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SBC DIGEST: Emeritus Korea missionary Don Jones dies; 2nd WMU grant made for Tenn. wildfire relief

Don Jones, 36 years a missionary to Korea, dies

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (BP) — Don Jones, an emeritus Southern Baptist missionary who served in South Korea for 36 years, died April 9 after suffering a head injury in a fall two days earlier. He was 88.

Jones was preceded in death by his wife Nita in 2004 and is survived by their two children, Libba and Preston, and their families. A funeral service will be Saturday, May 6, at 10 a.m. at Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Jones was among 15 emeritus missionaries to Korea between the 1950s and 1990s who returned to South Korea for the 60th anniversary of Southern Baptist work there in 2010.

“Don Jones is our best friend and our honoring missionary,” said Danny Lee, pastor of Global Vision Baptist Church in Busan. “He gave Korean people a lot of help and Christian love when he was in Korea. I personally respect him and love him very much. He is really a great missionary and a Christian.”

The retired missionaries, in returning to Korea, preached in many of the churches and the seminary where they saw the fruit of their labor in years past.

“After being away for 17 years, God gave me good fluency in preaching yesterday morning,” Jones shared in a Facebook post after one of his sermons. “It was a blessed experience.”

Among the highlights for Jones during his service in Korea was the 1973 Billy Graham crusade that drew an estimated 3.2 million people over the span of five days. A newly installed citywide loudspeaker system projected Graham’s messages through an interpreter as he stood atop a 50-foot platform from which officials typically viewed military parades.

Graham’s ministry, Jones said at the time, is “more than just an organization. It’s God’s gift” akin to other evangelists in Christian history such as John Wesley, George Whitefield and Dwight L. Moody.

“Evangelists function a little like the prophets of the Old Testament. I think God’s going to keep providing them,” Jones said.

Before his appointment as a missionary, Jones had been to Korea while in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. For two years he resisted the call to missions, though his wife Nita was certain of that destiny early on. The couple studied Bible and music at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, and he subsequently graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth with a bachelor of divinity degree in 1956. He also earned two other degrees at Southwestern, a master’s in religious education in 1969 and a doctor of ministry in 1979.

The Joneses were appointed as missionaries in 1956, studied the Korean language stateside, then deployed in 1957. He taught at the Korea Baptist Theological Seminary, served as mission treasurer, led publication and religious education promotion work for 10 years, served as the mission planner another 10 years and mission administrator for six years, finishing his tenure as evangelism coordinator before retiring to Grand Prairie.

An active member of Inglewood Baptist after retiring, Jones served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher and choir member. He volunteered as an ESL teacher, supported the local Pregnancy Resource Center, traveled with the Singing Men of Texas and participated in many overseas mission trips.

Jones described himself as “a person of quite ordinary Oklahoma and Texas background who was blessed to be born in a Christian home, to find Christ early and to have stumbled into the glorious adventure of saying, ‘Yes,’ to the call of God to missions in Korea, where we served for 36 years.”


2nd WMU grant to support Smoky Mountain fire victims

By Carrie McWhorter

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — As the Smoky Mountain resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge continue to recover from last year’s devastating wildfires, a second $5,000 HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund grant from the national Woman’s Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation will assist workers struggling due to the decline in tourism.

The wildfires that swept through the Smoky Mountain region in late November and early December came at the beginning of the busy Christmas season. As a result, many who make their living in arts and crafts, service, retail and other tourism-related enterprises lost their homes and jobs.

The needs of these workers are still great, said Vickie Anderson, executive director of Tennessee WMU.

“The decline in tourism is causing reduced hours, layoffs and loss of jobs. Also, a lower-income housing shortage in Gatlinburg has gotten worse since the wildfires, which means that many workers are having to relocate to Pigeon Forge and beyond,” Anderson said.

Many of the workers did not have cars because they could walk to work from their homes in Gatlinburg. Others lost their cars in the fires. The lack of reliable transportation coupled with the housing shortage has resulted in increased homelessness in the area.

“The homeless population is growing because monthly costs in housing and transportation are increasing drastically for so many,” Anderson said.

Those most affected are people who work in hotels, restaurants, entertainment attractions and shops. Gatlinburg businesses employ many temporary and international guest workers who are ineligible for other forms of assistance.

The HEART Fund grant will be distributed through Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries to help workers with transportation, housing and transitional needs as they rebuild their lives after the fires. As “boots on the ground” in Gatlinburg, SMRM personnel are ministering through the relationships they have developed through years of faithful service, Anderson said.

A $5,000 HEART Fund grant awarded in December 2016 allowed SMRM volunteers to give out gift cards to help fire victims with immediate needs. However, relief funds have slowed dramatically since the beginning of the year, SMRM director Bill Black said.

“Our income has almost stopped in terms of money for helping those affected by the fires, but the needs have not stopped,” Black said. “We remain deep in this holy and painfully beautiful fire ministry.”

The HEART Fund was created in response to Sept. 11, 2001. Grants allow Christians to provide relief and rebuilding assistance as they minister to disaster victims in the United States and around the world.

The WMU Foundation is accepting donations to the HEART Fund for disaster relief online at wmufoundation.com or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.

    About the Author

  • Southern Baptist TEXAN, WMU & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Tammi Reed Ledbetter of the Southern Baptist TEXAN and Carrie McWhorter of Woman’s Missionary Union.

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