In memoriam: Missionary emeritus James Edwin Horton, 85

James Edwin Horton, 1936-2021
IMB Photo

James Edwin Horton, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Kenya and Belgium, died Dec. 17, 2021. He was 85.

Horton was born Sept. 19, 1936, in Tupelo, Oklahoma, to the late Ellis and Lorene Horton. He graduated from Stonewall (Oklahoma) High School. He received the Bachelor of Science in Education from East Central State College (now East Central University), Ada, Oklahoma, and the Master of Science from New Mexico Highlands University, Last Vegas.

While visiting East Central University after he graduated, Ed met Mary Frances Gale. They were married Jan. 28, 1961.

Horton wrote when seeking missionary appointment that he had little exposure to Christianity as a child. But at age 14, the second time he had been in a church worship service, “I was confronted with the issue of what to do about Jesus.” After the Holy Spirit dealt with him throughout the service, he wrote, the preacher finished preaching, walked straight to him and said, “Boy, do you want to be saved?” Horton’s answer was an unqualified yes. Before the service ended, his parents, brother and sister had also professed faith in Christ. “We were completely changed after that glorious evening,” he wrote.

Horton said he never turned from his commitment to Christ, but he did struggle over the years with making him Lord of his life and following God’s call to preach. He taught in public schools in Colorado and Oklahoma; was a math and physics instructor at Murray State College, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, and was a graduate assistant at University of Oklahoma, Norman. He worked as a senior mathematician for an oil company in Texas, and as business manager for the public school system in Rocky Ford, Colorado. He also served as interim pastor of two churches.

In 1973, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Ed and Mary Horton missionaries to East Africa. In Kenya, Ed taught math and physics and later served as principal at Mombasa Baptist High School. He also trained local pastors and helped equip them to minister to their people. He also served as pastor of Parklands Baptist Church in Nairobi.

After serving 21 years in Kenya, the Hortons moved to Antwerp, Belgium, where he was pastor of a church for internationals for five years.

After missionary retirement, the Hortons, moved to Oklahoma City, where he was pastor of Shields Boulevard Baptist Church for four years. They then moved to Wylie, Texas, where Ed worked at an assisted living center on Sunday mornings for 10 years.

Horton was preceded in death by his daughter Lorrie Gale Colbert. He is survived by Mary, his wife of 59 years; his son Jay Ellis Horton and his wife; his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Read an obituary here.