New Tribes Mission - planting tribal churches



"Our Love Story" - Entire Story




"Our Love Story" Main Page



"Our Love Story"

The Story of John & Linda McGhee

Missionaries with New Tribes Mission



  1. "I Am My Beloved's"
  2. Steps Along the Way—John
  3. Steps Along the Way—Linda
  4. A Challenge and a Step of Faith—Linda
  5. A Challenge and a Step of Faith—John
  6. The Crossing of Paths
  7. To the "Regions Beyond"
  8. Indonesia—John
  9. Venezuela—Linda
  10. Deep waters—John
  11. "Till Death Us Do Part"—Linda
  12. "Till Death Us Do Part"—John
  13. The Healing of Hearts—John
  14. The Healing of Hearts—Linda
  15. Happy Days Ahead!
  16. First Date
  17. Wedding Bells
  18. An Unforgettable Honeymoon!
  19. One Family, One Purpose
  20. A New Ministry
  21. Together, Their Journey Continues



Chapter 1 - "I Am My Beloved's"

(Back to Top)


"I love you."  John and Linda spoke those three little words to one another, for the very first time, on June 9, 1982.  The Lord had been preparing them for this moment and He had special plans for their lives that would unfold before them in days and years to come.


Every true Christian Love Story that is worth telling has a unique history that goes far back beyond the time when two people first meet and fall in love.   An infinite number of circumstances, some big, some small, and most, only known to an all-knowing God, must fall into place before they fall in love.


This is a Love Story about John and Linda McGhee.  However, it is far more than just their Love Story; it is the story of how they became laborers together, with God, in the ministry that God had prepared for them.  (I Corinthians 3:9)  Their greatest "bond" is their love for Jesus and serving Him.  Their desire, Dear Reader, is that the focus of their story be on God; that He can use anyone who is willing to "step out in faith" and follow Him.  The Bible declares, "A threefold cord is not quickly broken."  (Ecclesiastes 3:12)  God has bound John and Linda to Himself with cords of love.  "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love."  (Hosea 11:4)  To God be the Glory, for the great things that He has done.





"The steps of a (good) man are ordered by the Lord:

and he delighteth in his way."

Psalm 37:23


Chapter 2 - Steps Along the Way—John

(Back to Top)


John McGhee was the first and only child of Charles and his wife, Irene.  Charlie and Irene farmed the rich soil in Dufferin County, just north of the small town of Shelburne in Ontario, Canada.   John attended a one-room schoolhouse that had eight grades and one teacher,  Mrs. McClain.  In fact, John's father and grandfather had both attended this very same school.


Much to the surprise of "Johnny," as he was called at that time, his dad, at the age of 42, sold the farm in 1956, and moved his family to Toronto.  There his dad attended Teachers College and, a year later, became a schoolteacher.  That is how Johnny, the little 9 year old "country boy" moved to the "big city" of Toronto.


Childhood innocence gave way to the teenage years in the turbulent 1960's, when names such as the Beatles, Vietnam, hippies, and radicals became household words.  At that time, John was not a Christian, although unknown to him, God was faithfully working in his heart to bring him to Himself.


It was during John's first job at the County Registry Office, in downtown Toronto, that he became aware, really aware, that he was a sinner and in need of the Savior.  Uwe Gustafson began working in his office and over the next few months befriended him.  Uwe and his wife were heading to India as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  Through Uwe's faithful witness, John realized that he was a sinner before a righteous God and put his personal trust in the finished work of salvation that Jesus had accomplished for him on the Cross of Calvary.  The day was April 15, 1967.  Life changed forever for John on that eventful day. The Lord had plans for him that he never would have imagined.


That very same year, John went to Central Baptist Seminary for Bible training.  After seminary, he worked for Bell Canada for three years.  It was during his time at "Ma Bell" that he married Lynn Betteridge in 1970.





Chapter 3 - Steps Along the Way—Linda

(Back to Top)


Linda was born to Ralph and his wife, Gertrude, in Chicago, Illinois.  Linda was the third daughter.  She was followed by two younger brothers.  Linda was raised in a loving, Christian home where she was taught from the Word of God and by her parents' Godly example.  Linda attended The North Side Gospel Center, a church where the Gospel of Grace was taught by her pastor, Lance (Doc) Latham.  Doc and his wife, Virginia (affectionately called Teach), worked with youth all through their lives.  The Lathams and Art Rorheim, who became the director and a co-founder, began the AWANA Clubs in the basement of the Center.  Linda attended AWANA Clubs and Camp AWANA all of her growing-up years.  She eventually earned the very special Citation Award for completing the entire AWANA program.  Linda became an AWANA Club leader and a girl's leader at Camp AWANA.  She began studying the piano at the age of four and became an accomplished pianist.  She also sang in the choir and in various other singing groups.


You couldn't attend The North Side Gospel Center and not be challenged by Missions.  Sending missionaries to the "Regions Beyond" was at the very heart and "soul" of the Center.


After graduating from high school, Linda began attending Moody Bible Institute Evening School.  She also continued her piano training and lessons through Eleanor (Sally) Sherry.  During the same years of her schooling and working in a suburb, west of Chicago, she continued to be an AWANA leader at the North Side Gospel Center, and every summer she took at least two weeks off from work to be a leader up at Camp Awana.  All this time, she worked at the Bankers Box Company (now called Fellowes Manufacturing) for 8-1/2 years.  She eventually became the head accountant/auditor for the entire company.  One day her boss asked her an interesting question after she had witnessed to him for the umpteenth time.  "Linda, are you trying to tell me about how to get saved, again?!" he asked.  Another time, an unsaved co-worker who was attending a Bible study at Linda's home, asked her, "Why don't you become one of of those people who go overseas to tell people about this?"  That girl was saved a short time later at the Bible class!


During the summer of 1973, Linda was a Lodge Leader for high school girls up at Camp Awana, and that particular time, Teach was teaching a Bible Class which leaders could attend if they had time.  Every time that Teach taught from the Word of God, she seemed to be speaking directly to her.  Virginia quoted Scriptures like Romans 12:1,2, and said that God doesn't want your money or your talents, He wants you!  That was the part about giving your life, "a living sacrifice."  Linda began thinking more seriously about how the Lord wanted to use her life - really for what purpose was she here!  Another special speaker that summer at Camp Awana was Mel Wyma, a veteran missionary with New Tribes Mission.  He had told the group of girls at Camp Awana, "You cannot do too much for the Lord."  It was just as if Mel was speaking to Linda personally.  She began to pray about serving the Lord as a full-time missionary,  and kept finding verses about "going."  So one day, she even asked her Mother if she could go just according to the Word.  Linda's Mom was excited as she replied that "Of course, you can!"  In fact, that's the only way to know for sure what the Lord really wants you to do.  Linda's parents have always been supportive of her going into missionary work.  What a blessing to have Christian parents who are behind you!


Before the time that the Lord was speaking to her heart about missions, a young man by the name of Tom Christensen began dating Linda. Through time, their relationship began to blossom.  It was during that time that Linda was definitely challenged to become a missionary with New Tribes Mission.  Tom wanted to ask Linda to marry him, but could not find the words and, before he knew it, Linda was on her way to the NTM training.





Chapter 4 - A Challenge and a Step of Faith—Linda

(Back to Top)


"I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me."

Isaiah 6:8


Challenged by the Lord to become a missionary, Linda left her wonderful job in Chicago to enter the New Tribes Mission's Jersey Shore "Boot Camp," located in the heart of Pennsylvania.  The year was February 1974.  The next semester, Tom Christensen was also challenged by the Lord to become a missionary and, he too, began his training at Jersey Shore.  He entered the training, not because of Linda, but because the Lord had really spoken to his heart about missions.  Tom and Linda were married several months later and continued on with their NTM training, as husband and wife.





Chapter 5 - A Challenge and a Step of Faith—John

(Back to Top)


In 1973, John and Lynn McGhee were living and working in Toronto.  The previous year they had bought a pioneer log cabin, on 23 areas of land that had a little trout stream running through it.  They would drive the 75 miles to the cabin each Friday and return to Toronto Sunday evening.  Things appeared to be going well for John and Lynn.  However, the land and the log cabin soon became the most important part of their lives. That is, until God challenged them with a question:


 "Are you really satisfied with living your life only for a pioneer log cabin on 23 acres of land, with a trout stream?"


The Lord used this question to speak to both of their hearts and they had to answer honestly, "No, Lord, this won't bring us real satisfaction.  What do You want us to do, Lord?"


Soon, the log cabin and land went up for sale.  It sold within a week.  Through the sale of their log cabin and land, the Lord brought them into contact with a Christian mission organization called New Tribes Mission.  The Canadian NTM Headquarters and Training Center was located just a few miles from their cabin.  Just after their cabin sold, John and Lynn stopped by the NTM Headquarters to ask if anyone could use some of their old furniture and garden tools. They came away with a handful of literature and a challenge from the Lord that there was work for them to do on the foreign mission field.  Never before had they heard that there were still tribal people who had never once heard the Name of Jesus.  These were people who had unwritten languages and, therefore, they didn't have the Bible in their own mother tongue.  They were lost for all eternity, with no one to show them the Way.


John and Lynn entered into the training with New Tribes Mission in February 1974, in Canada, the same exact time that Linda had begun her NTM training at Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.





Chapter 6 - The Crossing of Paths

(Back to Top)


"I am the Lord thy God which...leadeth thee

by the way that thou shouldest go."

Isaiah 48:17



In the summer of 1975, both the McGhees and the Christensens were asked by their respective Mission's leaders to move to Durant, Mississippi, to help with the refurbishing of a new training campus.  It was there that their paths crossed for the first time as families, living side by side in little one-room cabins on the top of a hill. The McGhees and the Christensens shared times of fellowship with one another over glasses of Kool-Aid and bowls of popcorn.


Linda got to know her new neighbor, Lynn, who spent most of her days in bed due to morning sickness from their first child, who was due the following February.


John got to know Tom a little, while working on the refurbishing of the main building.  John's job was to help shore-up the foundation of the old Civil War-era building, while Tom worked as an electrician in the rooms above.  Life was extremely difficult for each family at Durant because of the long workdays and hot climate, not to mention the bugs or bug bites!


After six weeks, both couples moved on to the Mission's Language School, located a few miles from Camdenton, Missouri.  Life became very busy as each family settled into the routine of classes in the morning, work detail all afternoon and then long hours of study each evening.  John and Lynn studied Indonesian and a variety of other subjects while Linda and Tom studied Spanish and linguistics, as well as many other subjects.


Sarah was born in February, 1976.  Linda and Tom visited the McGhees and their new baby.  That summer, the McGhees finished their formal NTM training and left for Canada to begin their preparations to go to Indonesia, the country where the Lord had challenged them to go.


The Christensens stayed on for another semester for more linguistic study.  They were challenged by the Lord to go first to Mexico, but at the request of Mission leadership, this was changed to Venezuela.


Before leaving Language School, Lynn asked Linda if she would like to keep in touch by letters. Linda readily agreed to this and, thus, they were able to continue their friendship as families, as they both headed to opposite sides of the world.  Linda held 4-month-old Sarah in her arms, as she and Lynn said goodbye to one another.





Chapter 7 - To "The Regions Beyond"

(Back to Top)


"And He said, Go, and tell this people..."

Isaiah 6:9


It was January 1978, when John, Lynn and Sarah, who was almost two years old, arrived in Indonesia.


The Christensens with their one year old baby, Timmy, arrived in Venezuela in July, 1978.


Both families had left for the foreign mission field, in obedience to the Lord's command, found in Matthew 28: 19-20:


"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."


To each family, God's command to "Go" was something personal, as well as urgent.  God had clearly shown them that tribal people were living and dying without once hearing the name of Jesus.  God's Word tell us: "Neither is there salvation in any other (Jesus); for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."  (Acts 4:12)


Each family earnestly desired to be part of the team of those taking the wonderful Good News of the Gospel to unreached tribes around the world.  That is not to say that both families found it easy to leave their families and friends and to move to a foreign country as career missionaries.  However, they trusted in their Heavenly Father words, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."  (Hebrews 13:5) and so, step by step, they had prepared themselves to go to the foreign mission field.





Chapter 8 - Indonesia—John

(Back to Top)


The McGhees arrived in the city of Pontianak, Indonesia, in early January, 1978.  Pontianak is located right on the equator, along the west coast of Kalimantan (formerly called Borneo).  John and Lynn immediately began studying the Indonesian language and culture.  Language acquisition was not easy for them but they continued to "plod on" each day.  They had to study by themselves, with only the help of an Indonesian teacher who came to their house for just an hour or two each week.  Sarah had her second birthday that February.


Several months into language study, the McGhees visited the Embaloh tribal people, who live in the dense jungles of Kalimantan.  This was John and Lynn's first visit to an actual tribe.  The Embaloh people were former headhunters and lived in enormous communal longhouses.  Several Embaloh people had put their trust in Jesus as their Savior.  It was thrilling for John and Lynn to attend a church service, sitting on the bamboo floor on the front porch of the longhouse.  They sang familiar sounding hymns that had been translated into the Embaloh language.  The words were written phonetically so they could follow along while singing.


A day after returning to Pontianak, Sarah became deathly ill and was diagnosed as having amoebic dysentery.  An emergency flight was called and an MAF pilot flew the family to the Baptist Hospital in a town north of Pontianak.  She was very close to death when she was admitted to the hospital.  John and Lynn watched helplessly as a little Indonesian boy died of dysentery in the bed right next to Sarah's.  She remained critically sick for almost a week.  It was only by God's grace and the doctor and nurses' loving care that she was brought back from the brink of death.


Back in Pontianak, language study continued for an entire year before the McGhee family moved to the Island of Sulawesi.  There they were to continue their language study and begin to make plans to work in a tribal location.  They were greatly encouraged as they looked forward to finally moving into a tribe.





Chapter 9 - Venezuela—Linda

(Back to Top)


After arriving in Venezuela, the Christensens spent much of their time studying Spanish and the Venezuelan culture.  Timmy had his first birthday celebration before their arrival.  Life was busy for them, but it was also exciting to have finally arrived on the foreign mission field after so many years of formal training.  Tom was able to spend a lot of time in town, practicing his Spanish with the local shopkeepers and the many new friends that he was making.  His study time each day seemed to go by quickly.  However, Linda, was required to study 8 hours a day as well, while caring for an active baby/toddler at her side.  Tom and Linda had agreed only to speak Spanish in their home, even before going to Venezuela, so many of Timmy's first words were uttered in Spanish.


Just three weeks on the field, Linda came down with a severe case of dysentery, which immediately sent her to the local hospital.  Her hospital room was quite a shock as the cucarachas (cockroaches) raced up and down the walls each night.  After spending three days and nights in the hospital, she knew to be more careful about what she ate from the local market, and did not want foods which were handled by storekeepers' unwashed hands.


Tom and Linda were on the field for only 8 months when a telephone call from Linda's parents in Chicago began a sequence of life-changing events.


Linda's youngest brother had suddenly died.  What a shock!  They were delayed in flying back home for the funeral because of Holy Week (Easter), but eventually were able to get to Chicago.  Sadly, they missed Danny's funeral by just one day.  Her sadness at not seeing him again on this earth was great.  However, the Christensens did get to see most of Tom's family and Linda's family, besides the privilege of being at the North Side Gospel Center for a service.


Back in Venezuela, they once again resumed their Spanish study.  They were excited that that their formal Spanish study was now almost completed and they were eagerly making plans to begin their ministry with the Piaroa Indians.


As part of his language study, Tom was required to work at a local bodega (little store) for a week.  His job was to haul 100 lb bags of rice, flour, etc. all day long.  After two days of this, Tom was so exhausted that Linda suggested that they swap jobs.  "They can't make me carry such heavy loads," she told Tom.  Little did she know that within a few hours, something would happen that would change their lives forever.





Chapter 10 - Deep Waters—John

(Back to Top)


"Help me, O Lord my God;

Oh, save me according to thy mercy."

Psalm 109:26


Six weeks after moving to the Island of Sulawesi, the Mission's monthly voucher somehow failed to make it to Indonesia and John and Lynn were literally down to the equivalent of one US cent, which was all of the money they had in the world.  It was at that time that Lynn was encouraged by another missionary lady to go to a doctor to have a lump checked in her breast.  The doctor's voice was very serious as he told her that she needed to seek medical help immediately.  Someone lent the McGhees just enough money to purchase plane tickets to fly to the city of Surabaya, on the Island of Java.  Two days after they arrived, Lynn was admitted to the Salvation Army Hospital.  A six-hour operation revealed that she had advanced breast cancer.  This was probably the longest six hours in John's life, as he waited alone in the waiting room during Lynn's operation.  Afterward, questions flooded their minds: "What will we do now?"  "Why did God allow this to happen when we were right on the very brink of moving into a tribal ministry?"


Sarah had just turned three the day before her Mommy's operation and she was too young to understand what was really happening.  After a month at the hospital, Lynn, John, and Sarah were on the long, lonely flight back to London, England, Lynn's homeland.  The Lord had provided their airfare through John's parents, who had kindly wired them enough money for their tickets.  Leaving the mission field so suddenly, with a very sick wife and their little girl, was the most difficult thing that John had ever faced in his entire life, up until that time.  But for God...





Chapter 11 - "Till Death Us Do Part."—Linda

(Back to Top)


"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

Psalm 116:15


The evening was uneventful that Tom and Linda had made the decision that Tom was not going to work at the bodega (little store) as part of his language study and that Linda was going to take his place.  Tom was so exhausted from lifting 100 lb bags for the last two days that they retired to bed early.  That night, about four in the morning, Linda awoke to the sound of a "death rattle" coming from her husband.  "Tom." "Tom!  What is the matter?" Tom did not respond to her.  She quickly ran for a neighbor, and together, they got Tom into a car and drove him to the local hospital.  Timmy stayed with a neighbor. Frantically, Linda prayed for Tom.  She did not know what was happening and she pleaded with her Heavenly Father to allow her husband to live.   She was allowed to be in the emergency room during the entire time and she could see how very sick Tom was.  He did not recognize her and he kept thrashing around and had to be restrained.  It was then that Linda prayed, "Lord, not my will, but Thine be done."  He had been taken to another room, but it was right at the moment of that prayer that Tom went Home to be with His Heavenly Father.  Later that day, an autopsy revealed that he had died of an aortic aneurysm and that his ruptured heart had been pumping blood into his chest cavity.  There was nothing that his doctors could have done for him.


Later that morning, Linda called her parents from the telephone office.  She was in a quandary as to what to do with Tom's body; whether to bury him there in Venezuela or bring him home to Chicago.  Someone never seen before by Linda came into the telephone office and began a conversation with her.  He said how sorry he was for what had happened, and that he was a missionary in another country, just visiting in Venezuela.  He asked Linda if he could help her in any way.  Linda shared with him that she did not know what to do about Tom's burial. He asked her what she would do if money were no problem.  Without hesitation, Linda told him that she would bring Tom's body back to America.  He told her to take Tom's body back, and that God would supply for her needs.  She now knew the answer to her question.  That was the only time she ever saw that man.  She was not even sure of his name or his mission.  It was as if an "angel" had helped her to make the decision, and she thanked her Heavenly Father for this answer to her prayer.


The next day, Linda and Timmy, who was just 23 months old, boarded a plane bound for America.  Timmy kept calling out for his Daddy, as the plane taxied down the runway and soon was heading for America.  Tom's body was flown back to Chicago for burial about a week later.


After arriving back in Chicago, Linda began to make funeral arrangements for Tom.  Tom's funeral was held at The North Side Gospel Center, the church where she had grown up.  Tom's uncle, Dr. Dave Breese, officiated at his service, which was held on a Saturday.  Hundreds of Tom and Linda's family members and friends came to the service.  Many tears were shed; as songs of joy and hope were sung and as each person attending his service was reminded of the blessed assurance Christians have, knowing that Tom was now with his Heavenly Father.  Only God knows how many lives Tom touched during his not quite 29 short years on this earth.


After Tom's funeral, Linda was often heard to say how thankful she was that they had obeyed the command of their Savior to "Go... and teach all nations...  (Matthew 28:19,20).   All of their missionary training, all of their preparations for the mission field, the heart wrenching moment when they had boarded the airplane for Venezuela, leaving their families and friends behind and then those few short months in language study; it was worth it all to have obeyed the Lord.


"Only one life, ‘twill soon be past.

Only what's done for Christ will last."


As Tom's casket was slowly lowered into the ground in May 1979, a new direction and challenge awaited Linda and her little boy, Timmy.





Chapter 12 - "Till Death Us Do Part"—John

(Back to Top)


"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee,

For I am the Lord thy God..."

Isaiah 43:2, 3


John, Lynn and Sarah were allowed to live in the large parsonage next door to Lynn's home church in London, England.  This was a wonderful provision of the Lord through her church family.  Lynn's parents lived only a few miles away and it was such a blessing to be able to visit so frequently.  The Lord provided them with some used furniture, various kitchen items, as well as an old, used car.


For the first few months back home, life for John and Lynn comprised mainly of trips back and forth to the London Hospital, where Lynn had a long series of radiation therapy.  This was followed by weeks of chemotherapy.  Radiation therapy made her weak.  Chemo made her very sick and soon her hair fell out.  The Lord provided her with a wig.  Sarah turned four and attended a local pre-school.  She looked very sweet in her little grey uniform with white blouse and white socks.


For John, the hardest burden to bear, besides having a very sick wife, was not being able to return to the mission field.  At times, he could "almost taste" not going back to Indonesia.  Tears of frustration would sometimes fill his eyes.  Several people advised him "Don't lose your visa.  Visas to Indonesia are very difficult to get."  This only added to the pressure of not returning to Indonesia.  However, most of their friends and family gently told him, "You need to think of Lynn and Sarah.  Don't worry about not being able to go back to Indonesia.  God is in control and He will take care of you and your family."


Several months after returning to England, a letter arrived from Linda Christensen, postmarked Chicago, USA.  The first paragraph said it all.  Tom had suddenly died in Venezuela of an aortic aneurysm.  Linda and Timmy were back in the USA.  John and Lynn cried tears of sorrow at this sad news.  Lord, why?  Why Tom and Linda?   Another family had been suddenly taken off the mission field and there was so much more work to be done. 


After two years of fighting breast cancer, Lynn's earthly fight was nearly over.  Cancer had spread to her lungs.  Her constant coughing became worse, even to the place where she actually cracked several ribs.  More chemo followed.  Her last days on earth were spent in the hospital, as she became weaker and weaker and her cough persisted.  On her final day, John kissed her goodbye.  She was, oh so tired and could hardly respond beyond a faint smile before slowly closing her eyes.


The following morning around 6:00 am, the telephone rang.  A nurse was on the line.  Lynn had passed away and they wanted John to come to the hospital later that day to pick up her belongings.  John asked the nurse why they had not called him sooner.  The nurse shared with him that Lynn had told her to let him sleep—that he would need the rest.  A little later that morning, John told little Sarah, as she sat quietly on his lap, that her Mommy had gone Home to be with Jesus...


Lynn's funeral service was a time of sadness as well as a time of much joy.  Her casket was slowly carried to the front of the church on the shoulders of men from her church family who had had a special part in her life, ever since she had first trusted in Jesus as her Savior, as a teenager.  The old hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul" was chosen by John for its words that expressed the blessed peace that we have as believers in Jesus.



When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well; it is well with my soul.


Lynn was just 33 years old when she went Home to be with her Savior.







Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.

Psalm 30:11



Chapter 13 - The Healing of Hearts—John

(Back to Top)


Even after Lynn's death, John's heart still yearned to go back to Indonesia.   However, this was impossible at that time, with such a young daughter to take care of.  He asked his Heavenly Father for guidance.  There were many choices before him, but one thing he knew was that he did not want to leave New Tribes Mission.  Having put his "hand to the plough", he wanted to continue in the ministry that God had called him to.


After a trip back to Canada to visit with Dad and Mom McGhee, the Lord wonderfully opened up the way for John to begin a new ministry at the Mission's Bible School, located in central England.   He rented a truck, they said goodbye to their friends in London and he and Sarah were on their way to a new home and ministry.  John build a bunk bed for himself and Sarah that just fit into their little 7' x 10' bedroom.  Sarah slept on the top bunk and John on the lower.  The living room was small but adequate and therefore did not require a lot of housework.  There were several children Sarah's age at the Bible School and together, they attended the local Elementary School in the little village of Matlock Bath.


John drove the children from the Mission to school in an old VW van.  He worked on a variety of other jobs, which kept him busy, but John was also allowed to be with Sarah when she returned home from school in the afternoon.





Chapter 14 - The Healing of Hearts—Linda

(Back to Top)


After Tom's death, Linda inquired about the possibility of her returning to Venezuela.  Her heart longed to be back on the mission field.  She was told by Mission leadership in Venezuela that it would be very difficult for her, with a young child, to be a missionary on the foreign mission field.  There was no child care on the field.  Linda was advised to look to the Lord for another ministry in New Tribes Mission, somewhere in the USA.  One decision that she came to was that she definitely wanted to continue serving with New Tribes Mission.


After spending several weeks in Chicago alone in her parents' home (they had just moved to northern Wisconsin), Linda was surprised by a telephone call from Macon Hare, Sr, an Executive member who was serving at the New Tribes Mission International Headquarters in Sanford, Florida.  Macon asked Linda if she would consider moving to Sanford to work on the typesetting of the Ayoré New Testament.  The Ayoré tribe was the very first tribe that NTM missionaries had gone to, back in 1942.  All five of the first missionaries were killed by the savage Ayoré Indians.  "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."  No words were truer, as literally thousands of missionaries have followed their example in the decades since their deaths, in taking the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to tribal people around the world.


Linda and Timmy moved to Sanford in the spring of 1980 where she began a new ministry of typesetting many tribal New Testaments.





Chapter 15 - Happy Days Ahead!

(Back to Top)


"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,

whose hope is in the Lord his God."

Psalm 146:5



John had written just a line or two on the back of his prayer letter to Linda after Lynn had passed away.


Now, over six months later, at the NTM Bible School, John decided to answer a little note and poem that Linda had sent him.  Dave Calderwood had a lot to do with John writing Linda and Linda writing back.  Dave and his wife, Ann, had been in England and had visited John, but lived at the Sanford Headquarters where they saw Linda frequently.


As John sat at his desk, he had perhaps 20 or 30 letters waiting to be answered.  However, his thoughts were about Linda Christensen.  Linda Christensen.  Hmmmmm...This time, John could hardly wait to write her again!


John mailed his letter to Linda.  He really hoped that she would answer him back.  Her reply to his letter arrived a few days later.


Little did they know, that was the beginning of their courtship, an ocean apart!


The Lord had wonderfully allowed their first notes to get to their destination safe and sound.  Imagine if John's note, hastily written on the back of his prayer letter, had never gotten to her?  Or imagine if Linda's little note and poem to John had been lost in the mail?  Or if John's letter back to her had been lost?  That would certainly have ended their courtship, even before it began.


John sent Linda a cassette tape recording of him and Sarah telling about themselves and a little about what it was like to live at the Bible School.  Linda reciprocated by sending him a tape of her playing the piano and a recording of her and Timmy singing a little song:


 "Oh Timmy, do you love Jesus?"

 "Oh yes, I love Jesus!"

"Are you sure you love Jesus?"

"I'm sure I love Jesus!"

"Oh Timmy, do you love Jesus?"

"Oh yes I love Jesus, because He first loved me."


"Oh Mommy, do you love Jesus?"

 "Oh yes, I love Jesus!"

"Are you sure you love Jesus?"

"I'm sure I love Jesus!"

"Oh Mommy, do you love Jesus?"

"Oh yes I love Jesus, because He first loved me."



"Oh how I love Jesus!"

"Oh how I love Jesus!"

"Oh how I love Jesus!"

"Because He first loved me."


Photos followed the first few letters.  John's first photo to Linda was of him locked in the "stocks," when he and Sarah had visited the old city of Leeds.  Linda liked his smile.  Linda then sent her first photo to John.  Linda's photo really looked great to him!  The photo was of her with Timmy resting his head on her shoulder.  And so, their letters literally flew back and forth to each other across the "duck pond."


Month followed month and soon it was January 1982.  Secretly, Linda had hoped that John would visit her during the spring break of 1982. However, John wanted to wait until Sarah had finished her school year before coming to America.  One thing was certain though; their "love" for each other was growing, despite the thousands of miles that separated them.  Although they never actually used the word "love" to one another in their letters, their affection grew week by week.


John made the decision sometime in February that he and Sarah were going to move to Sanford.  By that time, he longed to see Linda and Timmy.  Linda was excited to hear this news!  John asked her if he should sell his linens, towels, kitchen towels and dishrags.  Linda's answer was, "You do what you think is best."  She did not want to commit herself to anything, without them seeing each other in person. 


John began selling many of his things, including all of their furniture and most of their household items.  He packed everything that he could into three tea chests.  Everything else he would bring with them in suitcases.  The address on the tea chests and bill of lading simply read:  John H. McGhee, Port Authority, Jacksonville, Florida.  He planned to pick up the chests himself, once he had arrived in Sanford.  (The plan was if things didn't work out with John and Linda, John would move to Canada with his tea chests and suitcases!)


Before leaving England, Linda wrote him to ask what he would like to have for their first supper together.  He promptly wrote her back, "Hot dogs, please."  The only hot dogs that he had eaten in Indonesia and England were from a can!





Chapter 16 - First Date

(Back to Top)


"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine..."

Song of Solomon 6:3


June 7, 1982 was a Special Day—their first real "date" together.  John called Linda from Miami.  Their voices sounded wonderful to each other.  The flight from Miami to Orlando only took an hour or so, but it seemed like an eternity for both of them.  The moment had finally arrived...


Linda and Timmy met John and Sarah in Arrivals at the Orlando International Airport.  Both had secretly wondered to themselves what would happen when they first saw each other.  Would the person that they had written so many letters to, be as they had imagined?


Linda asked John if he would like to drive them back to Sanford.  John took one look at her Chevy Impala Station wagon and the long "bonnet" (hood) that seemed to stretch out forever and graciously declined being their chauffer that day.  All of the cars that he had driven for the past three years were of the mini-variety.  They held hands the entire trip back to Sanford, while Timmy and Sarah got acquainted in the back seat.  Both Linda and Timmy were amused at Sarah's English accent.  It sounded very prim and proper and very English.   John also used a sprinkling of English words in his vocabulary, but he didn't have an English accent.


A lovely dinner of hot dogs and freshly baked pecan pie awaited John and Sarah in Linda's comfortable apartment in the Mission's main building.  Linda, true to her promise, had prepared hot dogs for John.  His exact word after supper—"Delicious!"


Timmy had just celebrated his fifth birthday two days before John and Sarah arrived.  Linda arranged to take time off her work of transcribing the Chronological Lessons from Trevor McIlwain's tape recordings.  John and Linda and each of their children were then able to spend quality time getting to know one another.  It was apparent, right from the beginning, that Timmy and Sarah enjoyed each other's company.  Sarah was just 16 months older than Timmy was, an ideal age for a playmate (and a new brother?).





Chapter 17 - Wedding Bells

(Back to Top)


"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,

and obtaineth favor from the Lord."

Proverbs 18:22


Three days after arriving in Sanford, John asked Linda if she would marry him.  Her answer, after a short pause and a twinkle in her eyes, was "Yes."


Never in their letters had John and Linda used the words, "I love you."   Their letters were tender and "loving," but neither of them never wanted to presume that they were actually "in love," without seeing each another in person.  Now the words, "I love you" could be expressed.  Timmy and Sarah were ever so excited that they were going to have a new Daddy and Mommy.  Timmy began calling John, "Daddy" in public, even before it was officially announced that they were engaged!  Sarah did the same for Linda, her soon-to-be Mommy.  Timmy had prayed for a Daddy for a long time and now his prayers were going to be answered.


After their engagement was announced, the decision was made by the Mission's leadership that John could work in the Typesetting Department, the same department where Linda worked on the typesetting of tribal New Testaments.  John would begin learning how to typeset the Mission's many publications and eventually he was to take the place of another missionary who would soon be leaving.  John was to begin his training after their wedding and honeymoon.


Isn't the Lord good?!  Imagine the joy that John and Linda had, not only to be married but also to continue together in the ministry that was so dear to both of their hearts.  Years before, they had "stepped out in faith" as two different families, to serve the Lord and now they would continue this "journey of faith" as a new family together, as husband and wife.


July 24, 1982, was John and Linda's Special Day.  John's Mom and Dad had flown down from Canada for the wedding.  Linda's Mom and Dad had flown from northern Wisconsin.  Linda's sister, Shirley, had flown over from Texas to be her bridesmaid.  Timmy was the ring bearer and looked very handsome in his new suit, as he proudly held the little white pillow with the two wedding rings on top.  Sarah was the flower girl and looked very pretty in her new dress, as she held a little white basket containing flower petals.  John was dressed in a brand new suit and looked very happy.  And Linda—what a radiant bride she made, in her lovely wedding gown and the bouquet that she held in her hands.


John and Linda's good friend and co-worker, Mel Wyma officiated the service and "tied the knot."  He and his wife, Connie, had baked and decorated the wedding cake.  Mel and Connie had learned how to bake and decorate wedding cakes during their ministry in the jungles of Bolivia while working among the Ayoré Indians.  The wedding took place at New Tribes Mission, in the Paul Fleming Chapel.  At that time, the chapel still did not have air conditioning.  Fans were strategically arranged about the room.  The sun shone brightly, without a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the high 90's.  A perfect day for a very Special Wedding!





Chapter 18 - An Unforgettable Honeymoon!

(Back to Top)


"My beloved spoke, and said unto me,

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away."

Song of Solomon 2:10


John and Linda flew to Toronto, Canada for their honeymoon.  Sarah and Timmy rode back to Wisconsin with Grandpa and Grandma in John and Linda's car.  Mom and Dad McGhee stayed several extra days in Florida in order to give the newlyweds time together at their home in Canada.


The first few days of their honeymoon were spent in complete bliss.  After a day or two at John's parents' home, they drove to Algonquin Park, in northern Ontario and then east to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.  They walked arm in arm along the Rideau Canal and ate in quaint little restaurants in downtown historical Ottawa.  They visited various places of interest along the St. Lawrence River on their way back to Toronto.


All too soon, it was time to fly to Wisconsin, to pick up Timmy and Sarah, before driving back to Florida.


John gave the US Immigration officer his passport.  His heart began to beat faster after the US Immigrations officer asked him where he was a resident. (He never did like going through Immigration when traveling overseas.)  He replied, "Ontario."


"How long ago has it been since you last lived in Ontario?"  The officer asked.


John thought for a few moments.  "Around five years, sir."


"Then you are not a resident of Ontario, Mr. McGhee, are you?"


That is when John began to stutter and the more that he said the more the Immigrations officer was convinced that he should not let him cross the border into the United States of America.


"Sir, your wife is free to enter the United States.  However, you will have to stay in Canada because you do not have a proper visa for living in the USA."


Linda quickly spoke up and informed the Immigration's officer that she was not about to leave her husband in Canada!  The glint in her eyes and her firm voice said it all.  She would stay with John!  However, by that time, all of their suitcases were already on their way to Wisconsin.


Thus, John and Linda's blissful honeymoon quickly turned "south!"  They would have to stay in Canada.


The following nine days were filled with high tension.  The US Consulate informed John that he would have to apply for a US visa in order to obtain his "Green Card".  "How long would that take?" he asked.


"At least 6 months, Mr. McGhee" he was told.


John found out from the US Consulate that he needed both of their original birth certificates, their marriage certificate, their former spouses' death certificates and former marriage certificates, and several other important documents.  Of course, they did not have any of these documents on their honeymoon!


They asked their friend, Gideon Bader, to go through their personal paperwork in Linda's bedroom closet, back in Sanford.  The paperwork was then Overnight mailed to them in Toronto, and thus began the process of applying for John's US visa.


John also needed a chest x-ray, a physical, visa application photos and several Canadian references.  Advice was freely given by many people, which included crashing the border.  This was too risky, and besides, it was against the law.  They even began making plans to live at the NTM Canadian Headquarters in Durham, Ontario.  Much prayer went up to the Heavenly Father on their behalf.


Linda's Mom and Dad contacted their US Senator.  John contacted his Canadian Member of Parliament in Ottawa.


John submitted all of his paperwork to the US Embassy.  Each day seemed to crawl by.  Then nine days after John had been refused entry to the USA, he went in for one more interview at the US Consulate.  This interview resulted in some encouragement.  He was told that perhaps if he went to the airport right away and talked with the Immigration Supervisor, something might be done to help them.  They rushed home, and hastily packed their bags and were off to the airport.  This time John's plea to the Immigration officer went much better.


"Promise me that you will not return to Canada until you are called by the US Consulate in Toronto for your final interview, Mr. McGhee, which may be quite a few months from now." to the ears!


"Yes, sir, I promise!"


"And one more thing, Mr. McGhee, you cannot work while you are in the USA."


John promised, and he and Linda gave each other a great big hug.


The flight to Wisconsin went well and they were soon happily reunited with Timmy and Sarah.  The next few days were happily spent visiting with family and friends.  John met Linda's oldest sister and her brother for the first time. The return trip to Sanford was a happy time.  How thankful they were to their Heavenly Father for allowing John to live in America while his visa application was being processed.





Chapter 19 - One Family, One Purpose

(Back to Top)


"For we are laborers together with God..."

I Corinthians 3:9


John began his training, as a volunteer, in the Typesetting Department.  Linda worked by his side, as she began to typeset more New Testaments.


It was not until January of 1983, that John received word from the US Consulate that he was requested to come to Toronto for his final interview.  John and Linda arrived on January 17, 1983, a bitter winter day, with the temperatures in the single digits.  The interview went well for John and he was told that his precious "Green Card" would soon be sent to him in Florida.  He could now officially live and work in America.  God was so good!


John adopted Timmy and Linda adopted Sarah, soon after their marriage.  Timmy's name was officially changed to Timothy Thomas Christensen McGhee.  Even their birth certificates were changed to reflect their adoptive parent's names.


Jeffrey John McGhee was born in 1984.  Timmy and Sarah were very excited and happy about having a little baby brother.  Then eighteen months later, the Lord blessed them with their fourth child, David Daniel McGhee.  John and Linda's family was now complete and they rejoiced in the Lord's blessings and wonderful provision of four healthy children.


As their family grew, the Lord provided them with a larger apartment, just down the hall.  By the time Jeffrey was born, the Lord had already blended their lives firmly together as one family.  It made them chuckle inside when people would comment how much Sarah looked like Linda or how much Timmy looked like John.


Several years after they were married, one of the Mission's leaders and his wife went to a marriage seminar.  They were asked to write down the name of a family whom they most admired as being a happily married couple. They wrote down "John and Linda McGhee" and later shared this with John.  This was both humbling and encouraging to John and Linda, and they gave praise to their Heavenly Father for allowing them to have such a happy marriage, as they served Him together.


Over the years, John and Linda continued to serve at the Mission's International Headquarters.  Several times, they expressed to the Mission leadership their desire to change ministries and to go back to the foreign mission field.  Each time they were told that they were really needed in their ministry at Headquarters.  At least three of the Executive Committee's wives shared with Linda that not just anyone can minister, year after year at Headquarters. She was told by each woman that they felt that the McGhees were well suited in their ministry and that they needed to remain content where God had placed them!





Chapter 20 - A New Ministry

(Back to Top)


"Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go."

Isaiah 48:17


In 1992 Linda was asked to change ministries to the NTM Medical Plan's office.  At that time, John also changed ministries and began working in the Mission's Finance Office.  This was perhaps the most difficult year for them as a couple, because, for the first time in their marriage, they were separated from one another at work each day. They earnestly prayed that they could once again be allowed to work in the same office and one year later, the Lord graciously answered their prayers.  John was asked to take over the administration of the NTM Medical Plan.  It was wonderful to be able to work together in the same office again.


Linda was John's patient teacher in the Medical Plan office and soon he was handling many of the daily tasks himself.  Both John and Linda have often heard to say; "We love working together!  There's nothing better then being able to work with your best friend in a ministry for the Lord that you both love and enjoy."





Chapter 21 - Together, Their Journey Continues

(Back to Top)


"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned."

Song of Solomon 8:7


John and Linda have now been married since July 24, 1982.  They have never been more excited or encouraged in the ministry that God has given to them.   As laborers together, with God, they serve in the ministry of planting tribal churches in the Regions Beyond, by ministering at the New Tribes Mission International Headquarters.


Ask John and Linda about their ministry, and they will quickly tell you that they really enjoy serving in the Medical Plan office.  The NTM Medical Plan is completely self-funded and, therefore, is owned and operated by New Tribes Mission.  The purpose of the NTM Medical Plan is to insure that catastrophic medical bills do not become the financial responsibility of a missionary and those who support them financiallyAn NTM missionary should not have to leave their field of service because of high medical debts.  Besides administrating the Medical Plan, John and Linda are also responsible for taking care of the NTM Life Insurance Plan and the NTM Medical Emergency Evacuation Plan.  John and Linda love their daily contact with their fellow missionaries and the opportunity to help them.  It is especially satisfying when they hear of missionaries who have had to return home because of a serious illness, heading back healthy, to their field of service on the foreign mission field.  Although they are not serving overseas themselves, they are a vital part of the Team who are taking the Gospel to tribal people around the world.


Each of John and Linda's four children are now grown and are walking with the Lord, for which they are very thankful.  Truly children are a wonderful "heritage from the Lord" (Psalm 127:3-5).


Isn't the Lord good!  He has allowed John and Linda to continue in their ministry, despite the Homegoing of their former spouses, and their having to leave the foreign mission fields.


Two separate families, each shattered by "tragedy," have miraculously become one.  John and Linda's "Love Story" is really the story of God's faithfulness to His children, in their "journey of faith."  May God be praised for what He has done and will continue to do, in and through their lives, to His glory.



"Our Love Story" Main Page

. . . . .

Copyright 2017
Web Site Host: The Mountaintop Group
· Web Site Design and Maintenance: David McGhee
Special Thanks to NTM Communications: base template and animated slide show