Barbara Edwards, missionary to Panama and wife of former Director of Foreign Missions Leland Edwards, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday. She was 96.
Born Barbara Noyes, daughter of L.I.F.E. Bible College (now Life Pacific College) graduates Larry and Gladys Noyes, Barbara attended L.I.F.E. from 1940-1941; she was later ordained in 1953.
Leland, who passed away in 2013, recalled meeting Barbara in 1940 at the first missions conference, which took place following the annual Foursquare convention. After finishing his message and telling of things God had done in Panama, Leland’s father, pioneer missionary Arthur Edwards, gave an altar call for those who would like give their lives in ministry wherever God would lead them.
“Several came forward, and one of them was a very beautiful young blonde lady,” said Leland. “The Lord spoke to me, ‘There is your mate for life.’ I didn’t know her name or anything about her.”
Leland took Barbara to the L.I.F.E. junior/senior banquet at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., before he deployed to Panama. After 13 months of writing letters back and forth, Barbara accepted Leland’s marriage proposal in a letter. He saved up for three months to pay her fare to Panama. On the morning of August 31, 1941, a week after she arrived, they were married in the Panama City Foursquare Church.
She was licensed in 1942 and served as a missionary to Panama alongside Leland for 18 years. She then served as Leland’s assistant, first as he took the role of assistant director of foreign missions, and then as director. They retired together in 1988.
“The Foursquare movement globally is in a better place today because of Barbara’s ministry. While we will miss her, I am grateful that her husband, Leland, was there to welcome her home.”
—Glenn Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church
Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. remembers Barbara as a legend in global Foursquare circles. “The beauty of disciple-making and leadership development is that one’s investment continues to flourish and multiply far beyond any of our own personal capabilities or even lifespans,” says Glenn. “This is embodied in the life of Barbara Edwards. The Foursquare movement globally is in a better place today because of Barbara’s ministry. While we will miss her, I am grateful that her husband, Leland, was there to welcome her home.”
Foursquare Missions International Director Dr. Ted Vail adds that “Barbara and her husband, Leland, were pioneers, faithful leaders, disciple-makers and developers of leaders. She believed that God was able to do amazing things through others, and so she invested her life in helping others.
“We are still seeing the fruit of her ministry today as indigenous leaders and national movements continue to flourish in the regions where she and Leland served,” continues Ted. “Their pioneering work stands as a testament to their faithful and adventurous commitment to the Lord’s calling throughout their lives. She was loved by us all and will be missed.”
Barbara is survived by two sons, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial service celebrating Barbara’s life will be held on Monday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. at:
26444 Friendly Valley Parkway
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Donations in her honor can be made to Foursquare Missions Press.