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Joy Crombie

1948-1949 / NZBTI Diploma (Queen Street Campus)

Joy was born in Auckland and grew up on the third floor of the Auckland Ferry Building where her father was caretaker. There was little thought of Christianity in her home as her parents were more interested in horse racing and gambling. But deep within, Joy had a longing to know God herself. She was later convinced that it was the prayers of her faithful grandmother who influenced that longing.[1] In 1941, Joy accepted Christ as her Saviour at a Crusader Camp at Willow Park, a month before her 16th birthday.

After training as a nurse, Joy applied to study at the NZ Bible Training Institute. In her application she stated: “I know I have been trained to serve. I love the Lord because he first loved me”, and “having completed my nursing course my eyes are now turned to something else, that I may further equip myself for a life of service wherever He leads”. Her parents were opposed to her application, thinking it a waste of time.

Towards the end of her two years at NZBTI, former students and now missionaries Jack and Vera Nicholson from the Sudan Interior Mission (now SIM) came to address the students. It was then that Joy made the decision to go to Ethiopia with SIM. After graduation, she completed six months’ maternity training and set sail for Africa on 20 October 1950.

For the next 27 years Joy worked in 13 mission stations, mainly among people of the Muslim and animist faiths, giving curative and preventative care. Stationed in rural areas she essentially did the work of a doctor and was called “Lady Doctor” by the locals. On one occasion she had to amputate a leg after a shooting accident. During the “Ethiopian Red Terror”, a violent communist uprising, Joy was held under virtual house arrest before being forced to leave the country in 1977. At the time she left, there were an estimated 200 believers within the tribe she was serving in – by 1990 there were around 10,000 Christians.

Joy remained in New Zealand for two years, using that time to complete a nine-month midwifery course, and a 10-week refresher study programme at her old training institute, now Bible College of New Zealand. During that time Joy heard of the need for an experienced nurse to serve at a large SIM hospital in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. So, in November 1979, aged 54, she set off to a new country and new culture. After some time working in the hospital, Joy moved 200 miles north of Monrovia to work in preventative health care in rural Gondo Town. With qualified dentists rarely found outside of the cities, Joy was also called on to use her basic dentistry skills - her record was 111 tooth extractions in two days!

By 1990, civil war was about to erupt and Joy’s planned home assignment was brought forward two weeks earlier than planned. Within months all SIM missionaries were evacuated from Liberia. Joy returned to Africa once again in the mid-1990s – back to Ethiopia 45 years after she first arrived. Now aged 70, Joy stayed for three years as a medical research writer before her visa expired and she returned to NZ to retire in Kaitaia.

Joy entered the presence of her Saviour on 16 January 2016 at age 90.

[1] Sue Hungerford with Joy Crombie, Marching with Joy: The Story of Joy Crombie’s 45 years serving with SIM in Ethiopia and Liberia (SIM NZ, 1999), 9.

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