In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Roby Lee Vest Taw, 60

Roby Lee Vest Taw, 1962-2022. IMB Photo.

Roby Lee Vest Taw, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in East Asia, died Sept. 29, 2022. She was 60. 

Roby was born on Jan. 23, 1962, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to the late Jack Douglas Vest and Ellen Roberta Snapp Vest. She received the Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, North Carolina, and a Master of Social Work from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.   

She taught mathematics at Calvary Baptist Day School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Roby also taught math at a school in East Asia on a special assignment with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board). She worked as a social worker for the Family Service Association in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Roby wrote in her letter seeking missionary appointment that she learned of missions and felt a call to missions in middle school but committed her life to Christ in high school when she and her mother attended a revival.  

A Christian mentor in college encouraged her to go on a mission trip to Spain. On that trip, Roby felt called to missions. She thought the Lord would call her to a Spanish-speaking country, but the Lord called her to East Asia.  

She wrote that she was amazed at how at home she felt in the city where she served. It was in this city that she met Raymond Kay Taw. They married in 1988. After their wedding, they moved back to the U.S. to care for Raymond’s mother. Roby finished her master’s in social work during this time.  

Roby and Ray studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, before their missionary appointment.  

In 1993, the Taws were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) to serve in East Asia.  

Roby served overseas for 31 years — more than half of her life. 

After retiring from missionary service, Roby served as the executive manager of Davie Pregnancy Care Center and was the development director at Life Forward, a pregnancy care center in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Those close to her said, “Her wisdom, counsel, and deep understanding of people allowed her to touch many lives on a profound level.” 

Zachary, one of Roby’s sons, wrote on her Caring Bridge site, “Roby died with her two sons holding each of her hands and the song “Give me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega quietly playing in the background with the words ‘When I come to die, give me Jesus’ ringing in her ears. I invite you to listen to that song with us, weep, grieve, and surrender your life to Jesus in the same radical way that Roby did this morning quite literally. I can’t say for sure, but somehow, I know in my heart that Roby would not want her death to simply be a time to remember her but would want it to create an opportunity for everyone who witnessed it whether with their own eyes or through an online post, to take their eyes off this world, even if only for a few seconds, and look to Jesus.” 

Roby is survived by her two sons, Matthew (Hannah) Taw and Zachary Taw.  

A celebration of life service was held Oct. 15, 2022, at Every Nation Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Read an obituary here.