In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Mabelee W. Terry, 81

Mabelee Terry, 1939-2020

Mabelee W. Terry, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Southeast Asian Affinity Peoples in the Philippines and Singapore, died July 11, 2020, at home in Fort Worth, Texas. She was 81.

Terry was born in 1939 to the late Loren Lee and Mabel Marie McKinney Worthen in Fordyce, Arkansas. She graduated from Baton Rouge (La.) High School and received the Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. She married J.O. Terry in 1959.

Terry wrote when seeking missionary appointment that her awareness of missions began with involvement in Woman’s Missionary Union at Travis Avenue Baptist Church, where they were members while J.O. attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth.

“My heart became burdened for the world and its people,” she wrote.

She and J.O. made a public commitment to foreign missions in 1963, and their conviction grew as he worked at the Southern Baptist Radio-Television Commission, Fort Worth.

In 1968, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed J.O. and Mabelee to serve in broadcast media work in the Philippines, an extension of the work J.O. had done at the Radio-Television Commission.

After 15 years of successful media production in Manila, J.O. and Mabelee relocated to Singapore for greater access to South Asia. But while Mabelee served as a trusted business manager in the FMB’s Singapore office, J.O. realized his work wasn’t as helpful as he had thought. He learned that the work he was doing couldn’t be reproduced by the people he had come to serve.

Over the next decade, J.O. and some of his FMB colleagues, especially Jim Slack, explored different methods of sharing the gospel with oral learners. In 1991, Chronological Bible Storying was adapted for use in South and Southeast Asia. Later the approach spread, and Southern Baptist missionaries throughout the Americas and Africa learned to use storying methods to share the stories from creation to Christ.

Terry is survived by her husband of almost 61 years, J.O. Terry; children, Jay, Jill and Jeff; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a sister, Marchita Walters.

A memorial service was to be held later.

Read an obituary here.