In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Sarah Snell, 87

Sarah SnellSarah Mildred Brooks Snell, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among Southeast Asian people for 27 years, died July 7, 2019, in Thomasville, N.C. She was 87.

Snell was born on May 9, 1932, in Lowell, N.C. In 1946, “at a Girls’ Auxiliary Retreat at Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, North Carolina, I was both inspired and challenged by the total commitment to Christ of our missionary speakers, and during the life commitment service I felt led to surrender my life to serve him in whatever way he led,” she wrote in her application for missionary service. “From that experience on, the Lord has continued to lay on my heart my responsibility to share the gospel with others, even to the utterwost part of the world.”

Because she was valedictorian of her graduating class at Lincolnton (N.C.) High School, “because of an interest in public speaking that led me to win several oratorical contests, and because of the concern of some Christian friends,” she was able to attend Wake Forest University. “Here I studied, worked, and worshipped until graduation in 1953,” she wrote, adding, “One of my greatest joys came from going out to nearby churches on weekend revival teams to sing, to give my testimony, and to teach.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree at Wake Forest University and a master’s degree at Furman University. She also attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

She married Roy Snell on Dec. 18, 1954. They were appointed as IMB missionaries on July 18, 1963. They served in Korea, Indonesia, and Guam.

“How grateful we are to you who’ve just participated in the Week of Prayer and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which in itself will help keep the joy of Christmas ringing around the world through the New Year,” the Snells wrote in a 1966 missionary newsletter from Korea. “You see, I’m thinking about a church near us whose mud-brick building is just literally washing away. Your gifts will help to make possible a cement block building — that church is the only Christian witness in that village.”

Snell continued to share the gospel overseas until her retirement from the IMB in 1991. She continued her ministry and graduated from Wake Forest Baptist Pastoral Care training with the United Church of Christ. She served as visitation minister at Zion UCC, and served at Mount Tabor UCC and New Friendship UCC.

Interment is at the columbarium at First Baptist Church, Lexington, N.C., with a private memorial service for family.

Read an online obituary here.

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is a registered trademark of Woman’s Missionary Union.