In memoriam: Missionary emeritus John Marvin Leech, 82

John Marvin Leech, 1939-2022. IMB Photo

John Marvin Leech, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Indonesia, died June 16, 2022. He was 82.

Leech was born October 7, 1939, in Abilene, Texas, to the late Marvin Burton and Helen Elizabeth Leech. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and received the Bachelor of Divinity and the Doctor of Theology from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

During his sophomore year at Hardin-Simmons, Leech served as the pastor of North Roby Baptist Church in Rotan, Texas. In the summer of 1960, Leech served as a summer missionary in Hawaii. While studying at Southwestern, Leech pastored Indian Creek Baptist Church in Fort Worth and sold Bibles for the Southwestern Company. He also served as the pastor of Elbert Baptist Church in Elbert, Texas. In 1966, Marvin married Linda Lowe.

Missions was woven into the fabric of Marvin’s childhood. Marvin’s parents served with the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) as missionaries to the Sacaton, Pawnee and Quapaw living in Arizona and Oklahoma. When seeking missionary employment, Marvin wrote that the Pawnee Royal Ambassadors (RA) cultivated in him a Christian consciousness. Marvin recalled how he experienced the unity of Christ among his Native American friends.

Through the preaching of his father and the influence of Pawnee Christian leaders, Marvin committed his life to full-time missions.

In 1969, the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) appointed Marvin and Linda to serve in Indonesia as theological educators.

The Leeches attended language school in Bandung, Indonesia, and soon began teaching at the Indonesian Baptist Theological Seminary in the city of Semarang.

From 1975 to 1991, the Leeches worked alongside the former vice president of the IMB, Avery Willis, and author and IMB missionary emeritus Catherine Walker to develop leadership training materials, including Masterlife, a comprehensive discipleship program for Christian leaders.

Marvin and Linda helped start a Baptist Bible school in Bengkulu, Sumatra. They worked with Indonesian believers to serve the 18 million Javanese living on the north coast. The Leeches also researched unreached people groups spread across the Indonesian archipelago. The couple produced people group profiles to be used by church and mission agencies.

The Leeches served for 34 years before retiring.

Before his passing, Marvin gave a final request to his family. “Tell the story, tell the story, tell the story. Please,” Marvin implored.

Marvin’s passion for telling God’s story was evident in the more than 25 years he spent developing discipleship materials for Indonesian Christians.

Indonesian Christians recorded video tributes that were played during Marvin’s memorial service.

Marvin is survived by Linda, his wife of 55 years; his brothers, Tim, Carey, and Jimmy; his children, Kyle (Jill), Kim (Trey), and Keith (Katy); and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service was held on June 25, 2022, at the Church of God in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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

Read an obituary here.

A video of Marvin’s memorial service can be viewed here: