Wanda Knox, a biography
written by Kimberly Jayne, SNU student, to fulfill requirements for the
course in "Nazarene Missions"
The parents of the new baby girl born on
March 21, 1931 could never have dreamed of the influence their daughter would have on
Christian missions and in the lives of countless people. Wanda Knox was truly a woman who
gave her life for Jesus through every day. Accepting Christ at the
age of eight, Wanda already felt a call to tell others of Jesus. She was involved in many
ministries as a teenager, taking advantage of every opportunity to serve Christ. It was in
Oklahoma City that Wanda became a member of the Church of the Nazarene, and there that she
experienced a call to missions while attending what is now Southern Nazarene University.
Wanda's call into missions did not come through a booming
voice from the heavens or even during a church service. Rather, it came through the leading of
God that started a relationship between her and Sidney Knox
who was also attending what is now Southern Nazarene University. Sidney Knox soon swept
Wanda off of her feet. His definite missions call affirmed the enduring passion she had for so
long to be a missionary. Sidney and Wanda were married on May 27, 1951. Shortly thereafter,
they moved to Texas to pastor a church. In 1953, at a Nazarene missions convention they
experienced fresh leading from God. They felt His leading to go as missionaries to Papua New
Guinea. Becoming convinced that this was truly God's will, in 1955 they left the United States
with their two year old son Geron to pioneer Nazarene work in Papua New Guinea.
They plunged into ministry work there, cultivating
relationships and setting up strategic preaching points. While working to learn the pidgin English
language, Wanda and Sidney used an interpreter to communicate. They began a school for
children with dormitories and both taught. On Sundays they would travel to three preaching
posts. Sidney would preach while Wanda was deeply involved in music. They traveled into the
bush and would share the gospel with tribes of New Guineans. In September of 1957 their family
grew with the addition of a daughter, Janie.
Four months after Janie was born, Sidney became very ill.
His illness forced the Knoxes to leave New Guinea and return to the States. Diagnosed with
cancer, Sidney died in 1958.
At that point, Wanda experienced the darkest valley of her
life and spiritual walk. But God provided for her and this period of time became a foundation for
God's unfolding plan for her. While in the U.S., Wanda continued to have a burden for the people
of Papua New Guinea. So, she went before the Nazarene missions board asking to be sent back
to Papua New Guinea as a missionary. The board was initially reluctant, but God revealed to
them that this was His will. So, in October of 1960 Wanda Knox returned to New Guinea with
her children Geron and Janie.
Wanda's main work was teaching at
the mission primary school. She flourished as a teacher. She always sought to better herself in
order to be more effective in her ministry. She went through certification and training courses
for education. For almost ten years she taught at the primary school, and was deeply involved in
many aspects of the children's lives including sports, music, plays, and parties. She loved
children and always gave much of herself to them. She was also very involved in hospital
visitation at the mission hospital and found great joy in serving the patients.
Wanda and Sidney Knox in
In 1970, Wanda felt that God was leading her to leave the
primary school and to begin teaching full-time at the Bible college. She thoroughly enjoyed
teaching theology, scripture and music and dedicated much of her time to educating the ministers'
wives. She touched her students' lives in many ways and shared with them her passion to reach
the lost, a passion which wound up being mirrored in their ministries.
Five years passed and Wanda again sensed that God was
calling her somewhere else. Though she was uncertain of the path ahead, she made preparations
to leave the Bible college. It wasn't long before Dr. Jerald
Johnson contacted her to say that she had been named executive director of Nazarene Missions International, the denomination's promotional and
fund-raising organization. After much prayer, she accepted. So, leaving twenty years of
missionary service behind, Wanda Knox moved to Kansas City to begin her new work.
As executive director of what is now
NMI, Wanda stayed busy with meetings and traveling from place to place. Her accomplishments
included introducing a new Mission Achievement Award system, having the World Evangelism Fund reach 100% payment, improving missions
education and redesigning the Alabaster box, something which
immediately increased Alabaster giving. [ more on
Wanda was especially devoted to educating children about
missions. She wrote several books for them. She also involved prayer and fasting in her mission efforts because she believed
that to be foundational for God's will to be achieved.
In 1980, the Lord once again spoke clearly to Wanda and
she resigned as the NMI executive director. She returned to New Guinea for a twenty-fifth
anniversary celebration of the Nazarene mission work there. Then, she went on to Israel where she pastored a church while the missionaries to there
went on furlough. Wanda loved her time in Israel, soaking in the culture and being in the land in
which Jesus once walked. After a year in Israel she returned to Southern Nazarene University in
Bethany, OK to continue her education so that she could be a "supply" missionary for the World
Mission Department. During this time she served as college pastor for Bethany (OK) First
Church of the Nazarene.
Two years later, in 1983, Wanda was asked to teach at
Caribbean Nazarene Theological College on the island of Trinidad. There, along with
introducing students to C.S. Lewis and Shakespeare, she presented scripture in a deep and
refreshing way. She became very involved with her students' lives. During her time in Trinidad, she was able to travel to Barbados to participate in a
missionary convention where she spoke and offered training sessions.
During her Christmas break, Wanda had planned to visit her
family and friends. Those plans were disrupted by the discovery of a large mass on her abdomen.
She returned to the U.S. where the doctors discovered she had an ovarian tumor. She had
The news after her surgery was not good.
The doctors had found a malignant, cancerous tumor and they were unable to get it all. She began
chemotherapy and went through times of great sickness. Through it all though, Wanda Knox had
a joyful and trusting heart. When her chemotherapy was completed, the doctors again did surgery
and found no trace of the cancer. She would have to be monitored closely, but Wanda felt as
though her life was returning back to normal again. She made plans to attend seminary and
traveled to the 1985 Nazarene General Assembly in Anaheim, California. Unfortunately, just a
few months later, a routine CAT scan showed that cancer had returned.
Wanda again went into surgery. This time the doctors did a
colostomy in an attempt to get rid of the cancer. The doctors reported that this was the last thing
they could do. It would not be enough. To family and friends Wanda sent a form letter telling
them of her diagnosis. She spent the last months of her life with her very close friends and with
Janie and Geron who by then were both married and parents themselves. Wanda had a peace
about her approaching death and was prepared to meet her heavenly Father. On January 3, 1986,
Wanda Knox died. Her funeral service was a joyful one which she had actually planned before
her death. It was a service focused on victory in Jesus.
Wanda Knox left behind quite a legacy. She touched
hundreds of thousands of lives. She had a way of making every person feel like they were
special. She always opened her door and her heart to anyone that needed her. Because she always
made her home a safe retreat and cared deeply for the lives of the children and teens on the
mission field, she became "Aunt" Wanda to many MKs. Her students
loved her and treasured what she shared with them. She loved her family and was a wonderful
mother even though at times she had to be far away from Geron and Janie. She was devoted to
her friends and shared herself deeply with them. But more than anything, Wanda loved God and
had a passion for serving Him.
There are few people who truly spend their lives in complete
devotion to God. Wanda was one of those few. She gave every moment of her life to sharing
Jesus with every person she met.
Eby, Carol. Wanda. Kansas City, M0: Nazarene Publishing
Ham, Lisa. Mountain Full of Mischief. Kansas City, M0: Beacon Hill Press, 1989.
Johnson, Jerald. "Welcome, Wanda Knox," World Mission,, back cover, August
We stand on their shoulders
|In the last two centuries
Christianity has become truly global. It has been easy. God has used some ordinary people in
very extraordinary ways. [ read more
SNU missions course materials and syllabi
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax:
Updated: February 19, 2019
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