Spring Conference 2013 [Ladies’ Seminar with Alta Hatcher]

The ladies at the Spring Conference had a special treat this morning by getting to hear Sis. Alta Hatcher share many stories from her life, all of which pointed us back to the sovereignty of God. {Romans 8:28}After serving in Brazil for 58 of the 87 years of her life, she is full of wisdom and still loves sharing the Gospel.

“My biggest interest is to see people saved so they can go to Heaven,” she began. “And it’s not just for missionaries to tell people how to be saved. It’s up to all Christians.”

One of her favorite verses that has been especially dear to her over the past few years comes from Matthew 21:22- “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Be sure that what you’re asking as you pray is God’s will because He knows what’s good for us and we don’t.

Sis. Hatcher exhorted us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “Do you pray all the time?” she asked. She prays when she’s cooking. She prays when she’s hooking the clasp on her necklace when she is getting ready, a task that has been a challenge in her older age.

She then shared several of her life experiences with us, all of which were used to point to the sovereignty of God. She was saved at the age of 7 years old after coming under conviction in her Elizabethtown church and begging her mother for several days to read all of John 3 to her. One evening, her mother finally read the chapter right before they went to bed. When they read verses 14-16, that is when Alta realized that Jesus died for her. She was familiar with the Numbers 21 story of the Israelites in the wilderness where they were dying after being bitten by serpents and how when they looked to the serpant on the pole they lived. The next day, she wanted to tell her 6 year old friend that she was saved!

Though saved, her mother thought she was too young and did not allow her to be baptized, telling her that she could be baptized the following Sunday if she obeyed all week long. When the Sunday came, she was not allowed to go forward for baptism because she had disobeyed one time. Therefore, she struggled with doubts because for a long time she thought that Christians didn’t sin. She encouraged all in the room to be careful what you say to children.

At 8 years old, she was trembling wanting to go forward, but she was scared her mother would spank her. She was saved four years before she was baptized and joined the church at the age of 11. At 9 years old, she was called to be a missionary while hearing her mother tell a friend about a single lady missionary in Africa whom they thought had died. She knew she wanted to be a missionary and knew that meant she needed to marry a missionary. She started to pray for a missionary husband at the age of 10 and strongly encourages children to start praying for their spouse at the ages of 7, 8, and 9.

God answers prayers in ways you don’t expect! She was a student at Georgetown College, where the students were all girls with the exception of 9 preachers. When World War II had just ended, she was invited to teach 3rd grade back in E-town. She walked 3 miles two times a week to study music and learn how to play piano. (She sees the sovereignty of God at work here because in all their years of planting churches, she has played the piano and taught children.)

The year she had left to teach, thousands of soldiers returned and enrolled at Georgetown, one of which was John Hatcher. A missionary from Rio came and preached and John was called to missions in Brazil.  The missionary started a club for those interested in missions and one of the ministries they decided to do was pick up new students who needed a ride when they were returning for the new school year. They went through a list of new students and John asked if his friends knew of any students on there who wanted to be a missionary. All of Alta’s classmates screamed her name! John wrote her a letter to let her know he’d pick her up at the train station when she was coming back to school. And…he didn’t show. He was called to preach a revival that evening, but he met her the following morning. They courted two months and married six months later.

Alta Hatcher with 4 of her 5 children in Brazil circa 1958
(courtesy of Hershael York)

In 1955, they moved to Brazil. 70% of the people there did not know how to read or write so they started a school so they could learn how to read their Bibles. They started Chapada Baptist Church and left there with 23 members in 1961. Now the church has grown to 4000+ with their son David as pastor.

When they bought a house in Urai, children started to come visit them, so she started to teach them using flannelgraph. On teaching children: Always tell them HOW to be saved! “During every class, I always taught the Bible, but every class I should have also taught them HOW to be saved,” she said.  

The Hatchers have always been good stewards. They received a $23,000 inheritance from her parents and after leaving it in the bank for about 10 years, they used it to build 4 churches. They are also still driving the same truck they’ve had for the last 43 years, which was bought by Bro. Fox’s 9-12 year old Sunday School class at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church.

This is only a snippet of what she shared with the ladies and by no means even an abridged biography of her extraordinary life, but her stories reminded us that God has a purpose in every little detail of our lives for His glory and our good.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28

Aren’t you thankful for Alta Hatcher?