In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Charles Otis Bradshaw, 90

Charles Otis Bradshaw, 1932-2022. IMB Photo

Charles Otis Bradshaw, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Norway, Greece and Austria, died Sept. 14, 2022. He was 90. 

Charles was born on April 12, 1932, in Bolivar, Missouri, to the late Otis and Bethel Huckaby Bradshaw. He received the Associate of Arts degree from Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas; the Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas; the Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Theology and the Doctor of Ministry from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California. 

Charles married Louise Harris on Aug. 16, 1953. He served in the Army in Germany for two years. He pastored Trinity Baptist Church in Vacaville, California, and Immanuel Baptist Church in Antioch, California. 

As a teenager, Charles felt the Lord calling him to preach. This calling led him to study at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary in Ontario, California). Charles wrote when seeking missionary appointment that their lives were intertwined with their church members at Immanuel Baptist Church, but he and Louise sensed the Lord calling them to serve overseas.  

In 1986, the Bradshaws were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) to serve as missionaries in Norway. They later served in Greece and Austria.  

Charles was appointed to serve as the pastor of the English-speaking church, North Sea Baptist Church in Stavanger, Norway. The congregation had roughly 200 members, most of whom were Americans employed by oil companies operating in the oil fields in the oil fields of the North Sea. The oil employees were mostly young families who largely worked three-year contracts.  

In Athens, Greece, Charles also pastored an English-speaking church. The Bradshaw came to serve just as the American Air Base in Athens closed, and the church’s attendance was dwindling due to personnel moving, terrorist attacks and uncertainty of the future of the church. 

The Bradshaws advertised for the church in English-language publications and distributed brochures in 60 hotels. In eight months, Charles saw church attendance increase — moving from less than 12 people attending Sunday-morning worship to 40 to 50. The largest ethnic group in their church was Filipino. In a newsletter, Charles wrote they baptized four adults, two of whom were from Sri Lanka.  

“When they return to their homeland eventually, they will be missionaries!” Charles wrote in a newsletter.  

The Bradshaws transferred to Vienna, Austria, for Charles to pastor Vienna Baptist Church after their residence permit for Greece was denied. Leaving Greece was difficult, but Charles said serving church members was a rewarding relationship. 

“I will leave with a sense of accomplishment because of our awareness of people whose lives were affected by our influence and ministry. We were able to shape the spiritual lives of many who are younger than we are – on a level deeper than that of pastor to people because we became surrogate parents to them. Aliens in a foreign land and separated from their families, they turned to us and the church for comfort, companionship, nurture and support,” Charles wrote. 

Vienna Baptist Church had members representing 30 countries.  

“From the standpoint of mission work, we have the advantage of the world coming to us. Most of the people whose lives we touch are here for a short time. We affect the witness they give when they return to their homelands,” Charles wrote. 

He is preceded in death by his wife of more than 63 years, Louise; son, Timothy Bradshaw; and grandson, Timothy James.  

Charles is survived by his daughter, Cheryl Nunn (Brian); sons Charles (Leslie) and Chris (Laurie); daughter-in-law Rhonda Mahoney (Timothy, Michael); 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. 

A celebration of life service was held on Oct. 29 at First Family Church in Antioch, California. 

Read an obituary here.