On Monday, July 11, 2016, a hero of the faith and a hero of mine stepped into glory. Dr. Maurice Randall had been ill for the previous five years with a progressive neurological disease. His wife of 55 years is Shirley Jackson Randall, daughter of Paul and Irene Jackson.
Paul was one of the finest associational missionaries I have ever known and Irene was an outstanding missionary wife and Woman’s Missionary Union leader in Georgia. To me, Maurice and Shirley have been the epitome of excellence as Southern Baptist missionaries. For 30 years they served in the Sanyati Baptist Hospital in Zimbabwe, formerly, Rhodesia.
Dr. Randall completed his residency in General Surgery at the Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was a Diplomat and Fellow of the American Board of Surgery. He was also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Association of Surgeons for East Africa, and the Zimbabwe Medical Association as well as a member of the College of Primary Care Physicians of Zimbabwe. In 1979, Maurice served as an Honorary Tutor of the University of Zimbabwe. He was appointed as a medical missionary with the International Mission Board in 1971 and served as a surgeon at the bush hospital at Sanyati until his retirement in October 2001.
Maurice was ordained to the Gospel ministry by the First Baptist Church of Chickamauga, Georgia on June 12, 1979. He and his family worshiped there when they were home on furlough. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Second Baptist Church in Cedartown where he served as a deacon and Sunday School teacher.
Due to other engagements, Janice and I were not able to get to Cedartown in time for the visitation, but when we arrived Daniel and Carol Jackson were there to meet us and escort us over to the Randall home where we would be able to visit with Shirley, Maurice’s wife. Before going to the home, the funeral director allowed us to go inside the now-vacant funeral home where I was able to have a few precious, silent moments in the presence of this great medical missionary.
Cradled in his hands was his worn missionary Bible from which he had read so many times and which he had used to point the Zimbabwean people to faith in Jesus Christ. I prayed a prayer of gratitude for his amazing life, well-lived for the Lord, and for the many lives that had been forever changed physically and spiritually by the work and testimony of Maurice and Shirley Randall.
From the time I first met Shirley while I was serving as pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, I have been deeply moved by the story of her call into missions and the beautiful expression of her faithfulness through many years of missionary service. I have heard many missionary speakers during my life, but none ever touched me more than Shirley. I have always loved her story of how she would attend WMU meetings at Centralhatchee Baptist Church with her mother. She would recall as a child lying down in the pew with her head in her mother’s lap, listening to all the wonderful missionary stories shared in the WMU meeting. It was during those early years that God touched the heart of Shirley Jackson and initiated His call upon her life to serve as a missionary.
While visiting with Shirley at the house, she told me of the time my father visited them at Sanyati. During those years, Dad was serving on the Foreign Mission Board. She said, “Your father said, ‘Shirley, if you will direct me to town, I’d like to walk there and take a look around.’” She said, “Well, if you can find a town anywhere around here, I would like to know where it is.” I got a good laugh out of that story, but also realized that it spoke of the fact that Dr. and Mrs. Randall served for 30 years in the bush of Africa, without the conveniences that we are all accustomed to, with no town nearby, surrounded by people who came to deeply love the caring hearts of these two wonderful Southern Baptist missionaries.
I will forever be grateful for knowing Maurice and Shirley Randall, two of God’s finest missionaries. One other thing you should know, they raised a wonderful family of children who became missionaries and are serving across the world today.
When you pray today, please pray for our missionary families who are serving worldwide and need the faithful prayer support of each and every one of us.