In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Emma Jean Barker, 92

Emma Jean Barker, 1928-2020

Emma Jean Archer Barker, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among East Asian Affinity Peoples in Taiwan and Hong Kong, died Nov. 6, 2020, at The Baptist Home in Ozark, Missouri. She was 92.

Barker was born Jan. 23, 1928, in Mountain Grove, Missouri, to the late Willie James and Marie Mover Archer. She received a nursing degree at Washington University School of Nursing, Saint Louis, Missouri, and was a registered nurse. She also received the Bachelor of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

Barker married Herbert Ward Barker, who had surrendered his life to ministry, in 1951. She worked as a staff nurse at hospitals in Springfield, Missouri, and then in Fort Worth, Texas, while she and Herb attended seminary.

Emma served in various church roles while in seminary and while Herb was on staff at various churches, including churches near Denton and in Rochester, Texas, where he was pastor.

Barker wrote when seeking missionary appointment that while Herb attended a World Missions Conference in 1959, she thought to herself, “What if the Lord would call him to be a missionary, would I be willing to go?”

When Herb returned home, she wrote, “I could tell by the look on his face that he had made some decision.” They talked and prayed and agreed that God was calling them to serve overseas.

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Barkers as missionaries to Taiwan in 1959. They served more than 30 years in Taipei, Chiayi and Hualien. While raising her family and working in the church, Emma also and provided hospitality to new missionaries and mission visitors and helped orient new missionaries. As a nurse she helped explain medical issues to fellow missionaries. In the Barkers’ last assignment in Huilien, she and Herb worked together in starting a church.

Following their retirement in 1993, Herb and Emma continued to serve in volunteer assignments with Chinese Christians in Paris, France; Singapore; American Samoa; Myanmar; Hong Kong; and China. As long as they were able, Herb and Emma were active members of First Baptist Church of Springfield.

Barker was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Herb. She is survived by her son, Jim Barker (Nancy); her daughter, Jeanette Barker; and by one grandson.

A family graveside service was held Nov. 12, 2020, at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Mountain Grove, Missouri.

Read her obituary here.