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Avery T. Willis Jr.

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Avery T. Willis Jr.
The retired senior vice president of the International Mission Board was known for his passion for missions, discipleship and making the Gospel known to "oral learners."

Willis was born on Feb. 21, 1934, in Lepanto, Ark. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee and master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Willis served as pastor of Center Point Baptist Church in Wilburton, Okla., from 1954-56; Sunset Heights Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, from 1957-60; and Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, from 1960-64.

Following his years as a pastor, he and his wife were appointed as missionaries by the Foreign Mission Board, serving with their children in Indonesia from 1964-78.

Willis devoted the first six years of his mission service to evangelism and church planting. He spent the next eight years with the Indonesia Baptist Theological Seminary. He was a professor at the seminary for two years and its president for six years, during which time he wrote the MasterLife series of discipleship handbooks that eventually were translated into more than 50 languages and used in more than 100 countries.

After missionary service in Indonesia, Willis served for 15 years with the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) in the adult discipleship department.

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