Notable Missionary Deaths in 2020

C. Gordon Olson    January 24,1930 – January 30, 2020

Gordon Olson was the author of the well-known mission text, What In The World Is God Doing? widely used in schools since 1990. After majoring in theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, Gordon and his wife became missionaries to Pakistan. He founded the Pakistan Fellowship of Evangelical Students (1956), and ministered in Urdu among indigenous Brethren assemblies. He became Professor of Theology and Missions at Northeastern Bible College (1967-90), a board trustee of Christar (1968-2004), served in Baptist pastorates in New Jersey and New York City, and was the “Bible Answer Man” on WRME for decades. He received his Doctorate in Missiology from Trinity International University.  Most recently he was a Bible and missions conference speaker, as well as an adjunct professor at Liberty University.

Dr. Edith Blumhofer     April 24, 1950 – March 5, 2020

Edith Lydia Blumhofer, professor at Wheaton College and President of Overseas Missionary Study Center’s (OMSC) Trustees, died on March 5 after battling pancreatic cancer with faith and courage for three-and-a-half years. Edith joined the OMSC Board of Trustees in December 2009 and was elected president in June 2014. She served as president until her death, offering OMSC a steady hand as the board faced momentous decisions, including recently moving OMSC to the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary.

William “Bill” Mills      July 14, 1944 – May 8, 2020

Bill Mills along with his wife Karen founded Leadership Resources International (LRI) (a Missio Nexus member) in 1970. LRI started a new strategy in 2001 with the name: “Training National Trainers” (TNT). As the TNT ministry expanded and matured over the next fifteen years, under Bill’s steady leadership, so did the ministry model. God had already used TNT to encourage and equip many pastor-trainers in dozens of countries, going deeper in equipping a few of the godly and gifted trainers to lead movements of training in their countries and beyond. The Mentor Trainer model was born. And by the year 2019, 224 Mentor Trainers were helping lead 629 training groups in 60 countries.

  • Joyce Lin    1979 – May 12, 2020

Joyce Lin, a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), died in a plane crash in Indonesia May 12. She was piloting an MAF Kodiak aircraft while responding to the needs of the remote village of Mamit in the Papua highlands, with cargo on the plane included COVID-19 rapid test kits for the local clinic. Within minutes of takeoff, she reported an emergency and the aircraft descended into Lake Sentani.

Lin was an experienced pilot and a certified flight instructor. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Lin had planned and trained to become a missionary pilot for a decade. She moved to Papua in 2019. After earning a degree in computer science from MIT and working in IT for a decade, Lin felt called to ministry. At Gordon-Conwell, she discovered missionary aviation: a job that combined her interests in flying, her computer skills, and her call to Christian service.

Dr. David J. Cho        Dec. 19, 1924 – June 19, 2020

One of the most accomplished mission leaders of our lifetime died in 2020, and while few in the West noticed his passing, we at Missio Nexus pause to honor his life. Missionary statesman, Dr. David J. Cho, “Mr. Mission”, peacefully went to be with the Lord at his home in South Korea on June 19, 2020. Dr. Cho served as founder of Korea International Mission (KIM), East-West Center for Missions Research and Development, Asia Missions Association (AMA), Third World Missions Association (TWMA), and World-Link University.

Cho led the missionary movement of non-Western churches. More than 2,000 senior Korean missionaries and local church pastors in Korea and around the world received missionary training from him at the East-West Center. He also helped to found the Asian Missiological Society, and the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.

John Emery Kyle      July 7,1926 – September 24, 2020

Following service in the Pacific in WWII, John graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA in 1961 and spent the next three years in Hazard, Kentucky as the pastor of the Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church. While in Hazard, John and Lois felt the Lord’s call to missionary service and in 1965, sailed with their 4 children to Manila, Philippines to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators. In 1972 they returned to the United States and in 1973 John became the first coordinator of Mission to the World with the newly formed Presbyterian Church in America; 1973-1977 and 1988-1994. In 1979 John and Lois moved to Madison, Wisconsin where he served as a Vice President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and as the Missions Director; conducting several Urbana Mission Conventions. He served as an ambassador of world missions as the Senior Vice President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Missions Agencies, 1994-2005. During his retirement John continued his focus on world evangelization with the Senior Leadership Exchange and sat on various boards, including Transform World Connections and Proclaim Hope! Throughout his years of service John touched many lives as a strong voice for world missions.

Juan Stam      1928 – October 20, 2020

Juan Stam, a theologian who advocated for radical evangelicalism in Latin America died at the age of 92. A missionary to Costa Rica who once taught Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro about the Christian idea of apocalypse, Stam devoted his life to teaching the Bible, challenging both legalism and liberalism, and raising up and empowering local leaders. Stam’s ministry—whether teaching theology at the Latin American Biblical Seminary, ministering to Marxist revolutionaries and refugees, or defending the biblical idea that God intervenes into history—was always grounded in three convictions: a personal commitment to Christ as Lord, an incarnational model for life and mission, and a love of the Bible and “radical seriousness in its interpretation.”

Stam and his wife, Doris, moved to Costa Rica as missionaries in 1954. They landed in rural Santa Cruz, where they could work on their language skills, learn to live in Latin America, and gain experience in a local church before moving to teach at the seminary in San José. By the 1960s, Stam was accepting invitations to speak across Latin America, frequently on the topic of “Christ and Marx,” where he surveyed the ways contemporary theologians addressed social justice issues.

John Haggai    February 27, 1924 – November 18, 2020

John Edmund Haggai, a preacher, revivalist and mission enthusiast who saw the need to equip Christians around the world to evangelize their own countries, died at age 96. He is known for challenging people to “attempt something so great for God, it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it.” Although international circumstances prevented him from fulfilling his dream of becoming a missionary to China, he founded Haggai Institute for Advanced Leadership, moved it to Singapore, and trained more than 120,000 evangelists from non-Western countries, including 1,200 from Indonesia, 400 from the Philippines, 500 from India, 400 from Nigeria, and 380 from Brazil. He argued this was the best new strategy for global missions after the end of Western colonialism. Haggai was a prolific author. His book, How to Win Over Worry, has sold millions, as has Be Careful What You Call Impossible.


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