ROME, Ga. (BP)–Wendell Belew, 77, a noted Southern Baptist missiologist and retired director of the Missions Ministries Division of the former Home Mission Board, died March 8 in a Georgia hospital.
He had been hospitalized following injuries received in an automobile accident in Rome Feb. 24. His wife, the former Edna Record, sustained minor injuries in the accident.
Belew served with the HMB, now North American Mission Board, for 37 years before his retirement in 1988. A Kentucky native and Rome resident, he began his ministry with the agency as director of Mountain Missions with the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 1951.
For years Belew was a regular speaker at national Woman’s Missionary Union and Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings, sharing firsthand stories of missions needs met, especially in the rural, forgotten areas of his native Kentucky.
His storytelling skills gave insight to the needs encountered on the field and how Southern Baptists were meeting the needs through sacrificial giving.
He authored the popular “The Dark’s A-Creepin,” a 1965 mission study book on home missions which was later expanded and published by Broadman Press in 1979; “Song of Hawaii,” a 1969 book on home missions; and “Churches and How They Grow,” published by Broadman Press in 1971. He also authored several other articles and books for Woman’s Missionary Union, the Home Mission Board, and the former Brotherhood Commission.
He was the recipient of the 44th million copy of “Good News for Modern Man” in recognition of having instigated the American Bible Society to produce an easy-to-understand translation called “Today’s English Version” that was a breakthrough in Bible publishing.
He is survived by his wife, Edna; and three children. Services were at Second Avenue Baptist Church in Rome with burial in Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg, Ky.