Alice Compain, 1934-2008
Alice Compain, the veteran OMF missionary to Cambodia and Laos, died at a nursing home in Pembury, Kent on September 4 2008 at the age of 74.
Alice was prepared by God to be a missionary to Laos and Cambodia. Born into a multilingual Christian family in London. English, French and German were the languages of the home. At the age of six she began to play the violin and that would prove the key to much of her subsequent service.
She was converted as a teenager and called to missionary service while at the Royal College of Music. Bible College in France further equipped her for service in French speaking Indo-China.
As a member of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, sent out by Camrose Baptist Church, she went to Laos in 1959. OMF worked closely with the Swiss Mission Evang?lique au Laos and Alice was ideally placed for this wider fellowship.
Alice was not only involved in evangelism in Southern Laos, but also taught at the Bible School in Savannakhet. When the school was closed, she drew on the experience of her brother-in-law, Keith Anderson, in Kenya to develop education by extension.
In 1973 Alice was invited to join the small group of OMF members who went into Cambodia during a short day of opportunity for reaping and training converts before the Khmer Rouge took over. During this time Alice was able to teach in French while she learned Khmer. Evacuated from Cambodia without the opportunity to say farewell to her Cambodian friends, it was back to Laos where, within a few months, she was again evacuated.
Alice had a great gift for friendship and when, in later years, she was able to revisit Laos, people were astonished at her ability to remember names and relationships amongst the Lao Christians.
From 1975 to 1989 Alice found herself working among Cambodian refugees in camps in Thailand. This was a time when, alongside the relief work which permitted her presence there, many people were led to the Lord and discipled. Some would eventually return to Cambodia but others formed the core of the Khmer churches in France and the US.
In 1989 the possibility arose for foreign workers to go into Cambodia again. Alice took her violin and gained a job as a teacher at the University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. She was the first OMFer back in the country. I remember her asking me a few years later to find another musician to teach so that she could spend more time in ministry to the Cambodian believers.
Alice’s ministry continued in Cambodia, with occasional visits into Laos, into her 70s when her advancing cancer made a permanent return to the UK necessary. She maintained to the end those values with which she had commenced her missionary career — a simplicity of life-style and a commitment to the development of national believers within their own culture.
It is due mainly to Alice that the Cambodian and Lao churches can sing the praises of God not only in their own languages, but also in their native music forms. Her dedication to music was great. Just days before her death at Cornford House, a nursing home in Pembury, she made some visitors sing a hymn several times until they got the tune right! Now she has joined a greater choir.