Somewhere in the long ago, in a country home in Kentucky, I first saw the light of day. My childhood holds no point of interest to you who have asked for this sketch until I arrived at the age of twelve, at which age I became a Christian.
I think it was in the summer of that same year that a field organizer came to our country church, and to another church five miles from us, and talked on the work of the Woman's Board of Missions, announcing her desire to organize Missionary Societies.
Such things were quite new in our section, and I recall that her coming aroused quite considerable interest and wonderment. She organized a Ladies' Society in our church, and in the church five miles from us she organized a Children's Band, of which, by some strange course of events which I do not understand to this day, and at that time did not realize was unusual, I was made President, though a member of another church five miles away. The Leader of the Band was a very good woman in the church in which the Band was organized.
I was notified of the time set for the first meeting of the Band, and my mother sent my young brother, much to his dislike, with me to the meeting, and it was then I got my introduction to the work that was so greatly to absorb my thought and interest later in life. From the first I loved it. I do not know whether because I was President, or because it was so new and novel, or whether something of the real missionary spirit touched my heart. But this I do know--from that day to this a vibrant chord within me has answered always to the mention of the word missions. And out of this lasting influence from a very brief childhood experience has grown my profound conviction that childhood is the golden hour for planting the seed of missions, which, when rooted, and this is so easily done in the fresh, tender heart of the child, are rooted for a lifetime.
The little Band survived only that summer. Each time, once a month, sometimes on horseback, sometimes in a buggy, my mother made it possible for me to go, nor did the long ride through the heat and dust seem too much. When the cold weather came, the Band necessarily was discontinued, and our Leader did not call it together again when spring came. I suppose she thought a Band of six or eight children was not worth the effort. But I have always rejoiced at the seed-planting of those three or four meetings. They are bearing fruit in my life today.
Then followed a girlhood with happy school and college days, but in which were many hours of serious and rather frightened reflections, for I had a somewhat serious outlook on life in which God was a decided, though perhaps a rather vague, factor, or personality, or consideration. I did not feel just as free from Him as other girls seemed to be. Perhaps such feelings and reflections were superinduced by a dear old lady of our community who was often asking me what I was going to do with my life, assuring me always that the Lord wanted to use me, that I was resisting Him, and that He would hold me to account for the time I was wasting. Always at church and elsewhere I avoided contact with this dear old friend, lest she should tell me again that the "Lord was after me." But in spite of my efforts to the contrary, she found many opportunities. I think this had much to do with my early feeling that God was an every-present factor in my every-day life, decisions, and plans, and the feeling that I did not belong just to myself alone, and that God did want me to do SOMETHING. BUT WHAT? That was the question I was constantly asking myself.
During these years I was sometimes at Presbyterial meetings where the ladies held their business sessions and platform meetings. My going was mostly for the good time I would have as a young girl, for there was no link connecting me with the work of missions. Often I heard others complain that these programs were "dry and uninteresting," and that they "knew before they came just what would be done, and by whom," that "all the programs were just alike," etc. But I sat on the edge of my seat and fairly held my breath to still the loud beating of my heart, and lest I miss a word. Then, afterward, through long, wakeful hours of the night, I would rehearse again, over and over, all I had heard, and struggle with the thought that my life was an empty, useless thing, and of no avail to anyone. Why did not I also have something to do?--something that would count, as did those women!
I reveled in my college days. No girl was happier than I. I loved study; love the atmosphere of learning, culture and refinement; loved the interpretation of life and duty I found there; loved my teachers and their calling. I loved it all so well that I felt I had found my place, and determined I would fit myself to become a college teacher, and live always in that atmosphere. And with this end in view, I studied and labored through the delightful period of my college days, and into that channel my life might have gone, except that, all unwanted, love came a-knocking at the door of my heart, and, after a while, I became the adoring wife of an adoring husband.
Little young things we were, loving "not wisely, but too well," so much so that our pastors and friends, almost from the beginning, began to warn us against an idolatrous love. But more and more we forgot everything for each other. Sunday School, church, Christian duty, "others" were all forgot. And day by day, I rejoiced that at last I had gotten away from that ever-present, nagging question of what I would do with my life. That was answered now. I would spend it in devotion to my husband, of course. But our friends continued to warn us--so much so that we came at last to resent it as meddlesomeness.
Then one day my husband, who had never been ill in his life, came home sick of a fever, and in forty days, while I was yet a bride of eighteen months, I stood by the side of his open grave, broken-hearted and entombed--for it was literally that--by a midnight darkness that engulfed my very soul, for my bitter resentment toward God for the taking of my husband had separated me from my Christ. My heart was like lead, but more leaden was the sky above me and all of life, for, though I needed Him so, nowhere could I find my Lord. He had withdrawn Himself from me, for He will not dwell in the atmosphere of bitter antagonism.
Since then, now more than twenty-four years ago, I heard Gypsy Smith, the great evangelist, preach a sermon on "The Lost Christ." I knew when I heard that subject announced that I had felt its meaning. And as I sat under the spell of that great man's spiritual life as he preached that sermon, I knew that he also knew by experience what it means to be separated from God, or else he could not have written that sermon. Earth has no darkness so engulfing to the soul that has lived, even though imperfectly in the consciousness of a personal God, as that spiritual darkness which comes in the hour of His aloofness, and no anguish as deep and unrelenting as a great sorrow and a "lost Christ."
Health cannot hold up long under such suffering, and very soon my health began to give way. A few years passed, years of mental and spiritual suffering, and I was an invalid, totally blind and paralyzed from my hips down, with "no hope of recovery," (so said a number of physicians), daily expecting the welcome release of the death angel.
Well I remember one hot day in August, for in all my life there has been no day that has meant as much to me as that day. I had been blind and paralyzed since the previous May. My sister, the most loving and faithful nurse a patient ever had, had been lying on the bed by me for hours reading to me. It had been a long, trying day to us both, and full of suffering for me. She fell asleep, and the book dropped from her hand. I searched about for it, and ran my numb hands over its open pages, and strained my eyes upon it, and thought how much I would give to be able to read one word! I turned my face toward where I knew the window to be, and felt I would give a thousand lives if I had them, just to see God's sun one more time!
Then suddenly there swept over me, like a great wave of the sea, an overwhelming consciousness of the ingrate I had been in the years past. I HAD been able to see; I HAD been able to walk; I HAD had health, and a thousand other blessings which I had counted as naught, simply because God had taken from me the one in whom my happiness was centered. Now I would give a thousand lives if I had them only to have these blessings, which I had fretted away, back again, or even only one of them! The scales had dropped from my eyes, and I think I saw myself and my conduct in that solemn, quiet hour almost as God must have seen me, even as I saw, humiliated, sorrowful, repentant at last, I felt my Lord's presence--His nearness, and His pity and forgiveness. Peace had come at last.
But even in that same moment I knew--it seemed given to me to know--that I would not die, but live! My heart almost stopped beating at the thought. Live on like that--a blind, helpless paralytic! A burden to my family! It was almost more than I could bear! But with this thought came, on the instant, another. My Lord had returned to me! With Him by my side, I could bear anything. With Him by my side, I could even make my couch a blessing and a benediction in our home. AND I WOULD! Perhaps it was for this I must live!
My poor, tired sister found a new creature, though she did not know, when she awakened. I had been with my Lord. He had comforted me and shown me the way. The sense of darkness and despair was gone, and in its stead had come peace, and a calm resignation, even happiness.
I tell or think of those days of spiritual darkness with great regret. I find some excuse in my youth, and some consolation in the fact that not for a day in all those years was the struggle to right myself with my Lord abandoned. But even so, not once had I relented in my resentment of the administration of His will.
But at last my wilful spirit was conquered, and I lay, like a tired child, at peace, in my Savior's arms--forgiven. And not once in all the years that have followed have I felt other than gratitude for His chastening, the chastening which I forced upon myself through my wilfulness. And over and over again, and always, do I marvel at His never faltering love, and patience, and tenderness with me. How I tried Him! But praise His name, He did not desert me! Like Paul, I can truly say, "I glory in my tribulations." Through them I found again my "lost Christ."
I tell of these things in the hope that they may be helpful to someone else, and because I could not give a true sketch of my life and leave them out. Of one thing we may be sure--of the unchangeableness of our God, and His everlasting love and watch-care. These are never separated from us, though we may sometimes feel so because of the walls which we ourselves have built up between us, and which His love is ever ready to remove.
The months moved slowly on. Then there came a time, it was in the following spring, when I was sure my poor blind eyes could discern light. After a while I could see the outline of large objects. Then came the conviction that I would recover, and with it came again that old, old question--What would I do with my life? Of one thing I was certain--I had promised it over and over, again and again, out of a grateful heart, that somehow, somewhere, I would find a place and a way to serve my Lord.
About this time the union between the U.S.A. Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was being discussed. It was often a subject of conversation around my couch in my father's home. My heart cried out against it--I could not give up my Church!
In the year 1904, I learned to walk again as a little child would, and my eyes became accustomed to the light. By the spring of 1906 I was reasonably well, and that spring, at the meeting of Logan Presbytery, I was elected Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer of our Presbyterial work. That was April. How I did rejoice! At last a door of service was being opened to me. No one was more inexperienced than I, but under the instructions of older officers, I made ready to take up my task. But my task was no sooner found than lost. For in May it was announced that union was consummated. Every Presbyterial officer in my Presbytery, save myself, the youngest and most inexperienced of all, went U.S.A., and every Auxiliary in the Presbytery.
By that fall efforts were launched to hold the Cumberland Presbyterian Church together. A temporary Woman's Board was announced in the Cumberland Banner, and the women urged to reorganize. I, being the only Presbyterial officer left in my Presbytery, at last had a work to do. I would try to gather our forces together and rebuild our walls in Logan Presbytery. How hard I worked and studied, daily thanking God in great joy for the privilege of service! I had never been as happy in my life.
By the following spring we had made some progress in Logan Presbytery, having reorganized several Auxiliaries, one of which was in Bowling Green, of which, notwithstanding my very earnest protest, I was made President, and as a result of which, so keenly did If eel the responsibility, I spent the whole night in prayer. In April, our Presbytery met, at which time I served on the program, my first experience in religious program work.
In May, 1907, Cumberland Presbyterians met in great power in Dickson, Tennessee,--the Assembly and the Woman's Convention. It was my first Woman's Convention. I was made a member of the Woman's Board at that meeting, having but little idea what the Woman's Board was, and no idea what it meant to be a member.
In the fall of the same year, it was decided we should have a Woman's Board Department in the Church paper. I was asked to take the editorship, and after much prayer, consented, feeling keenly my lack of experience and my inefficiency. But God gave me strength and courage, and at His feet, week after week, for five years, I learned how to take the next step, for I had never even read a Woman's Board Department or any other missionary journal.
That fall the people of the Church asked me to come to several Presbyterial and Synodic meetings. I could hardly believe the evidence of my good eyes! But my Lord was with me, and used one even as weak and inexperienced as I in the rebuilding of our beloved walls, and in all the land there was not one as happy as I.
In a year or two I was elected Vice-President of the Woman's Board, and served in that capacity until May, 1916, when the Woman's Convention met in Birmingham, Ala., and at which time and place I was elected President of the Woman's Board, which office I hold at the present time.
Looking back over my life I think I see how, step my step,
the dear Lord led me, even from childhood, toward that work which
to me is the greatest, the noblest, the most Christ-like work
in all the world--the work of missions, and the work that surely
lies nearest the Father's heart. And He has filled my heart with
an absorbing love for it, and a willingness to spend myself for
its advancement. To Him I go year after year pleading to be shown
the next forward step that shall be taken by Cumberland Women.
If I have ever given anything, in thought, word or deed, that
has led to the advancement and uplift of our work, it came to
me, not out of my own intellect or vision, but by, and through
the Father, Whom I believe has led us and will continue to lead
us all the way, if we continue to seek and trust in His guiding
Yours in loving service,
MRS. JOHNIE MASSEY CLAY.
[Source: pamphlet published by the Woman's Board of Missions, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Evansville, Indiana, January, 1924]
The Cumberland Presbyterian church, a missionary church, the Cumberland Presbyterian church, a missionary church," seemed to be the refrain repeating over and over again to the lady "with a sweet consecration shining in her face"--one who had become so concerned with the rebuilding of the denomination's foreign mission program. She was so concerned that she prayed many hours, at home, on the streets and while riding trains, that the entire denomination might be a missionary church.
This person, who is scarcely able to read now, but who still keeps up with the work of the church as others read to her, and who is still as interested in the church as she was during the years when the denomination was at a low ebb, is Mrs. Johnnie Massey Clay. She has been a Cumberland Presbyterian since 1883 and for many years a member of the Bowling Green, Kentucky church. As the time for another Missionary Convention draws near, it is especially fitting that Mrs. Clay, who devoted so many years of her life to the foreign mission program be honored as a "Leader of Yesteryear."
The story of Mrs. Clay's life began March 25, 1871, in a country home in Kentucky when she was born to John and Mary Frances Massey. She became a Christian at the age of 12. In the summer of that same year, a field organizer came to a church nearby and talked on the work of the Woman's Board of Missions, announcing her desire to organize missionary societies. This she did, also organizing a Children's Band, of which Mrs. Clay became president. Mrs. Clay says that from the first she loved mission work and from that day a vibrant chord within responded always to the mention of the word missions.
Following childhood came school and college days which were spent at the Bowling Green Private School and Potter College. These days she describes as being "serious and rather frightened reflections, for I had a somewhat serious outlook on life in which God was a decided, though perhaps a rather vague factor, or personality, or consideration." She felt God wanted her to do something but could not determine what that something was. During these years she attended missionary meetings. And though she heard others complain that the programs were "dry and uninteresting," she caught every word spoken.
During college days she determined to fit herself to become a college teacher, but instead chose to become the wife of B.F. Clay. Tragically, her husband died suddenly, only eighteen months after the marriage. So great was her grief and suffering that her health gave way, and she was an invalid, totally blind and paralyzed from her hips down. After a few years, however, her body and spirit began to heal, and she found she could discern light. Gradually she recovered, learning to walk again in 1904, as a little child would as her eyes became accustomed to the light.
About this time the union between the U.S.A. and the Cumberland Presbyterian churches was being discussed. In the Spring of 1906, she attended the meeting of Logan Presbytery and was elected corresponding secretary and treasurer of the presbyterial work. However, after the union was consummated, she found that she was the only officer remaining in Logan Presbytery, and she was keenly aware of the responsibility that rested upon her of trying to rebuild the work in the presbytery. She gathered the few women of the presbytery together, and set out to make plans for the work. Although she had been an officer, she had not been in a leading place of responsibility. What was lacking in numbers and experience in those days, however, was made up in faith.
Soon the consecration and devoted ability of Mrs. Clay attracted the denominational leaders and she was asked to bring a message to the 1907 Missionary Convention. She declined, feeling she was not capable of speaking to the denominational group. After repeated invitations she agreed to bring the message. She said that she spent much time the night before reworking the message and praying for guidance to say the right things. She relates that after the message was given she was sitting in the corner of the church trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. A committee chairman was reading a report, but Mrs. Clay was thinking of what she had said to the Convention. She vaguely heard her name called, and a vote was taken. When a recess was declared, she discovered she had been made a member of the Woman's Board of Missions, predecessor of the present Board of Foreign Missions.
Shortly after that she was elected president of the Board and served in that capacity for many years. Through her leadership a strong foundation was laid for the missionary work of the denomination.
It was at the 38th annual convention held at Dallas, Texas in 1918 that the Wayside Prayer and Benediction, composed by Mrs. Clay, was adopted, and it is still being used throughout the church in synods, presbyteries, and local auxiliaries:
O Holy Lord, our Father and our God,
Hear Thou and answer this ardent prayer of our hearts--
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church a Missionary Church,
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church a Missionary Church,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The love and concern for the work of God expressed in this
prayer is still very much alive in the heart of Mrs. Johnnie Massey
Clay, and a salute is here given to her for being a devoted and
active leader in years gone by, and leading still today as she
prays for her church to be a missionary church.--HESTER MORROW
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, June 4, 1957, pages 11-12]
Mrs. Johnie Massey Clay, 92, died at 11:40 p.m. yesterday at her residence, 1123 State St., following an illness of several months.
Prior to her retirement, Mrs. Clay was active in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, having served for 31 years as president of the church's National Board of Missions.
A native of Allen County, she was born March 25, 1871, the daughter of the late John and Mary Greer Massey. She was the widow of B. Frank Clay who died in 1895.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Gerard-Bradley Chapel. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery. The body is at the funeral home.
In recognition of her work in the missionary field, a missions building at Cali, Colombia, was dedicated to her several years ago.
She is survived by a nephew, Walter Massey, Chicago.
[Source: Park City Daily News (Bowling Green, Kentucky), September 6, 1963]
The one person perhaps more responsible for the re-organization of foreign missions work in the denomination since the turn of the century died at her home in Bowling Green, Ky., on September 6. She was 92.
Mrs. Johnie Massey Clay, with a small group of determined and devoted women leaders of the denomination, re-organized the Woman's Board of Missions and served as its president for nearly 20 years.
During her declining years, Mrs. Clay has not been known by present leaders very well. She is remembered by older leaders of the church as a dynamic person, one who had unusual leadership ability, deep consecration and a determination to lead the church in its foreign missions responsibilities.
Mrs. Clay spent her almost century of life in Bowling Green, and was a loyal member of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Her funeral was held with Dr. Charles R. Matlock, until recently her pastor, now of Jackson, Tenn., in charge. Participating in the services also were Rev. Merlyn A. Alexander, who had just assumed the pastorate of the Bowling Green church that week, Dr. C. Ray Dobbins, editor of THE CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN, and Dr. Raymon Burroughs, dean of Bethel College, and a member of the Board of Foreign Missions.
After the partial merger of the church in 1906, Mrs. Clay became a leader of re-organization of missions work. She attended the historic 1907 meeting when the General Assembly and Women's Convention met at Dickson, Tenn., the birthplace of the church. At that time she became one of a group of women leaders in developing the women's work. In 1916, she was elected president of the Woman's Board of Missions in its meeting in Birmingham, and in this office continued for nearly 20 years.
During this time the women leaders began to re-organize missionary work throughout the bounds of the church.
In 1930 the first efforts for a missions magazine, culminated in the mimeographed edition of The Jubilee Journal. It was datelined January 1930. The first editorial was written by Mrs. Clay. This was the beginning of what later developed into the present missionary magazine of the church, The Missionary Messenger.
The "wayside prayer" which has been used as the prayer of missionary circles throughout the denomination for many years, and continues as such, was composed by Mrs. Clay.
During most of their life Mrs. Clay and her sister, Mrs. J. W. Goodrum, lived together; the latter preceded her in death by two and a half years, at the age of 96.
Tragedy struck Mrs. Clay's life in her early years: after she had been married only 18 months her husband died. (He died 68 years ago.) A few years later she turned her energies to the work of missions and to this work she was strongly committed to the end of her life.
Neither she nor her sister had children and as they had been inseparable in life, so now they sleep in death unseparated. In the Bowling Green cemetery there lies Mr. and Mrs. Clay and Mr. and Mrs. Goodrum; only a large stone marker separates them, with "Clay" on one side and "Goodrum" on the other. The nearest survivor was a nephew.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, September 24, 1963, pages 3 & 11]
A MIGHTY TOWER OF STRENGTH has moved from our earthly scene with the homegoing of Mrs.Johnie Massey Clay.
Through the generations she has stood as a tremendous power in Christian witnessing in this community, in the region and to the distant places where our church has carried its witness through foreign missions.
A pioneer leader of women in foreign missions work of the church, during the early part of this century she and a few other courageous and devoted women banded together and formed the Women's Board of Missions. This actually marked the beginning again of missions work in our entire denomination in this century. Her leadership and spirit challenged the thousands of women in the church to sacrificial service for missions.
For nearly 20 years she served as president of the board. Her life, her talents, her resources, she has given unsparingly for this great cause.
Mrs. Clay helped originate the first publication--The Jubilee Journal--which was later developed into The Missionary Messenger of today.
The "wayside prayer" which has been used in missionary meetings for decades and which continues to be used today, came from her heart. The Colegio Americano, our mission school which stands in the city of Cali, Colombia, South America, is a significant monument to her devotion. In the foyer of that building there is a metal plaque which tells of the building being dedicated to her.
Now this tower of strength moves from our human scene. As we gather here to celebrate her homegoing, we express thanksgiving for her life. We, who have been loved by her have our memories to inspire and guide us. It is ours to serve God more devotedly because she is not here. We have the privilege of showing our love by doing things she loved the best. We have the opportunity to be more gentle, more thoughtful, and kinder and thus compensate for her absence from us.
(From a tribute delivered at Mrs. Clay's funeral in Bowling Green, Ky., on September 8.)
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, September 24, 1963, page 5, editorial by C. Ray Dobbins]
A SPIRIT OF HUSH, sadness and retrospection fell upon the hearts of Cumberland Presbyterians the morning of September 6, 1963, when the word was released that the soul of Mrs. Johnie Massey Clay had gone back to God, whom she had faithfully served most of her life. No doubt in the heart of each person who knew her, there immediately sprang forth a spirit of exultation because of her victory in Christ. There must have been something of the triumph she once expressed in a message to the Missionary Convention, " . . . there is a Cross at the top, and our Christ, and His 'well done.' The radiance of His countenance lights the way. It is enough."
Mrs. Clay was born in a country home in Kentucky. At the age of 12 she became a Christian. That same year she became interested in missions, which had an effect on her entire life. Always there was the feeling that God had something for her to do.
She married early in life. Her husband lived only 18 months. Grief, stress and strain resulted in her becoming an invalid, totally blind and paralyzed from her waist down. No hope was held for her recovery. By 1904 peace had again come into her life. Her sight returned. She learned to walk again. By the spring of 1906 she was reasonably well. She emerged from unbearable heartache to complete dedication to the cause of missions in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Through the years, even when she was tried as by fire, she held tenaciously to the principle that "We must stand re-offered to our own mission fields."
In 1907 at the meeting of the Missionary Convention in Dickson, Tennessee, she became a member of the Temporary Woman's Board of Missions. In that year she suggested the observance of the Woman's Board of Missions Day, which later came to be known as Foreign Missions Day.
Until 1911 Mrs. Clay was editor of the Woman's Board Department of the Cumberland Banner. In 1911 she became Field Secretary and later Secretary of the Field Workers of the Board.
In 1918 Mrs. Johnie Massey Clay became president of the Woman's Board of Missions, later named the Board of Foreign Missions, at the meeting of the Missionary Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, which position she held until her retirement from Board membership in 1936.
During the period of membership on the Board, Mrs. Clay saw many changes and much progress in the field of missions in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, much of which she helped to inaugurate and for which she was in a great measure responsible. She saw Dr. Gam Sing Quah go to China and establish 11 missions. Following his death she helped guide Samuel King Gam in assuming his father's responsibilities. There was the organization of Canton Presbytery in 1925, which was the first organized presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on foreign soil.
Mrs. Clay was in a great measure responsible for starting our missions in Colombia. For her, the Johnie Massey Clay building of the John A. Deavor mission in Cali was named in 1937. As president she led the Board in sending the first missionaries to Colombia in 1925 and in organizing Cauca Valley Presbytery in 1935.
In trying to think of some memorial to her own mother, she gave to the church the observance of "Mother's Day," the offerings from which were a strong source of money for the education of Chinese girls.
In 1918 she wrote the Wayside Prayer and Benediction used in missionary auxiliaries today. For years Mrs. Clay wrote the words to the Convention Theme Song. In 1920 she worked tenaciously for the establishment of the Ashburn-Graf Chair of Missions in Bethel College and the Ashburn-Graf Endowment. In 1920 she also directed the beginning of the Missions in Sunday School programs with a sharing of funds for both home and foreign missions. Mrs. Clay led in continuing the Jubilee Journal after 1930, when it became THE MISSIONARY MESSENGER.
Mrs. Clay contributed of her total self, including her possessions, to the cause of missions in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Funeral services were held in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Sunday afternoon, September 8, with Dr. Charles R. Matlock, a recent pastor, conducting the services. The Board of Foreign Missions was represented by Dr. Raymon Burroughs, also a former pastor.
For many years Mrs. Clay, "Brother Willie" and her sister, Mrs. J. W. Goodrum, lived together in Mrs. Clay's home in Bowling Green. The brother died several years ago and Mrs. Goodrum died almost four years ago. Since then she has continued to live in her own home, attended continually by nurses. Though she has been blind, she has maintained an interest in missions in the local church and throughout the denomination. Friends, often her pastor's wife, have read to her and until recent months she kept aware of activities in the church. Her only remaining relative is a nephew, who lives in Chicago.
Dr. Matlock said, "Every time I visited her she wanted prayer. I would pray, then she would pray and she always prayed for our missions and missionaries."
The impact of her death is too sudden and there is hardly time to write a suitable memorial to one whose consecrated life has influenced, challenged and inspired thousands of women throughout the Church to an abiding support of missions. Nationals in China and Colombia, missionaries who went to these and other fields during her period of service on the Board, ministers and others throughout the Church saw in her a charm, grace, dignity, executive and business ability and unquestionable loyalty and zeal seldom evidenced by a person so completely saturated with missions.
The impact of her life will remain vivid in the lives of those who knew her strength and devotion. One of her last memorable statements to the Golden Jubilee Convention in 1930 well expresses the vigor and consecration with which she gave herself to the task of missions: "Glue my hands to my task, my God. Nail there my ear to hear Thy voice. Anoint my head, and fire my tongue to speak for Thee this year of Jubilee."
[Source: The Missionary Messenger, October 1963, pages 2 & 14]
Clay, Mrs. Johnie Massey. A Brief History of Cumberland Presbyterian Missions in South China or Gam Sing Quah in China: 1908-1923.
Clay, Mrs. Johnie Massey. The Young Man From China (Gam Sing Quah in America). Nashville, Tennessee: Woman's Board of Missions Cumberland Presbyterian Church, no date.