In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Michael J. Ledbetter, 90

Michael J. Ledbetter, 1930-2020

Michael J. Ledbetter, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the American Affinity Peoples in Guatemala and Mexico, died Oct. 17, 2020. He was 90.

Ledbetter was born on April 25, 1930, in Asheville, North Carolina, the only child of the late Horace and Lillian Michael Ledbetter. Michael attended Bob Jones University for a year and a half before joining the United States Air Force during the Korean Conflict. Afterwards he attended Gardner-Webb College (now University), Boiling Springs, North Carolina; received the Bachelor of Arts from Carson-Newman College (now University), Jefferson City, Tennessee, and received the Bachelor of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina.

One summer while in seminary, he met Ethel Trivette of Winston-Salem, N.C., who was home on furlough after serving five years in Costa Rica with a mission organization focused on Latin America. They were married in 1958.

Michael was pastor of Stokesland Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, for five years. He wrote when seeking missionary appointment, that he had not considered missionary service until he heard a missionary from the Philippines speak at Stokesland. “It was then that I realized that I had not been willing to go. After much prayer and consideration, I committed my life and the lives of my family into the care and keeping of the Lord. I recognized that true safety is found in the center of God’s will, no matter where that is.”

In December 1962, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Ledbetters as missionaries. They served about 30 years in Guatemala and Mexico. For 10 years, Michael was chaplain in the Mexican American Hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico as well as a church planter.

After retirement, the Ledbetters moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where they have been active members of Community Church.

Ledbetter is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ethel; his son David of Phoenix, Arizona; his daughter, Jeanie Patterson (Jim) of Roanoke10 grandchildren; and several great grandchildren.

A funeral service was held on Oct. 31, 2020, at Oakey’s South Chapel, Roanoke, with burial following in Sherwood Memorial Park.

Read an obituary here.