overcome her shyness which was a hindrance to her ability to speak in public.
At a camp meeting in Independence was a call for two missionaries to go to Barbados. Luelf’s wish was to be able to answer that call.
She and a Zola Mae Rich of Oklahoma were selected to serve on the island. The two women spent five years pastoring churches for Pilgrim Holiness Church.
From there they went to the island of Grenada eventually working through Bible Holiness Church.
Luelf and Rich began their church services in fields, old buildings — anywhere people could congregate, she said. The two women found a house on the beach and through the generosity of friends and family in Troy and Barbados, they were able to live comfortably.
Grenada was predominately Catholic but the islanders flocked to hear the missionaries, she said.
“I think when you preach from the Bible it transcends religious affiliations,” Luelf said.
The meetings also were lively, with Luelf playing the accordion and Rich the guitar.
Each Sunday the two women provided five church services and three Sunday schools. During their years in Grenada they helped establish 11 churches and a school. After 36 years in Grenada the women retired.
They bought a home in Independence, only to be called again to share their faith, this time in San Bernardino, Calif., where they worked for 12 years before returning to Independence in 2003.
In 2004, Rich became ill during the night and died within a few days.
Luelf remained in their home until 2008 when health problems necessitated her move to Iola to be near family.
Luelf continues to share her love for God by helping lead church services at Windsor Place.