On November 9, 1918, OPC missionary Florence Handyside was born in Rochester, New York. Growing up in a Methodist family, Florence's father became upset when the local Methodist church replaced a faithful minister with a liberal one. Mr. Handyside would join a non-denominational congregation. Florence started attending Covenant OPC in Rochester and started to grow in her knowledge of the Reformed faith under the pastoral ministry of Peter Pascoe. Her heart's desire soon thereafter was to be a missionary.
With the support of her parents, Florence attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago to be trained as a missionary. At Moody, she learned about the gospel work in Korea, including that of OPC missionaries Bruce and Kathy Hunt. After World War II ended, she traveled to Philadelphia to met with Robert Marsden, general secretary of the OPC Committee on Foreign Missions. Marsden told her that it was too dangerous at that time to send any missionaries to Korea.
Undeterred, Florence applied to the US Army to serve as a secretary in Korea. She was accepted and arrived in Seoul in April 1948. In June, she visited OPC missionary Bruce Hunt, and their meeting went well. In January 1949, Marsden and the Committee made Florence the first single woman missionary in the OPC. She was excited about the opportunity and began to prepare for full time service. However, at the beginning of February she became severely ill. She had contracted polio. Paralysis started to extend over her body, finally reaching her heart. Florence Handyside would go to be with the Lord on February 12, 1949.
A full account of the life and service of Florence Handyside by Caroline Weestra can be found in Choosing the Good Portion: Woman of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church which is available on OPC.ORG here.
Picture: Florence Handyside