In her own words, Dot's testimony about her life:
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama on January 5, 1932. My sister, Olivia was about 3 years older and my brother, Charles, was 2 years younger. My parents were Christians and my mother taught Bible classes in our home. My mother helped me to accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour when I was about 7 years old.
There was a Christian lady in my neighborhood who taught stories about Jesus and missionary stories. This created a desire within me to want to be a missionary. I also attended G.A.’s a missionary group within the Baptist Church to help young girls to become acquainted with missions. At age 17, I was dating a young man who was attending Southeastern Bible College and who felt led to go to South America as a missionary. I felt it was important to seek God’s will for my life. Therefore, at a Missions Conference, I put out a “fleece” to see if God wanted me to be a missionary on a foreign field. God answered with a yes and I was thrilled. The next big question was to find out where God wanted me to serve Him. I really wanted to go to South America with John. One Sunday afternoon, as I was reading my Bible, I asked the Lord to show me where. I was reading about the heathen in Romans 1. “Africa” came out of my mouth. I had asked God and He had answered. I wrote John a letter telling him we should break up and we did. This only lasted 3 months. Truly the flesh is weak. I talked myself into believing that God was just testing me and that God really wanted me to go to South American with John.
John continued his schooling at Southeastern Bible College and I went to Columbia Bible College in Columbia, South Carolina. Every time I heard a message on complete surrender to God, I would have a spiritual battle. I would say to myself, Lord, I would give John up but I know it is not your will? Truly “worked up peace” is not peace.
In my sophomore year at college and a few months before I was to marry John, my parents came to visit me. My dad asked me to give John up!! As shocking as this was, I felt God was speaking through my dad, so I agreed. This was a heartbreak. That very night at the missions meeting at college, God said to me, “Are you willing to go to Africa now?” I surrendered and immediately God’s peace flooded my soul. His peace is real. Thus my relationship with John ended.
During my senior year at CBC, Gene Sanders came along. He also felt led of the Lord to go to Africa. We became engaged. After college, Gene went to Faith Seminary in Philadelphia, PA and I took nurses training in Birmingham, Alabama.
On September 3, 1957, 3 days after I received my R.N., I got my Mrs. We moved to St. Louis, MO where Gene finished seminary and Dot worked in St. Luke’s hospital. We applied to SIM and were accepted. So, in 1960 we set sail for Eritrea, East Africa. We worked in a village called Nacfa for 5 years. Gene was the evangelist and I was the nurse, or more like a “country doctor”. There were many things that I said I would never do like pulling teeth and doing eye operations on the eye lid for Tracoma that God helped me to do. When God asks you to do something, He truly gives you strength to do it.
In 1975, we could not return to the field because of a communist takeover of the government. We applied to American Missionary Fellowship and were accepted. We were appointed to South West Colorado, also called the Four Corners. Gene and I taught many VBS’s, Bible clubs, Bible study classes and teacher training classes.
Even though I was a nurse and a missionary, I had this terrible chain of “inferiority complex”. Around people whom I felt were superior to me, I would sometimes shake. My father-in-law gave me a book, Failure: The Backdoor to Success. In reading through that book, God cut that “chain of inferiority” off of me. I realized that we all, not just me, were failures. That is why Christ died. The first step I had to take was to say out loud, “I am a failure”. But, praise God, I am completely forgiven and justified. The Almighty God lives in my heart by the Holy Spirit. What is success? It is simply obedience to God. That means I can be a success and so can you. I no longer had to pretend I was something great or apologize for just being here. Now, when speaking on furlough, I started sharing the challenges we faced with our children. To my amazement, other parents shared about their children and their problems. The Bible says to share your burdens with one another, not your triumphs.
It has been wonderful to share about Christ in English and teach many others. In the last few years, I have had some tremendous challenges. What has helped me? Simply to focus on God and who He is. No matter what you face, focus on God.