In memoriam: Missionary emeritus John Wesley Pruitt, 95

John Wesley Pruitt, 1927-2023 . IMB

John Wesley Pruitt, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Trinidad and Tobago, died Feb. 11, 2023. He was 95.  

John was born July 11, 1927, to the late Elmer R. and Pearl P. Pruitt. He graduated from Central High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the Bachelor of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary) in Mill Valley, California. 

He served in the U.S. Navy and two years in the Army. In between his Navy and Army service, John committed his life to ministry, and international missions was his goal. After completing his military service, he attended Baylor, where he met Evelyn Dean Craighead.  

In 1955, John and Evelyn married.  

While at Baylor, John was involved in a Friday night missions program for children. He was also involved in local ministries. He was licensed to preach by Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco. While studying in seminary in California, John was also involved in missions. He ministered at a Spanish mission.  

After graduating, he worked at First Baptist Church Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina, and pastored at First Baptist’s Pruette Chapel. John went on to pastor in Trenton, Ohio. He worked for the Ohio Highway Department and pastored Enon First Baptist Church from 1964 to 1966. He later pastored a mission in Dayton, Ohio. He worked as an assistant business manager for two and a half years at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He later worked for Scope Community Action Agency. He also pastored First Baptist New Madison in New Madison, Ohio.  

In 1972, John and Evelyn moved to Oklahoma to care for Evelyn’s father. John became the pastor of Eastwood Baptist Mission in Midwest City, Oklahoma, then went to First Southern Baptist Del City in Del City, Oklahoma, where he counseled, trained and worked with the TV ministry and Job Corps ministry. In 1984, he ministered at the Mid-Del Manor Rest Home. He was asked, also at First Southern Baptist, to direct the new intercessory ministry.  

A visiting missionary serving in Israel told John and Evelyn of the great need, and his sharing prompted them to consider missions. The Pruitts pursued missions earlier in their career but did not meet the requirements at the time. 

In their letter seeking missionary appointment, John said it was their intention to spend their remaining years doing missions.  

In 1987, the Foreign Mission Board, now the International Mission Board, appointed them missionaries to Trinidad and Tobago.  

John and Evelyn strengthened small churches and started new ministries. The couple had to move from Trinidad to Tobago because of a coup. In Tobago, they established preaching points, Bible studies and missions. They showed Christian films, hosted street meetings, distributed Bibles and hosted discipleship trainings for new Christians. They became known across the island as “Bro. John” and “Sister John.”  

In a newsletter, the Pruitts shared how a volunteer team from First Baptist Church Orlando, in Orlando, Florida, assisted them in hosting Bible schools in two cities.  

John and Evelyn retired after 13 years of service.  

He is preceded in death by his son-in-law, Danny Buck 

John is survived by his wife of 66 years, Evelyn; his eight children, Teresa Pruitt, David Pruitt (Herlin), Steven Pruitt (Danielle), Mark Pruitt, Angela Lashley (Bo), Wesley Pruitt, Debbie Pruitt, Pam Pruitt; and 20 grandchildren.  

A celebration of life service was held Feb. 18, 2023, at Choctaw Road Baptist Church.  

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.