In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Francis “Frank” Lewis, 98

Francis “Frank” Lewis, 1924-2022
IMB Photo

Francis “Frank” Lewis, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Indonesia, died May 18, 2022. He was 97.

Lewis was born on Oct. 30, 1924, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, to the late Charles Doris Lewis and Eula Cole Lewis. He graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1943. Lewis enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University, however, World War II continued to rage. Lewis enlisted in the military and attended midshipman training at Notre Dame and officer training school in the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Milligan College in Milligan, Tennessee.

He served in the Navy as a commissioned officer in the Pacific until the end of World War II. Lewis continued to serve as a Navy reservist after his discharge from active service in June 1946.

Lewis graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and a Doctor of Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas.

In 1949, Lewis began serving as the minister of music and education at Central Baptist Church in Lawton, Oklahoma. He wrote that he saw a zeal for missions at SWBTS, but it wasn’t until Central Baptist Church’s Lottie Moon Offering Sunday that he surrendered his life to missions.

On February 10, 1956, Lewis married Beverly Lucyle Lewis. The couple moved to California after Frank accepted a position as the pastor of University Baptist Church in Oakland, California.

In 1959, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed Frank and Beverly as missionaries to Indonesia where they served for 30 years. He served in many capacities at the Indonesian Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) in Semarang on the island of Java, Indonesia. He served as a professor, missions chairman and academic dean. He was also involved in music ministry at IBTS and directed vocal and handbell choirs and dramas. He mentored young ministers who went on to serve across Indonesia.

Lewis remained connected to his Indonesian students. He was described as “truly loved by the Indonesian people and faithfully gave himself to serve them in the name of Christ.”

After retiring from the IMB, Lewis joined the staff of First Baptist Church (FBC) Okmulgee, his childhood church that played a foundational role in his walk with Christ and journey to ministry. His passion for music remained, and he was a member of the choir at FBC.

Lewis highly valued local church involvement, as it had shaped him as a child, nurtured him as an adult, gave him a forum to invest in others and led him to the mission field.

“As the story of my life has felt the continued channeling of a local Baptist church, I have the keen desire to be used to establish New Testament Baptist churches in Indonesia that young people in the years ahead may look back at the rich contribution of the church to their lives. Surely the rich heritage that has been mine is needed in the life of young people about the world,” Lewis wrote when seeking missionary appointment.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Beverly, of 60 years.

He is survived by his four children: Rebecca Lewis, Lisa Lewis Jones (Mark), Anna Lewis Rogers (John), and Peter Lewis (Becky); eight grandsons; and one great-grandson.

A memorial was held June 4 at First Baptist Church Okmulgee.

Donations in his memory may be made to the International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity.

Read an obituary here.