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A Tribute to Edna Parker (1923-2017)

The IPHC World Missions Ministries Division is deeply saddened by the passing of sister Edna Parker. We thank God for her life and dedication to missions, and we take peace in the confidence that she is enjoying eternity with our Lord. Our prayers go out to the Parker family and all who knew her.

In the words of Shirley G. Spencer:

“Edna Harrell grew up thinking she was not smart. Her mother planted that notion in Edna’s mind by telling her repeatedly that she would need to marry an intelligent man, because she certainly would never be able to make it on her own. Edna did marry a smart man, but it wasn’t because of any insufficiency on her part. Her destiny would prove to be one of committed and faithful service to Christ and His kingdom.

Edna began her earthly journey on July 1, 1923, in Garland, North Carolina. She was the first of four children born to Albert and Leola Harrell. Her younger siblings included two brothers, LeRoy and A. J., and one sister, Brenda Faye.

Edna was saved at age 13 and grew up attending Pentecostal Holiness churches in North Carolina.

After graduating from high school, she continued her education at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia. Immediately following her graduation in1942, Edna went to East Carolina Teachers College in Greenville. At Christmas break that year, she accepted a job teaching second grade in Benson. During the summer, she moved back to Bethel to complete the half year of studies she needed to earn an “A” Certificate.

Sensing a call on her life to Christian service, Edna enrolled at Holmes Bible College in Greenville, South Carolina, in October of 1946. Since she had a teacher’s certificate, the school administrators accepted her as a student with the understanding that she would teach two classes to undergraduates.

While at Holmes, Edna made two decisions that would shape her destiny. First, she said yes to God’s call on her life to become a missionary. Second, she said yes when John Parker, another student at the school, asked her to marry him. John also was called to missions.

Edna married John B. Parker on June 21, 1949.

During the next 46 years as career missionaries, the Parkers’ assignments took them to numerous countries on four different continents. Though they both felt called to China, they began their missionary service in Costa Rica in 1951. (China was closed to missionaries at that time.) After serving 23 years in Costa Rica, the Parkers returned to the United States with the thought of settling into life as “ordinary people.”

But those plans quickly evaporated, for God had other plans for this valuable couple. For the next 23 years—the second half of their years of service–special assignments placed them in Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Chile, London, and various other sites. Their overseas work concluded in Spain before they returned to the United States in 1993 so Edna could care for her ailing mother.

John and Edna Parker have one son, David. He and his wife, Irvina (Smith) Parker, live in Oklahoma City. Both David and Irvina are employees of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. David serves as president of the Extension Loan Fund and Irvina is director of Girls Ministries for the denomination. The Parkers also have two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

After having served as PH missionaries for 46 years, John and Edna Parker officially retired in December of 1997; however, John continued to travel on occasion to teach classes or seminars in Bible schools and conferences.

In her autobiography, Just Me (Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, Missouri, 1997), this bright and spunky woman of God describes the joys and frustrations of her life as a missionary wife. Her stories, often told from a humorous perspective, help the reader experience the challenges and rewards of serving God in other cultures.

Overcoming those challenges surely fortified Edna for her role in her retirement years as a caregiver for her husband, John. She was indeed a remarkable, intelligent, and tenacious lady.”

Photo Credits: IPHC WMMD

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