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Retired missionary Edgar Hallock dies; hailed as ‘monument of faith and love’

NORMAN, Okla. (BP)–Retired Southern Baptist missionary Edgar F. Hallock Jr., who helped deliver the gospel to millions of Brazilians through evangelistic campaigns, teaching and Bible printing, died June 8, 2001, in Norman, Okla., following a heart attack. He was 84.

Hallock and his wife, Zelma, were appointed missionaries to Brazil in 1941 by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. They spent the next 45 years working to spread the message of Christ nationwide — and worldwide — from their base in Rio de Janeiro.

Hallock possessed extraordinary energy. He led Brazilian Baptists’ Sunday school program for three decades. For nearly 20 years he was executive secretary of their Sunday School Board, which promotes religious education and prints Christian books, tracts, music and other materials for Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking world.

He also taught thousands of Baptist students as a seminary professor, spearheaded theological education by extension to train pastors and leaders throughout the country, directed the Brazilian Bible Press, preached, served as pastor in multiple churches and held many other leadership posts during his missionary career.

One of his proudest moments:

“He was there when the first page of [the first entire] Bible was printed in Portuguese in 1944; he saw it come off the press,” recalled his son, Eddy, also a Southern Baptist missionary in Brazil. “His dream was for there to be a million Bibles a year printed in Brazil, and they came very close to that.”

Hallock also coordinated a watershed event in the history of Latin American evangelism: the 1960 Baptist World Congress in Rio, which saw Billy Graham preach to nearly 200,000 people at the closing service. He helped organize many other national and continental evangelistic campaigns. Well past age 70, he coordinated the 1990 Baptist World Congress in Seoul, South Korea, where 10,000 people were baptized in the Han River, and the 1995 world congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Edgar was a man for all seasons, totally committed to Jesus Christ and his church,” said Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Denton Lotz. “He was a model for servant leadership and missionary obedience.”

Former BWA President Nilson Fanini, a Brazilian Baptist pastor and evangelist often called “the Billy Graham of Brazil,” paid tribute to Hallock in a message to his national radio audience:

“In this land, Edgar … developed a great and eternal work, which lives on after him. His heart was filled with love and a passion for lost souls. He gave his best always…. We praise God for Edgar’s life. We thank [God] because this missionary’s story started in God’s heart. Around the world are thousands of friends, brothers and sisters in Christ who will respect his memory, because in their hearts was set an example: Edgar Hallock, monument of faith and love.”

Fanini’s wife, Helga, added this: “We have lost a friend. Oh God, give us an Edgar Hallock for the new generation.”

Beloved by the people of his adopted city, Hallock was named an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro.

The Hallocks retired as missionaries in 1986, but remained active in many pursuits. Last year Hallock published the results of his extensive research on the life of Joao Almeida, the first translator of the Bible into Portuguese. On the morning he died, he was preparing to help a student from Brazil attending Oklahoma Baptist University.

Two of the Hallocks’ four children followed in their footsteps as missionaries to Brazil: son Eddy and daughter Charla Greenhaw, both of whom still serve there. A grandson, Ben, is a Southern Baptist missionary assigned to the Caribbean.

The masses of people without Christ in the world preoccupied Hallock. Even as Southern Baptists made major advances in missions in the 1950s and ’60s, he was concerned that so many church members seemed to know so little about world needs.

“Ignorance breeds indifference, and indifference selfishness,” he wrote. His solution: intensive mission education in every church. “Southern Baptists can and will respond to a worthy challenge to go forward in foreign missions. Young people will answer the call to help. Baptists will give. They will do big things if given the chance.”

Born in Penfield, N.Y., Hallock grew up in Norman. His father, Edgar (“Preacher”) Hallock Sr., was a popular pastor and conference leader. The younger Hallock received the bachelor of arts degree from the University of Oklahoma in Norman and the master and doctor of religious education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He married the former Zelma Curnutt of Gould, Okla., in 1939.

Survivors include his wife, four children, two sisters, a brother, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Funeral services were scheduled for June 13 at First Baptist Church, Norman.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FAITH AND LOVE.

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  • Erich Bridges