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Missionary prayer leader for Mexico dies of ALS

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Carolyn Jean Mills Hale, a Southern Baptist missionary with the International Mission Board, died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) April 18 in Durango City, Mexico. She was 59.

Hale served as a regional prayer advocate for the IMB; her husband Gerald is the IMB’s field coordinator for Mexico. More than a year ago, she was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Though the condition progressively disabled her body, Hale chose to remain in Mexico and continue her work. She was traveling back to her home in El Salto when she unexpectedly passed away.

“If there is one thing I remember about Carolyn, it was her faithfulness to get the job done,” said Phil Templin, IMB regional leader for Middle America and the Caribbean. “Even when she was limited by ALS, she faithfully completed her task as prayer coordinator. When she was limited by persistent pain and discomfort and could only write a letter at a time, she continued to put information on our prayer network. In many ways, Carolyn Hale was a real model of a faithful servant and committed disciple.”

Born in Knoxville, Tenn., Hale met her future husband in high school. The pair dated for two years and married in 1965. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., and a master of education degree from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Before beginning her nearly 26-year career with the International Mission Board, Hale worked as an elementary school teacher in Birmingham, Ala. In 1980, she and her husband were appointed by the IMB as missionaries to Hong Kong. After transferring to the Pacific Rim in 1994, the Hales moved to their current post in 1999, answering God’s call to Mexico. There Hale shared the role of regional prayer advocate with fellow IMB missionary and friend Charlotte Davis.

“She had a very gracious spirit, a loving countenance, always, even during the time of her illness,” Davis said. “She was a woman of prayer, and even though she was limited physically because of her illness, nothing could ever limit her heart in her desire to pray. Even to the end she was thinking prayer -– that never faltered. That was really her heart’s desire, that she could serve the Lord in that capacity just as long as life was given to her on earth.”

Carolyn’s funeral was April 25 at First Baptist Church in Camden, Tenn. In addition to her husband, survivors include their two grown children, Geoffrey and Catherine Martin, and one grandchild.

Memorials in Hale’s name may be made to the International Mission Board, c/o IMB Development Office, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230-0767 or online at imb.org/giving, and or to the ALS Association of West Tennessee, P.O. Box 40244, Nashville, TN 37204.

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  • Don Graham