In honor of the Norwoods’ lifelong commitment to developing leaders for the South American church, South America Mission created the Norwood Scholarship Fund. Since 2010, the fund has provided ongoing resources to develop local and national leaders in Colombian churches.
Hunter and Edith Norwood needed a miracle to begin their first missionary term on the rugged north coast of Colombia. The year was 1942 and every American male of fighting age leaving the country required permission from the military—if by boat, as the Norwood’s would be traveling, from a Naval Intelligence Officer.
Understandably, Hunter Norwood’s heart sank when the Naval officer reviewing his passport at the Port of New Orleans asked for his Draft Board release certificate. He confessed that he did not have one. Hunter and Edith had applied for passports as soon as they were appointed to Colombia by what was then known as South America Indian Mission. The State Department had obliged, and the Naval officer in New Orleans followed suit. Edith recalls the officer saying, “If the State Department didn’t stop you, I won’t.”
As we often see in God’s economy, what seems like a small, almost trivial, miracle continues to pay dividends more than 70 years later.
Hunter and Edith spent 12 years in the Guajira, the harsh coastal desert of Colombia and another term in the heart of the rainforest in Peru. Along the way, carried by grace, they endured and thrived. Their letters home included harrowing tales: malaria, nuns throwing rocks at their daughters as they walked down the street, Hunter finding a loaded shotgun leveled at this chest and given an order to leave town immediately. But they also included joyful news of the mundane (fashioning cookie sheets out of spare five gallon gasoline cans) and the eternal (new churches, new converts and the impending arrivals of six daughters).
Hunter became the second General Director of South America Mission in 1958. He and Edith built on their years in front-line pioneering work with another 25 years of enabling and shepherding others. Even after his “retirement,” Hunter continued the faithful work of praying for many by name, even names from those first years, until the Lord called him home. His counsel, vision and direction shaped many leaders, South Americans and missionaries alike. Equally faithful, Edith continued tireless advocacy and prayer for the work of God in South America until her homegoing in the Spring of 2015.
The work Hunter and Edith did, planting churches and starting Bible institutes, is clearly visible today in the graduates, churches and thousands of believers who are their spiritual children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We are thankful for the partners and missionaries today who allow us to continue to grow their legacy to the glory of God.