Mrs. Esther Susan Christensen, of Charlotte, NC, passed away on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at home.
Esther was born on August 11, 1955 in Cucuta, Colombia. She was the youngest of seven children born to Arthur and Mary Louise Bakker. Her parents served as missionaries with TEAM in Colombia for around 40 years. She attended TEAM boarding schools in Colombia and Venezuela through 10th grade and completed high school in Dallas, TX. She graduated from Moody Bible Institute and Biola University.
Esther's and Doug's parents were friends from Hawthorne Gospel Church, NJ and served separately in various parts of Latin America before Doug and Esther were born. Doug likes to say that they had an arranged marriage: “God arranged it, and helped us figure that out.” Esther moved back to New Jersey after college. Esther and Doug's friendship grew in Sunday School, Youth Ministries, and other outreach. Their friendship grew to romance and marriage in 1981.
Esther and Doug served as missionaries with SIM. They served in Bolivia 1989-1995, and then moved to Charlotte to serve at SIM's International and US Headquarters. Through it all Esther’s primary ministry was to her family, but she also ministered to others. In Bolivia Esther taught women and children about Jesus. She taught Quechua-speaking people to read and write in their own language. Here in Charlotte, Esther was the Personal Assistant to SIM's Deputy International Director for the Americas. She counselled Latino women at the Palmetto Crisis Pregnancy Center, and led Bible studies and served as a Spanish translator at Steele Creek Church of Charlotte.
God has blessed our family with four children, Nathan, Andrew, Heidi, and Erica Julie. More recently the Lord has added two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren: Ezekiel, Elias, and Evangeline (born to Nathan and Sarah); and Moses, Jasmine, and Eleanor (born to Andrew and Erica Michelle).
Esther was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in 2015. She inspired many though her trust, hope, and love in Jesus during the last difficult years of her life. A few months ago she wrote,
“I want to tell you something interesting that God is showing me. I was getting stressed when Trilogy [my breathing machine] is off because I can't get enough air. I was telling myself it would be ok, I prayed for help, for peace but was only slightly better. I don't know if it was something Dallas Willard said in the book I'm listening to or not, but the other day I started thinking about peace that passes understanding. If it passes understanding, then it could calm my physical reaction to not having Trilogy and keep me calm. I don't have to understand it. It doesn't have to be rational. I think it will be something I grow in. It won't happen all at once, but so far it's going better. I think/hope I'm less wild-eyed and crazy [without my breathing machine].
‘(Our bodies) were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies... God brought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.’ (1 Cor. 6:13b and 20 NLT)”
We thank God for His blessings in and through Esther. We will miss her and look forward to seeing her again!
Funeral service will be 4:30 p.m. Sunday, November 24, 2019 at Steele Creek Church of Charlotte, 1929 West Arrowood Road, Charlotte, NC 28217. The family will receive friends from 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Church. Light refreshments will be served following the service. The service will be live streamed live at www.steelecreek.org/esther.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to SIM www.simusa.org/give project: “Faithful Witnesses in Forgotten Communities 099746-091”; Palmetto Women’s Center www.palmettowomenscenter.com ; or ALS Association North Carolina Chapter www.alsa.org
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