In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Polly Wood Lineberger, 91

Polly Wood Lineberger, 1931-2022. IMB Photo

Polly Wood Lineberger, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Argentina, died Dec. 3, 2022, in Laurens, South Carolina. She was 91.  

Polly was born July 28, 1931, in Ware Shoals, South Carolina, to the late George Dewey and Mary Frances Abrams Wood. She attended Ware Shoals High School and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. 

At Furman University, Polly met her husband, Marion Thomas Lineberger, and the couple married in 1954.  

Polly taught second and third grade at Grove School in Piedmont, South Carolina, and then taught first grade at Margaret Hearne School in Wilson, North Carolina.  

In her letter seeking missionary appointment, Polly wrote that her first impression of missions came in Sunbeam Band, a program of the Woman’s Missionary Union.  

The Linebergers attended the Foreign Missions Conference in Ridgecrest. She wrote that the conference, “left an indelible impression upon us as to the need of missionaries and a burden in our hearts as we thought of the peoples of the world that know not Christ.”  

They taught their church members about missions.  

“Our concern grew as we sought to help them become more aware of this need. But we realized that we could not expect them to get the world in their hearts until we, their leaders, were willing to dedicate ourselves to God’s will,” she wrote.  

Polly wrote that a miracle of a canceled debt led them to commit to the mission field.  

“This obstacle did not eliminate our concern, yet we were confused and troubled. Why would God call us to go if circumstances did not permit? We could not dismiss it from our minds,” Polly wrote. “We prayed asking God to enable us to pay this debt. God gave us more than we asked because our creditor cancelled the debt. We felt that this was a signal to continue our pilgrimage.” 

In 1964, the International Mission Board appointed Polly and Marion as missionaries to Argentina.  

The Linebergers studied Spanish for one year in Costa Rica before moving to Argentina to serve the Baptist association in Rio Negro and Neuquén. They served as the southernmost missionaries in Argentina at the time.  

They assisted the seven Baptist churches and nine missions in the region that were without pastors and sought to expand the work. They were involved in helping the association start and host Vacation Bible Schools.  

Polly was the prayer chairman and later vice president of the WMU in Neuquén and was the chairman of the evangelism committee in the associational WMU. She enjoyed working with the Sunbeams and served as the assistant Sunday School teacher. 

Polly wrote that a highlight was working with Baptist women in Argentina in an evangelistic series that was conducted every year. The women hosted Bible studies in their homes and invited neighbors to join, which opened many doors for faith-based conversations. 

She was involved in the World Day of Prayer and was involved in plannings retreats for the women’s societies in the Argentine Baptist Convention.   

In 1969, they moved to Buenos Aires where they served as associational missionaries for 16 churches. In Buenos Aires, Polly also served the associational WMU as the second vice president, coordinator for pastor’s wives’ meetings, and served on the hospitality, evangelism and camps and retreats committee and served on the student home mission board.  

The Linebergers retired after 32 years of service.  

Polly is preceded in death by her husband of 48 years, Marion Thomas Lineberger. 

She is survived by her four children, Marion Thomas Lineberger, Jr. (Deborah), Mary Nell Lopez (Milton), Mona Ruth Grillo (Ricardo), and Anita Pricilla Squires (Scott); nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. 

A funeral service was held Dec. 10, 2022, at Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Ware Shoals, South Carolina.  

Donations in her 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.