In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Warren Ivy Harris, 86

Warren Ivy Harris, 1935-2022. IMB Photo

Warren Ivy Harris, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Peru and Uruguay, died Aug. 22, 2022. He was 85. 

Harris was born Nov. 4, 1935, in McComb, Tennessee, to the late James Frank Harris and Stella Tycer Harris. He graduated with an associate degree Southwest Mississippi Junior College in Summit, Michigan; and received the Bachelor of Science from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana, and the Master of Science from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and took classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  

Harris married Ruth Elaine Cobble on Aug. 15, 1959. Harris taught in public schools in Michigan. Before his appointment, the Harrises served on a short-term assignment in Peru with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board).  

In 1989, the FMB appointed Warren and Ruth as missionaries to Peru. The Harrises served during cholera outbreaks, domestic terrorism, governmental instability and spiritual warfare due to witchcraft.  

Their role in Peru was to serve as teachers to missionary kids. Harris also ministered through English language evangelism. Additionally, the Harrises were involved in Spanish language Bible studies. 

Harris used the Bible to teach English. He helped run an English language library in Chiclayo, the city where they served. The English library spurred interest in English classes and gave an opportunity for Harris to share the gospel. Students committed their lives to Christ through his witness. 

Harris also made connections in the medical community and spent time building relationships and sharing the gospel with doctors in a hospital. Volunteer medical teams came to partner with Harris and made further ministry possible. 

In newsletters sent to family members and churches, Warren and Ruth shared individual stories of those they were investing in, with their names and prayer requests. They wrote often of one woman they led to Christ who left a cult to follow Christ. Their newsletter recounted how the woman went on to teach others, including 39 boys in a home for abandoned children.  

Another student who heard the gospel through the Harrises told them, “I used to be afraid to read the Bible — now it is my food.”  

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ruth; and daughter Beth Anne McMahon (Terry) of Maryville, Tennessee. 

A funeral service was held on Aug. 25 at Monte Vista Baptist Church in Maryville, Tennessee. After the service, family and friends attended an ice cream social in his memory.  

Read an obituary here.