CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP)–Before the sun rose in Moscow on Monday, July 28, Teri Tarleton went to be with her Lord. Her son Adam and her oldest daughter Anna were away at college in the States. Her twin daughters Rachel and Rebecca were away at camp.
Shortly after 5 a.m. she began to have breathing difficulty, but before the emergency people could arrive, with husband Ed by her side, Teri left her modest apartment and entered a mansion prepared by the hands of her Lord Jesus.
Teri and her husband Ed had co-labored among the Russian people for nearly 15 years. Ed is the leader for International Mission Board work in Russia. Over the last six years, it has been my pleasure to work with them in a number of mission projects across the Russian Federation.
The first time my wife and I met Teri was at a retreat for the leaders of the Russian Baptist Union and their families at Sochi on the rocky shores of the Black Sea. She helped lead a conference for the wives and was moved to tears as the women prayed for their husbands. The men spent many days away from home, much like many denominational leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention. Teri sang in Russian for the worship service on Sunday, touching the hearts of Russians and Americans alike with her love for the Lord.
The last time I saw Teri and Ed was in their home 14 months ago when they invited me to their apartment for a meal. They were in the fourth week of a 40-day fast, praying and fasting for the Russian people, so they did not eat, but provided a delicious meal for me and their girls. They had not wanted me to know about the fast and would probably not approve of my telling you about it, but Southern Baptists need to know the depth of love their missionaries have for the people they serve.
Teri was a lady of grace and a lover of God. We often use the phrase “a man of God” — which certainly describes Ed. However, the same term accurately describes Teri -– “a godly lady.”
Teri was the epitome of a missionary, not just a missionary wife. She was a partner with Ed in every way. She loved the Russian people as an extended part of her family. Teri and Ed rarely came back to the States during their tenure; they did not want to be away from their people -– for the Russians were their people.
We will all miss her greatly. We grieve with Ed and the children, but we grieve also for the Russian people, for they have lost a great friend. Their love was displayed in a fitting memorial service for Teri the night before Ed brought her body back to America. In the sanctuary of the historic Central Baptist Church in Moscow, the Russian Baptist leaders, the pastors and lay people gathered to say “thank you” and “goodbye” to this lady who had touched their lives with her love and her life.
Please keep Ed and the children in your prayers and — as Teri might urge — pray for yourself to see if God might be touching your life with His call. Perhaps you will join that great host of Southern Baptist missionaries who are reaching people for Jesus in Russia and around the world.
Jere Phillips is professor of practical theology at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn.