In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Margaret Fairburn, 86

Margaret Fairburn, 1933-2020

Margaret Laurine Fairburn, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, died June 15, 2020, at Asbury Hospice House in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She was 86.

Fairburn was born on Oct. 30, 1933, in Walthall County, Miss., to the late Ben Frank and Leola Jenkins Fairburn. She graduated from Lexie High School in Tylertown, Mississippi.

Almost immediately after she accepted Christ as her Savior at age 12, Fairburn wrote when seeking missionary appointment, she began to feel God wanted her as a missionary in Africa. Although she didn’t know how she would pay for college and seminary, she wrote, “I was sure of my call and had no doubt that God would make a way.”

She received the Associate of Arts from Clarke Memorial College, Newton, Miss. (now part of Mississippi College); the Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi College, Clinton; the Master of Religious Education from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary, Ontario, Calif.); and the Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.

Fairburn served as director of missions programs for young women for the Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union of Oklahoma from 1961 to 1963 before the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed her a missionary to the West African country of Liberia in summer 1963.

For more than 30 years, Fairburn served as a missionary in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. During her first 18 years, she worked with Liberian youth organizing missions programs for girls and boys. She later moved to new work in Liberia as an evangelist and church planter. She continued this until she relocated to Cote d’Ivoire to work with Liberian refugees fleeing the First Liberian Civil War in 1991.

After retiring from the mission field in 1996, Miss Fairburn returned to Mississippi, where she worked as a dormitory and dining hall hostess at Blue Mountain (Miss.)  College. She retired to the Lexie community in 2002.

Fairburn was a member of Lexie Baptist Church, Tylertown, where she taught Sunday school and served on various committees.

She is survived by her sister, Marie Pope, and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held on June 18, 2020, at Lexie Baptist Church, with burial at Centerville Cemetery.

Read an obituary here.