Faye Pearson, First Woman to Serve as International Mission Board Area Director, Dies at 78

Faye Pearson, the first woman to serve as an area director for the International Mission Board, died Feb. 20 following a long illness. She was 78.
IMB photo

Faye Pearson, the first woman to serve as an area director for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, died Feb. 20 following a long battle with cancer. She was 78.

Pearson started her career in the early 1960s as many women did then — working as a secretary, teacher and church education director. But how things had changed by 1993, when the world’s largest evangelical missions organization elected her to lead their work in East Asia.

In that role, Pearson supervised the work of approximately 450 missionaries relating to nine countries.

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“Faye was a leader who cared greatly about the missionaries whom she led as well as the lost millions with whom they were seeking to share the Gospel,” said Clyde Meador, IMB’s interim executive vice president. “She was both firm and gentle in making difficult decisions and in communicating those decisions to those who were affected by them.”

During the four years they both served as area directors in different parts of Asia, he said, they had frequent dialogue when they were at the IMB’s home office in Richmond. “She was a wise and helpful person with whom to share challenges in our leadership responsibilities,” he said. “I came to know her as a committed servant of the Lord — a student of missions deeply devoted to seeing the Great Commission carried to every part of East Asia and its peoples, whom she greatly loved. She was a joy and an encouragement to all of us who worked with her.”

“Faye Pearson is remembered at the IMB with much love and respect,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said. “She clearly was passionate about serving her Savior, working across the SBC in roles with churches, state conventions, Woman’s Missionary Union, the Home Mission Board, and the Foreign Mission Board. She exhibited the gifts God gave her by nurturing relationships and modeling servant leadership. We thank God that so many fellow believers around the world had the blessing of working alongside Faye.”

Pearson felt God’s call at age 12 to be a missionary. Sixteen years later, in October 1968, she was appointed a missionary to Taiwan by what was then the Foreign Mission Board. While in language school in Taiwan from 1969-1971, Pearson taught English Bible classes, worked with children and was involved in student ministries in Taipei. For the next nine years, she did student ministry in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, among students from Jung Shan University, Kaohsiung Medical School, Normal University and four junior colleges.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Mary Jane Welch

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