Success or Significance?

Photo by Paula May/Unsplash

Success depends on your standards. What is success to some, might not mean a hill of beans to another. However, Significance is another matter. Significant means to be noteworthy, remarkable, consequential, uncommon, rare.

Today, My mother would have been 100 years old. She might not have been successful to the world’s eyes, but she was very significant in many ways. she was a world changer. She never traveled far from home, never went outside of the United States. She was fun, serious, a marvelous singer, a terrific mother. But above all else, she loved the Lord with all her heart and had a zeal for His Good News to reach the world.

I’d like to share with you her story of how my mom influenced nations.

She was born in a large city to a lower-income family who struggled to make ends meet. After turning down a voice scholarship to The Juilliard School of the Arts in New York, she eloped at age 16 with my father, Floyd Carroll, and moved to central Mississippi. A year after their marriage Floyd was in a body cast for almost a year following a terrible motorcycle accident. The young couple moved in with his parents who really were not pleased with the marriage, and certainly let Doris know this. It was quite a difficult time in Doris’s life. However, even in these uncomfortable circumstances God was moving and had a plan for her. She spent much of this time with her husband’s grandfather, Bro. McCaleb, who had been a circuit-riding Presbyterian minister. Brother Mac could no longer drive to speak at various churches on Sunday, so Doris drove him. The two of them discussed the Bible and on the drive home from the churches, Doris could ask him questions and delve deeper into his messages. In fact, you might say, my mom was Brother Mac’s best disciple. This Godly man so enriched her life with the love of Jesus that she would never be the same. He instilled in her a burning desire to study the Bible and a zeal to reach others for Jesus. During this time, God planted nations in her heart. 

After his recovery, Doris and Floyd moved to their own home and eventually had four daughters. Doris was very active in her local Baptist church and became the music and choir director, but her heart was always drawn to missions. Anytime there were visiting missionaries, Doris invited them to dinner. As these missionaries told stories of their activities, Doris’ heart burned to go. But her circumstances denied her that privilege. After all, she was the mother of four young girls and had a family to raise. But as she talked and dreamed about missions, she imparted that love and zeal to her children. To Doris, the highest call of the Lord was to be a missionary in a foreign land.

Doris never went to a foreign land, she never went on a mission trip, and as far as I know, she never left the United States. 

BUT GOD! He brought missions to her doorstep. A young man from her home town met and married a Japanese girl and brought her home to Mississippi. After discovering she did not know Jesus, Doris did not rest until she had secured her a Bible in Japanese. She continued to love her, witness to her and eventually won this young Japanese wife to the Lord. 

But that was not the end of Doris’s influence. Her love of missions was passed on to the next generation and the next generation and the next generation. 

Back in 2015, as my sisters and I talked about our mom, we began to count the nations to which we, our children and our grandchildren have carried the gospel.  At that time we counted over ninety nations to which Doris’s generations have carried the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now Doris’s great grand-daughter, husband and two sons serve as full-time missionaries in an Asian country. My Mom’s legacy continues. Since that day, we have added more nations and the count is continuing to grow.

Doris’s circumstances dictated that she stay at home and so she did. But from that tiny little hamlet in central Mississippi, this very significant woman reached the world.

Success? Maybe. Significant? You’d better believe it!

Doris Rae Williams Carroll left a legacy that only eternity will tell. 

Thank you Lord, for my mom! May I, too, release a legacy to my children, the legacy of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. One heart at a time.

My Son-in-Love, Rich, in Kenya