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Literacy missions pioneer Lillian Isaacs dies at 88

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)–Lillian Louise Kirtland Isaacs, 88, a pioneer in literacy missions, died March 2 in Tallahassee, Fla.

Isaacs and her late husband John inspired many Christians to become involved in literacy missions over the years. They served wherever the Lord led them, from the hollows of Kentucky to the Alaskan frontier.

In was in eastern Kentucky, the heart of Appalachia, where the Isaacs planted the roots of their literacy missions work with the support of First Baptist Church in Pineville and Woman’s Missionary Union, which helped advertise and sponsor local literacy programs.

Isaacs first announced her mission to begin literacy training at a WMU meeting in May 1959. In October of that year, the initial literacy-training workshop, funded by the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board), was held at Clear Creek Baptist College, where John Isaacs was a professor and local pastor.

“The WMU was the best friend the program had,” Lillian Isaacs once said. And Isaacs was a good friend to WMU as well. In 1999, the Lillian Isaacs Endowment for Literacy Missions was established through the WMU Foundation to support individuals and groups who strive to make literacy missions a reality where they live and work.

In addition to being a pioneer in literacy missions, serving as the HMB’s first national literacy missionary, Isaacs was “a gracious Christian woman who served as a shining example for others,” WMU Foundation President David George said. “She lived her faith in a way that inspired countless men, women and children to be involved in God’s mission. We are honored to have the privilege and responsibility of managing the Lillian Isaacs Endowment for Literacy Missions.”

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Isaacs, an Alabama native, was a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Ga.

She is survived by her son John R.L. Isaacs and a grandson.

Her funeral service was March 7 at First Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
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