In 1927, a young couple, James and Lillian Dickson, were sent out by the Presbyterian Church as missionaries to what was then known as Formosa, now Taiwan. James was to take over leadership of a seminary located in Taipei. In the years to come, the events of World War II would cause them to evacuate the island as the war spread further and further across the South Pacific.
Following the war, the Dicksons were able to return and pick up the pieces of their ministry. Lillian, with her children now older, was able to become more involved in ministry activities; and what would, over time, become the God-given work of “The Mustard Seed” began to emerge.
The story of Lillian’s heartbreak at seeing the living conditions in post-war Formosa is best told in her own words in the book Angel At Her Shoulder. Access to this book and a condensed version, published in Readers Digest, can be found under the Media tab on the Home page.
It was Lillian’s Christ-like compassion, faith and commitment that would start her down a path leading to one of the most extensive and effective Christian ministries in that part of the world. Dr. Robert Schuller, a well known pastor in California, recently wrote that over 1,000 churches and affiliated ministries (orphanages, schools, nursing homes, medical facilities and many more) exist in the island nation of Taiwan today as a direct result of the missionary efforts of James and Lillian Dickson.
The legacy of Lillian Dickson is significant in the eyes of the Lord. After sixty-plus years, God continues to bless this ministry. The foundation of faith on which Lillian established Mustard Seed places us firmly where The Lord desires every Christian to be…wholly trusting in Him, as He directs our paths and provides all of our needs! In addition to God’s using Mrs. Dickson as an instrument for shaping Mustard Seed, He also led Dr. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, to befriend Lillian and to become a guiding force in forming Mustard Seed as a non-profit organization in the United States. Dr. Pierce served as the first President of Mustard Seed and remained an active member of the Board of Trustees until his death in 1978. To this day, Mustard Seed seeks to sow seeds of hope in a world of need. Lillian’s stated purpose for MSI was:
“To present Christ to all we meet, to heal disease and all manner of suffering and to love sincerely and deeply those whose lives we are privileged to touch.”
This was more than a thoughtfully conceived purpose statement; it was a heart-felt, prayerful commitment Lillian sought to live by as she served Christ each day. In the lives of those she was privileged to touch…eternity was hanging in the balance!
In the 1960s, Lillian began to expand the MSI ministry outside the borders of Taiwan and across the island nations of Southeast Asia. God blessed the ministry as she held true to the cornerstone commitment of working in and through the local church at each mission site she established. Mustard Seed did not and does not have a large number of expatriate missionaries in foreign countries doing the hands-on work. Rather, it is the indigenous Christians who are enabled by the support and encouragement of Mustard Seed to share the Gospel among their own people.
Each of the Christ-centered Mustard Seed missions around the world is unique, but all of them have one similarity – a commitment to sharing the hope of the Gospel in ways which meet the particular needs of that location. In kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools…in orphanages and homes for abandoned children…through Bible College and Seminary training of pastors, lay leaders and church planting teams…through medical care in clinics and hospitals, through meeting the needs of street children and homeless families, Mustard Seed, by faith and with compassion, seeks to put hands and feet to the words of Jesus found in Mark 16:15 (LB),
“…You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.”
As we look back over the history of MSI, it is amazing to realize that literally tens of thousands of men, women and children have been touched with God’s compassion and love through the ministries of MSI. They have heard the Gospel and seen it in action. Today, eternity with Christ is a reality for many of those individuals. The Lord can and will use each of us in spreading the Gospel to accomplish His purpose…”to bring Glory to His Name.” He is not seeking our talents or abilities but our availability and willingness to follow Him.
In closing, we share a quote from A. W. Tozer:
“God is looking for men and women through whom to do the impossible.”
In the case of Lillian Dickson, the Lord certainly found a willing servant through whom to do the impossible. Could it be that God wants to do the impossible through you? Please take time to explore this web site fully. May it be a blessing and encouragement to you.