J.C. & Betty Choate
Gospel Preacher In Mississippi and All Over The World
Memorials & Life Remembrances Of J.C. Choate
from The Voice Of Truth International
Betty Burton Choate
Departing in this issue from our usual "From the Heart of . . . " feature, I am compelled to show you a little of the heart of the Christian man who dreamed of many things in his life, and who chose me to share with him in the exciting fulfillment that God brought for most of those dreams.
J.C. Choate preached in a Gospel meeting in Winona in 1952, before the times when visiting preachers were housed in motels, so he stayed in our home. According to his diary entries, he called the various denominational preachers in town, had personal studies during the days with people who came to the evening meetings, and baptized seven souls and restored three. He had a flat on the way down and a blow-out on the way home; didn't get back to Corinth until 4:30 in the morning. And it was a "mission meeting"- free; but he concluded that we were "very fine people" and he would "never forget this place." He was 20, the eldest son of Jesse and Hollis Choate of Corinth, MS, and I was 12, the daughter of Clyde and Theola Burton.
I thank God for bringing our paths to cross, for the 52 years of life together, and for the blessing of being tools in His outreach for souls that was far greater than we could ever have imagined with our small-town backgrounds. But a trip to the "Holy Land" before our marriage had opened his eyes to the expanse of the world and the multitudes of souls, so I was not greatly surprised when he confided one day that he wanted us to do some mission work overseas. India was his choice because it was the largest democracy without the Gospel. In 1960 he resigned from local work with the Central church in Minneapolis, MN, and we moved into the house with Daddy and Mother in Winona. We had no sponsor and no income, but it never crossed our minds to doubt that the support would be raised and that we would be able to go, because this was what Jesus had told His people to do. Someone made theremark at the beginning, "They won't last long." And with the visa difficulties during those years inIndia, someone else questioned, "Why don't you go somewhere where you can stay long enough to do some good?"
The story is long - 48 years. Part of the time we were in Pakistan, working closely with Gordon Hogan, then Sri Lanka, then India, as a family. Our firstborn, Sheila, was one and one-half years old when we moved to Pakistan. Steve was born there a year later. We adopted my niece, Darla, when we came home after four years in Pakistan. When we returned to India in 1971, Shannon (Brad) was four months old, and Barbara Oliver had decided to join us as "extended family." We were a happy and busy seven, and hoped to get long-term visas that would enable an extended stay in India.
The small church in New Delhi had grown in knowledge as well as in numbers during J.C.'s absence. Moving the meeting place to the living room of the house we rented, and using personal visits, Bible courses, a monthly magazine, and hospitality as means to contact and convert people, we were encouraged by the continued growth. After we had exhausted the visa time allowed for tourists, through exerting pressure from some influential people, we were finally able to get permission to apply for visas as a journalist for one year. At the end of the year, to our disappointment the visas were not granted (avoiding setting a precedent that would have enabled us to get renewals each year). So we had no choice but to turn things over to the local brethren again and to come back to the States.
But we felt far from defeated. We had learned that it was now possible to buy time for religious broadcasting on Radio Sri Lanka, and that the programs could be heard over much of Asia. The negative was that we had no equipment or funds for the programs, so we knew that if we took on such a challenge, it would necessitate being in the States to raise support to cover all the costs. By that time we had formed working relationships with preachers in South India who had been Christians a number of years and were mature in their knowledge as well as capable speakers, so we felt that we could arrange for programs in several of the major languages. Brother Reggie Gnanasundaram, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, managed the contracts. From 1975, J.C. spent three months in the spring and three months in the fall in India alone, recording radio tapes in English and with the various Indian speakers in four of their languages, and working with them on the literature to be used in follow-up. The other six months he visited churches to raise the funds tor the programs we had never expected to be able to have. Because we could not get long-term visas for India, and because he had to be in the States to raise funds. the children and I lived in Winona during those 20 years. I admit, we had never planned on doing mission work by separation, and it was a cost that had to be counted. In the end, we knew we could not put our own human preferences above the opportunity to help bring the truth to many who would be reached in no other way except mass media. After we committed to the sacrifice, we discovered that God turned it around and made it into a blessing in countless ways, allowing us to work together on opposite sides of the world!
The radio programs grew in number, and sometimes shrank because of not enough funds to keep all of them going. J.C. had an English program, Sunny David spoke in Hindi, Joshua Gootam in Telugu, P.R. Swamy in Tamil, P.K. Varghese in Malayalam. With extreme effort we maintained good coverage in these prominent languages of India. The response in mail and requests for Bible courses and literature was overwhelming, so the need to raise funds for printing mushroomed.
In J.C. 's travels back and forth, he realized how much literature and radio work were needed in other places, so he raised funds for those needs too. For several years there was an aggressive program of printing and radio work in Indonesia, which was curtailed when the local man through whom he was working came to the States for further education. Some printing continues to be done through Colin Mckee and others who are working there. In time, about 20 broadcasts were arranged for various islands in the Philippines, with literature for follow-up, coordinated by Reuben Emperado. During this time, also, Wayne and Janet Barrier retired from their jobs and became full-time partners in the mission effort under the oversight of the Double Springs church. Part of the work on the American side was the publication of a newspaper, World Evangelism, which served as our own report venue and also provided space for us to help publicize the work being done by other missionaries in many parts of the world. J.C. had also wanted to print a quarterly, Readers Digest-sized magazine to be shared among Christians in the States as well as in mission fields. Finally, in 1993 we brought out the first issue of The Voice of Truth International, with J .C. as the Editor, Byron Nichols as the Managing Editor, and me doing the layout work. That same year we built the World Evangelism office building, with a lot of volunteer help (Andy Akins, G.K. Tanner, Clayton Malone, Clyde Burton, and others) to house our "staff' - J.C., Barbara Oliver, Eulene Ramsey, and me - and to provide storage for the books we were printing in the States. J.C.'s first book had been printed in 1953. I wrote First Steps in Faith, about our mission efforts, in 1969. He had written numerous study books to supplement the Bible courses being offered overseas and had decided that it would be good to make them available outside of India. He had also encouraged many missionaries to write their stories, in spite of the fact that he knew there was not much "market" for them. He felt that the record needed to be available for posterity, so he enabled the printing of more mission stories than probably any other publisher in the church.
Overall, more than 200 titles are available, with twenty-five or more being offered to World Bible School teachers, people involved in jail ministries, and to those who would give them in evangelism at $1.00 per copy - often below cost. Countless books are given away, and sent on request to people overseas, so that the printing and distribution of books grew to be another major outreach.
The Voice Of Truth International is used widely in the States, as well as being sent to brethren throughout the world, free of charge. This issue is volume 57. All told, more than 1,500,000 are in circulation. John Thiessen became a co-worker with a ish version of the magazine, bringing out seven issues before his death in 2006. Plans call for the continuation of that magazine, too, when a person capable of doing layout in ish can be found.
Another great need J.C. saw was for a good mission news magazine. As we got more involved with various parts of the work, we discontinued the printing of the World Evangelism newspaper, intending to publish Global Harvest instead. We did bring out one issue, a 48-page, full-color news magazine, allowing space to feature work being done in many parts of the world. We had hoped to make it a quarterly publication, also, but because of J.C.'s illness it had to be shelved temporarily.
J.C. had envisioned a mission training school (World Evangelism Scbool of Missions), bringing former or currently "at home" missionaries together to train prospective men from the experience gained from years on the field. Wayne Barrier has taken the lead in organizing the meetings to write the curriculum for this school, which is scheduled to begin in August, 2008. Following the organizing of a Bible Training School in Myanmar, schools are now in operation in numerous places. with Wayne also raising funds and working with local brethren in their development. After twenty years of working much of the time on opposite sides of the world, in 1994, after our children were out of the nest, J.C. and I were blessed to do everything together - weekend visits to churches. trips to India and other countries. work here at home. What wonderful years! We talked and planned and prayed and cried and exulted and dreamed and waited and worked, together. What wonderful years!
In 2002, J.C. was diagnosed with colon cancer. His first statement, after hearing the diagnosis, was, "We are in God's hands." For three years after the initial surgery, everything continued as before. We made the two trips to India each year, and we did the work at home. Then he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and was told he must have the tumors removed. Following that surgery, he was short-of-breath and very limited in any physical activity. He underwent intensive treatment, and was the subject of countless prayers for his health.
Thankfully, he was not in much pain until the last months, and he was able to continue with limited office work, writing communication handling of payments for overseas radio, TV and printing contracts, enjoying visitors. attending our curriculum-development meetings. etC. The last three months he was in and out of hospitals much of the time. and was bedridden during the last month because of increasing weakness. Our son, Brad, who works for a software programming company, was able to be with us for that month when nothing else could be done for J.C . medically. I was so thankful that he could be at home rather than in a hospital room.
J.C. was in a coma for twenty-four hours before his death, not responding to anything I said or did. When I realized, because of erratic breathing, that he was dying, I hugged and kissed him, and - wonderful gift! - he kissed me back. The next breath was his last. He died at 12:20 PM on February 1,2008. On February 5, Wayne Barrier, Colin McKee, L.D. Willis, Dennis Larson, Loy Mitchell, and Byron Nichols led the funeral service at the Winona Church of Christ facility for the many loved ones who gathered to say their last goodbye. He was laid to rest in the Oakwood Cemetery in Winona.
Were all of those prayers for him, for us, answered? Yes, in God's own good way. J.C.'s spirit was young, but his body was 76 years old, weak with sickness and worn with age. God was ready for him to come home. But we had needed the time for others to be brought into the team at Winona, and for me to learn many things from him that I would have to know when he was gone. God granted not only the time but packed it with development for the school and all the other preparations that needed to be made. He brought Jerry and Paula Bates, and Louis and Bonnie Rushmore to live in Winona and to work with me, with the Barriers, the Nichols, the Larsons, and other team members so that the programs here in the US and overseas can continue.
But none of this work could have been done without the oversight since 1965 of the elders of the Liberty Church of Christ in Dennis, MS. and the support all of these years of many congregations and individuals who have faithfully sent their checks month after month, without fail. We have often said that when a person is involved in a mission effort those who join hands in that work are the "cream" of the church. It has truly been a foretaste of heaven to have known and loved such brothers and sisters in the American church and in congregations around the world.
I am deeply thankful that the Liberty elders and the many congregations and individuals who support the work have pledged their continued involvement so that the mass media programs so vital for evangelizing in India and other countries in Asia can go on without interruption. Now the mantle of leadership in the overseas work and in the mission training school passes to the Wayne Barrier family, along with the others of the team. Wayne, Jerry, and Louis will do J.C.'s part, continuing to add to the work as doors of opportunity open. I am doing the work J.C. and I did together, so the closeness with him is very real in my heart.
"Be strong and of good courage . . . . And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; Do not fear nor be dismayed" (Deuteronomy 31:6,8).
(This is a letter Sheila wrote at the time J.C. received an honorary doctorate from Heritage Christian University. He looked forward so much to her daily calls during his illness. She and Rob live in Kotzebue, Alaska) "Daddy, as you receive your honorary doctorate from Heritage Christian University today, [ wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. You have overcome a lot in the past two years just to be present for this award, and I wish that I could have been there to share the moment with you and Mother in person.
"But in spite of the distance, you are always in my heart love so much to you: my foundations of faith, my love of music, my appreciation of beautiful parks and scenery . . . so many things I trace to you. Your steadfast effort to carry out your vision for the mission work you and Mother began all those years ago has truly been inspiring. I know that you have a love for God and for the work you hold so dear that has seldom been eclipsed. "Whatever your future may hold. I know that it holds a place in the kingdom of Heaven, and that you hold a place in the hearts, minds, and lives of so many people that you have touched with your dedication to the Word of God, and the sincere spirit with which you have reached out to others to share the good news.
"You hold a special place in my life, and in the lives of each person in our family. But most of all, I know that you and Mother are bonded connected with a unity that the rest of us can only glimpse. Maybe it takes 50 plus years of forging the ties, or maybe you two were uniquely suited for each other. But the example that you have shared with the rest of us will inspire and encourage us all far beyond your physical lives."
(Darla is my niece whom we adopted when she was eight. Her words mean so much to me. She and Dave live in Hethzebah. Georgia.) "How did J.C. Choate affect my life? More to the point, how did he not affect my life? Writing this piece is odious to me because it means that there is a big empty hole in my life that no one will ever be able to fill. But that's me, I'm selfish - he wasn't. Even though he was my uncle by marriage and not by blood, when he realized I needed a home, he gave me his. This may not seem like much to some, but he did this knowing that I was nothing but a rolling ball of fury.
"I've heard that the definition of kindness is 'goodness in action.' That's the living example he gave to me. I was always a big person and even as a child I was often told I was too big to be picked up. When we would get home from a car trip and all the kids were asleep, he would carry us and put us to bed. Even if I was wide awake, I did my best to pretend I was asleep, not to miss this extreme kindness. I never remember him raising his voice in anger. He could get very animated and there was never any doubt about where he stood on an issue, but he never yelled.
"Once I was looking for stamps in his desk drawer and instead I found a very hurtful letter from my mother's husband. He came in as I was reading it. He was so kind in assuring me that the things in the letter were untrue - he was so sad that I had found it. If you love someone, in a sense, you study them and store away information about them.
"I can't remember getting a gift from him I didn't like, because he knew me. As a young girl, I was wild about the Osmonds. (He thought I was too wild about them!) Even at that, once we were in Memphis when they were too, and it was his plan to take me to see them if our plane tickets to the mission field worked out to allow the time. Small kindnesses mean a lot. Without them people can't see God on the earth. Today I'm waiting to go live with the God who made me because of the kindnesses of JC Choate and the people he surrounded himself with - Christians. Kindness, goodness (Godliness) in action, made me want all there was to have of it. Thanks, Dad!"
(Steve and his family live in Searcy, Arkansas where he teaches at Harding University. I am thankful to have them within driving distance.) "I find it extremely difficult to speak of my father, his mission and accomplishments in the Lord's work. Having devoted all of his life to missions with a sense of resolution and dedication few could equal or imagine, having myself, been born on the mission field in the early years of that lifetime of effort. I feel that I am too close to all of it to speak with any sense of proportion or comprehensive balance, like a man who lives in the foothills and cannot grasp the profound scope and scale of the mountain that surrounds him. ] can only glimpse some aspect of these things in hearing and reading the words of others, evangelists, missionaries, preachers, men and women better positioned than I to speak of his efforts in a variety of missions- related fields, and how those efforts impacted peoples' lives, led to conversions, inspired others to lead and evangelize, touched upon eternity. "I can say a little about the man, as husband and father. Even here, though, his dedication was so complete, his focus so constant, that to know him, you had to know his commitment to the Lord's work. Through this, however, you found a strong man, vigorous in following the Great Commission, one who knew no bounds, recognized no meaningful obstacles in spreading the Gospel. You would also come to know a quiet man, one who projected a sense of resolution second to none. Sure in his faith, a loving husband and father who led by example, slow to anger, tender in his affections, my father also possessed many interests. He was a great music enthusiast, loved to travel, to experience different cultures, make new friends, and one who recognized no cultural, ethnic, linguistic or class boundaries. He recognized better than any human being I have ever known the common truth That we are all God's children, and all of us are in need of God's saving grace and the blood of Jesus Christ. It is through these disparate things that the stature of The man - and the magnitude of our loss - may be measured."
(When Brad left for college, he fell in love with Georgia The first semester, worked at Harding during school vacations, and didn't come home for those long summer months that allowed his mother to emotionally "let go" of her baby. At the end of every visit through the years I cry, and explain, "It's because you didn't come back home like the other kids did." When his company allowed him to come to be of help to J.C. and me during those last weeks of his life, Brad remarked, "You always said I never came home. Well, now I've come home." In helping me to lift and turn J.C., I have never seen more gentleness - like a father with a sick baby. Those experiences together in caring for the one we so deeply loved meant more than I can say. About computers, Brad can talk endlessly, but about his heart the words don't come easily.) "As a selfish child, I grieve for the loss of my father. Bull am comforted knowing that he is now with the Father that he loved and served so faithfully an of his life. He was truly a good and faithful servant."
Some Books Written By J.C. Choate
COLIN MCKEE, Indonesia
David said of the death of Abner, "A prince and great man has fallen this day in Israel." We may say the same of J.C. Choate. He was a gallant soldier of the cross. He was relentless and untiring in his efforts to share the Gospel through every medium available. Thousands upon thousands of books and magazines and radio and television programs have been distributed worldwide to send the light to lands steeped in darkness because of his efforts and love for the truth of the Gospel.
Brother Choate was motivated from an early age to concentrate on regions beyond the borders of the U.S.A. and his name became synonymous with evangelism. He wrote, produced, and helped to produce many books and radio programs in Indonesia and often visited there through the years to help with the work. It was a high point of our year when he and Betty came to visit us, and his first concern always was for mass media production to evangelize the lost and for materials to edify the brethren. He enjoyed his work, and he enjoyed life. He could really break up over some funny situation or story, and it was a joy to see him in the spasms of laughter. He was a fan of old western movies but gave little time to entertainment because of his dedication to evangelism. I
I remember traveling in the mid 90's with brother Choate to a remote city in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Samarinda. It was one of the dirtiest cities in all of Indonesia that I had ever been in, but it didn't bother him because he was focused on trying to get the Gospel to the people of that city. We had to use the public transport, a diesel burning, smoking, choky bus for several hours to get to that place from Balik Papan, but he was undeterred because of his interest in getting radio programs on local stations, and thus taking the truth to people who had never heard it.
He was a great encourager to missionaries and preachers and could always be depended on to stand strong in the old paths. He cannot be replaced, but through his books, articles, mass media programs, and life of sacrifice, we will continue to be inspired to go forth as he did, for "he, being dead, yet speaketh."
Joel Stephen Williams
J.C. Choate published two of my books when I was a very young preacher. He ac;ked me to go with him to India in 1985. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what he was trying to do as a missionary. I finally realized that he was trying to be (1) a good missionary in one location, (2) the Gospel Advocate publishing house for the whole mission field, and (3) the Herald of Truth for as much of the mission field as possible. While he wrote and published probably 50 of his own books, he also published many dozens of books by others.
J.C. had a hard time saying,"No," to any good project and to a request for help. If a missionary needed help, he would try to raise some money for him, get him some books, or do whatever he could. He always traveled economy, stayed in the homes of other missionaries and local Christians if possible rather than in a hotel, and was very frugal in spending money for himself. He will have no worry over the heavenly CPAs going over the financial books of his ministry. Those who watched from the early years came to realize that working in mission fields was not a short-term commitment for J.C. He would give his life to world evangelism. He will be missed by many people in the world.
Randal J. Matheny, Brazil . . .
It was a special trip, for one purpose only. I had driven down the Natchez Trace Parkway, from my mother-in-law's house in northeast Mississippi, to Winona just to visit him and his wife.
For years I had read books he had published, starting with Glover Shipp's book, God Answers His Mail. given me by the author on a campaign to Belo Horizonte. In 1978 it was only a two-year-old volume, and I came away with the author's autograph. On a subsequent trip back to Belo Horizonte, I came away with another autographed book of Glover's, Fire in My Bones, by the same publisher. Then in 1981 came yet another book of Glover's, the type this publisher excelled at, an account of the first years of work in Belo Horizonte, There's No Nut Like a Brazil Nut. Since we had developing plans to move to Belo Horizonte, these books were precious companions. When we moved to Brazil in 1984, Dr. George Hobby did our medical exams required by the Brazilian government. So his mother Georgia Hobby's book, They called him Muluti: The life and times of Alvin Hobby, a Teacher in Africa (2000), drew our attention. Again by the same missionary publisher. Many of his authors I came to know; others became co-workers in the mission field.
So, this trek down to Winona became something of a necessity. An imperative, meeting this name I had read and seen on the spines of countless books. We had exchanged a few emails. When I announced my desire to visit, he and his wife welcomed me warmly. They opened their home, gave me the grand tour of their working facilities, showed me attention and kindness. This missionary publisher loaded me down with missions and preaching books from his stock.
I did not know him so well, but his soft-spoken manner, his attentiveness, his concern for faithfulness in doctrine and missions, his treatment of me as an equal, invested in that long familiar name all the good and gentle qualities I could have hoped for.
So, as he rests from his labors, and as we continue ours, encouraged for years by his efforts, we salute this servant of Christ who showed the perfect love of God for all men, J.C. Choate.
Arjunan And Glory, Batlagunda . . . We miss brother lC. a lot. Though it is unbearable to us we comforted ourselves that we would meet him in Heaven. We thank God for his literature ministry which is alive. We know a couple in Batlagundu, both are retired teachers. Whenever we meet them they speak about our brother J.C's ministry in India because they had attended the meeting and heard J.C's preaching. Through the good work which was committed unto us we could reap 50 souls at "Readers' Seminar" in Ariyalur District, an unforgettable event.
Demar and Dixie Elam, Open Door Ministry . . .
You know how much Dixie and I love you and how much we loved J.C. He was truly a "Soldier of Christ." He was a great warrior of the Lord's Cause on this carth and he will be greatly missed.
Dixie and I both know J.C. is better off than those of us who are earth bound, but we also know how much good he was doing and could have done had he stayed with us longer. The statement, "he will be missed", is said about many people but when it comes to J.C. that statement is amplified because he was a giant in missions. He has been a voice in worldwide missions for so long. Many missionaries looked to him for inspiration. We were motivated by his zeal. Global missions was made richer for J.C. 's years and years of personal involvement.
Asghar Ali, Lahore, Pakistan . . .
I have known brother Choate since. as a young man in Lahore, I left the Muslim faith and was baptized into Christ.
I do not know how to express my feelings on this sad news of our brother passing away. He was the first pioneer missionary to Karachi and the second pioneer missionary to Pakistan. So far as literature is concerned he has left behind hundreds of tracts and small books. His passing away is a great loss to the brotherhood.
AL AND DONNA HORNE, SOUTH AFRICA . . .
We are heartbroken for you but so happy for J.C. - because as it says below, he has "entered the promised rest." And honestly, we know few men of God who have worked as hard and as steadfastly and as commitedly as your dear husband.
We remember the time you spent in our home and came to love both of you. Because of Christ, we were joined in heart. We have continued to keep up with your work over the years and have faith that what you and J.C. began and nourished to life will continue to bear fruit for the Lord and His church. Especially do I appreciate J.C. because he encouraged me to write a book about our mission work in Africa. That book was probably one of my greatest contributions to the mission field, and it would not have been possible without you and J.C. behind it.
CLAUDE AND MADGE LEWIS. PARTNERS IN PROGRESS
Joe was one of the greatest servants of our Lord. He will be greatly missed, but his marvelous influence will never die. We are thankful for you. The love you have for Christ and the church is comforting and encouraging, and your loving care for J.C. during his illness has been wonderful.
FELIX GARCIA, USA . . .
The church of Christ has lost a great man, evangelist, missionary, preacher, teacher, leader. brother, son, husband, and father. Even though we are so saddened by his loss and for his wonderful family, we know brother Choate is now resting, indeed. from his labors and long illness. In life. he denied himself: took up his cross, and followed Christ, never looking back. He preached the saving Gospel to thousands, planting the seed of salvation and hope in the hearts of many souls. Because of his efforts, many learned about the Master and have given their lives for Christ. That is precisely what this immoral, sin-infested nation and world need today more than ever. . . more God-fearing men like brother Choate who truly loved Christ. was eternally grateful for the Savior's sacrifice, and was never afraid to speak the truth to mortal men. Like the apostle Paul, brother Choate was a great example for all of us (I Corinthians 11:1).
Even though our dear brother is now gone, his legacy, however, will remain forever. I personally thank God for him, for he preached the Gospel "in season and out o/season" and took the Great Commission very seriously, as it should be. The sacrifices he made in life were many, but now comes the reward. Victory! Much like the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7,8, I could imagine brother Choate saying before his departure, "/ have fought a good fight, / have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
WAYNE AND JANET BARRIER. WORLD EVANGELISM
My association with J.C. Choate started in 1982. My wife and I had been evaluating missions programs for two years to identify one that we could be personally involved in helping. J.C. and Betty visited us and spent time in our home on numerous occasions. As we learned more about their work, it was an easy decision for us to commit our efforts to what they were doing.
Over the next 26 years, I had opportunity to travel and work with J.C. in Asia. The more I learned about the vision, mission, and reach of the extensive work J.C. was leading, the more amazed I was that such a program could be managed by a single individual. J.C.'s team involved a network of dedicated individuals in India and Asia. with the backing of churches and individuals in the United States, but J.C. was the director and heart of the great program. The "World Evangelism" effort involved a unique and effective integration of mass communications, literature, personal teaching, training, and networking.
The system succeeded because J.C. put time and effort into it, with work-days of 12-16 hours. He was constantly seeking better ways to do things and pushing to expand the reach of the teaching.
The force that drove J.C. was his unwavering faith in the Lord. He was burdened by the fact that the church, today, is not obeying the command in Matthew 28 for followers of Jesus to teach the Gospel to every person in all the world. J.C. approached the commandment as a submissive, hardworking, loyal servant. He sought no recognition or glory. His primary concern was that the job was not being done. With every step of progress. he felt that our efforts had been blessed as God had given an increase.
I have been blessed to know and partner with this powerful warrior in the Lord's army. His work is done and. because of his leadership. I know better how to do my work in reaching out to the lost.
It is my privilege to write about our beloved brother J.C. Choate, who was indeed a great soldier in God's army, and a great servant in the Lord's kingdom. When Moses died, God said, "Moses, My servant, is dead" (Joshua J :2). I believe God would have said the same words for J.C.
FRANCIS DAVID. NEW DELHI. INDIA . . .
I have personally known J .C. since 1970 when I was just a young boy. I was quite impressed with his dedication and missionary zeal for the Lord. He was totally committed to the Great Commission. It was back in 1977, I remember, when he first approached me and asked if would leave my secular work and join in the fulltime ministry. I accepted, and today I am what I am because of his encouragement. For me, he was just like Barnabas who is called the son of exhortation.
J.C. made trips to India twice a year, and his first destination would be New Delhi, where he would stay for some weeks to record the radio sermons. We used to eat, laugh, crack jokes, and discuss our efforts to spread the cause of Christ. I have no hesitation in saying that evangelism was in his blood. His life was evangelistic, and that is why most of the time he was away from home, working in Asia. I can imagine when he was bedridden, he must have been thinking how to print more literature and reach more people.
Once I was talking with J.C. and asking him (I was just kidding) what would be our retirement age? And you know what he said: "Francis we never retire in the Lord's work." He also always gave first preference to the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). He taught me by his example. He would never miss the worship service, and always encouraged his co-workers and Christians not to travel to Delhi or back to their states on Sundays, missing worship. Another important thing I learned from him that he had a great faith in prayer (l Thessalonians 5: 17).
The church in Delhi will miss him, because he was like a family member, and no doubt, all over the world Christians will miss him.
JOSHUA GODTAM. KAKINADA. INDIA . . .
J.C. was remarkable and extremely courageous. I am feeling sorry that I did not have more time to spend with him. But whatever time we had together, it was quality time. When he first came to Bombay in J 965 he was the one who taught me how to build a sermon to preach. He also took me to a Bible book store down town and bought my first Bible concordance. The outlines method and the concordance are still with me. They will be with me till my sojourn on this earth comes to an end.
During the intervening years since those early days in Bombay, we have shared many hours of preparation of radio tapes together, and have printed many thousands of books and magazines to be used as follow-up tools. A few years back he raised funds for Telugu TV programs . . .
JOHN REESE. PRESIDENT. WORLD BIBLE: SCHOOL . . .
We remember with fondness and love all the many times that lC. and you came to visit us in South Africa. You were always such an encouragement and inspiration to us. You shared with us a deep faith in the Lord and inspirational ways to reach greater numbers of people in the world for the Lord. There never seemed to be a limit to what J.C. believed could be done. He shared with us a great vision for reaching the lost around the world. J.C. was also a wonderful inspiration to many missionaries in getting their experiences in a presentable format to share with the brotherhood. We, certainly, have been inspired by reading many of these accounts. Thanks to both of you for helping share these stories with all of us.
NIRMAL MALIK. NEW DELHI. INDIA . . .
In brother Choate's good health, he courageously tried to teach us The Way from the Word. In his failing health, he tried to teach us to live The Way. In his final abode, he teaches us to leave off the world to go The Way . . .
PHILEMON RAJAH. MADURAI. INDIA .. .
Some 20 years back I met brother J.C. Choate, a gigantic-figured man with a child heart and very strong, dynamic dedication to evangelize the whole world with the only one true Gospel of Christ. I must thank brother P.R. Swamy for giving me a chance to meet such a wonderful Christian. In India alone, because of brother J.C., through radio. TV, literature, Bible correspondence courses, hand bills, and books, many people speaking Tamil, Telugu, English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, and Paite languages have obeyed the truth. Apart from these, he was instrumental in taking the Gospel through magazines and other printed materials to many countries in Africa and Asia.
To myself, along with Indian brothers like P.R. Swamy (Bangalore). Rajanayagam (Kangayam), Arjunan (Ballagundu), I).K. Varghese (Trivandrum), Joshua Gootam (Kakinada), and Sunny and Francis David (New Delhi), God gave the opportunity to work with brother J.C. and the "World Evangelism" team in mass media.
My family and I, and churches of Christ in Madurai and other cities and states in India will remember him and live to honor his vision of evangelism and to fulfill it.
P.K. VARGHESE. TRIVANANTHAPURAM. INDIA . . .
We are sorry that J.C has been separated from this world, but we are glad that his pain and suffering are over now. All of his wonderful works will live forever. What a great work he has been doing for the last five decades: Many books, recordings, publications, tracts, Radio and TV programs. All of these will be memorials for him in many countries and in many languages. Sister Betty, may the Lord continue to bless you to be in His great service. You both are still our inspiration. Even though J.C is away bodily, his suggestions and advices are with us. As co-workers in His kingdom we are fortunate to uphold those principles in all our respective fields.
P.R. SWAMY. BANGALORE.INDIA . . .
When I called Sister Betty and asked her how was J.C., she said he was weak and sleeping. This happened on Wednesday 30th Jan. When I called her again on 1st Feb, Sister said that he passed away.
India lost a great spiritual leader who initiated the radio and literature work and TV work, through which the whole of India had the opportunity to hear the Gospel. His service to our nation for four decades was unforgettable. What he started, we will continue for the glory of God. This is the best way we can remember our beloved brother J.C. He was our unsung hero.
He called me 100% evangelist. I will keep up that banner. We as a family remember his great service and sacrifice. India will remember this great worker.
KALUM GAMAGE. COLOMBO. SRI LANKA . . .
It was indeed a shock to hear about the passing away of Mr. J.C. Choate. Very sad for us, as on the 5th of February we had the Bible study at brother Paul's place, and Harold informed all about this sad news. Incidentally, we also understand that the funeral was held on this day. Even more sad was that we were holding the very book that he had written - The Gospel of Christ, which is so meaningful to us. In fact, our study is based from this valuable book.
We are indeed privileged for all the hard work put in by the late Mr. J. C. Choate, you and all the other Christian brethren, that we in this small island were able to benefit spiritually. (Note: This man obeyed the Gospel last week. He is a sub-manager in a German-owned rubber factory, managed by brother Harold Thomas, son-in-law of the late Reggie Gnanasundaram.)
S. RAJANAYAGAM. KANGAYAM.INDIA . . .
Our brother, J.C. is a great Christian. It is impossible to replace him, and his loss is irreparable not only to his family but also to the entire Christian community across the world. We are thankful that he has had the vision of reaching the millions though radio, TV and printed pages.
Our brother was a man of few words and LET US DO IT was his favorite phrase. This is the exact phrase he used when he entrusted me with several of my works. Still it is ringing in my ears.
The only comfort we can have now is that our brother is in a much and far better place. We all know and you, sister, know very well how he suffered and agonized in the recent weeks, and so he is in SAFE hands. We know that he often tells that we are in His hands, and he is now literally in His hands, which is unmatched.
ROBERT MARTIN. PACIFIC ISLANDS . . .
J.C. has been such a great example of a man of great courage and strength. Betty, you are such a great example of a living help mate in life that loves, care and stands so strong by her beloved partner in life in all he faces. You both mean so much to Mary and me and all that we have tried to do for the Lord over the last 34 years in the Pacific. We must say it is because of the influence of you two beloved soldiers of Christ. I know that I have said that many times, but I must say it always of you two beloved true hearted workers. Some missionaries are professional missionaries and then there are those who have the heart of a true missionary in loving, care and serving the Lord and people that they work among. We are so thankful to the Lord that you two have impacted and influenced our lives to have the heart of a true missionary to the people in the Pacific Islands.
We love you so much and you will just never know except in eternity the good that you and J.C. have done for mission work worldwide. The work that J.C. did while on this earth will live on through missionaries like me and many young missionaries that we have and are training.
SUNNY DAVID. NEW DELHI. INDIA . . .
In 1968 I first met brother J.C. Choate in New Delhi where I live with my family. I was working in a religious bookstore. Brother Choate had just arrived in Delhi with his family with the goal of planting the New Testament church in the capital city of India. In his visits to the bookstore, he asked me to come to his house on Sunday for worship, which I did. Afterwards, he asked me a few questions, as to what church I was member of, and how and when was I saved, etc. After listening to me, he showed me what the Bible teaches about the church and how to be saved. It didn't take long for me to see and believe the truth. From the time of my baptism, J.C. began to encourage me to teach others what I had learned. Soon, I was able to lead my family members and others to obey the truth.
In the years to follow, as the church grew and as the Choates continued to come to Delhi, we were like a big family. Each time they came, everyone rejoiced, but when they would leave, everyone would be saddened. When J.C. got sick and was unable to come anymore, everyone in the church here was earnestly praying to the Father in heaven for him. When it was announced that he had passed away, the whole church went into mourning. J.C. was very much loved and respected in Delhi.
Brother Choate was a faithful Christian, full of evangelistic zeal. He believed in the power of the printed page. With his initiative, here in Delhi we printed countless number of books and tracts, some of which he himself had written and others were written by various members of the church in the States and by preachers here. He began publishing The Bible Teacher, a monthly magazine, which is now in its thirty-ninth year of printing. J.C. was so zealous for the spread of the Gospel that he would not want to miss any opportunity. His mind was always searching for ways to reach more people with the Gospel. When he learned in 1975 that radio was available in Sri Lanka (Ceylon at that time), for Gospel preaching beamed to India, he brought several men together to record lessons in different languages of the country. When he came to know that TV could be used in India, itself, he began to use that too. The Gospel of Christ was first and foremost on his mind.
As I look back to many years of working together with J.C. in the kingdom of our Lord, I am reminded of what the voice from heaven instructed John to pen about those who die in the Lord in Revelation 14:13. Yes, we know he is no more with us on this eanh, but he still speaks. and will continue to speak and lead many to obey the truth.
HAROLD AND ULANI THOMAS. SRI LANKA . ..
Brother Reggie taught me the way of the Truth for almost one year before I rendered obedience in 1986 and thereafter married Lilani. During these times I came to know how our late beloved brother J.C. had come to Sri Lanka over 40 years ago, and was instrumental in establishing the Lord's church in our beautiful island. One of the first converts had been our late dear brother Reggie.
Over the years J.C. and Betty had been constantly visiting Sri Lanka and continued teaching the "whole council of God" to the church. In doing this great vocation, he flooded us with all possible literature on the basics and the advanced pure Christian doctrine. Those valuable materials were of immense importance to the growing church and J.C. believed firmly that the investment in pure Christian doctrine is very profitable.
As years went on, it was Lilani and I who would go to the airport to get JC and Betty, and as usual he comes with more than 5 full suitcases of radio tapes and many types of Christian books. I felt so sorry for him and told him, "Let me carry these bags, J.C." "Harold, don't even think about it," he told me. As I was in my mid-thirties I tried carrying those bags. Believe me, if I did, my arm would have come on! (As I write this, my eyes are filled with tears.) This is how JC worked for the Lord. He stood for all the doctrinal truth as a barge!
One day I asked him, "J.C., can a man become an elder in the church having one faithful child?" "There are many arguments on this issue, Harold, but as for me the Bible says to be an elder you must have believing children, and children means more than one. Till I die I will only follow the Bible."
To the church in Sri Lanka J.C. was the perfect mentor, and as the years went by, he was instrumental in helping to raise the necessary funds from the churches in USA to erect a church building in Colombo. We have faced many ups and downs but brother J.C. stood with us through all. His sickness and the eventual death of the physical body were a shock to us, but as all Christians know from the Truth. JC will have a place prepared for him by our Lord.
To J.C., MY OTHER FATHER - Lilani
How can I describe the confusion in a 6 year old girl's mind when her father introduced a big. tall white man as "Brother JC"? My confusion was. how can one's name be two letters in the alphabet? It was explained that the two letters were really his name and not his initials. Let me tell you all that it was not easy to comprehend.
As the years went by, the older I got, it was not difficult to see how hard it was for JC to be traveling to our part of the world, carrying so much of luggage, mainly books and tapes, but never was he with out a smile and a joke. Be sure did love his Lord with the strong belief in the risen Savior and to follow our Lord's final command to go and tell the good news. If it was not for JC, our souls would have been damned, and that's a frightening thought. When my husband Harold and I were in Zambia for two years, as we preparing for the trip, our first request went to JC for the address of the church and a contact over there - and our plea to visit with us, as I had not lived anywhere without my family. Well, folks, he did visit us and he stayed a week. How can I explain the joy I felt in my heart when I saw him at the airport? My own papa was represented through him. At that moment my father and JC were one.
In 1985 when I brought my papa to the US for heart surgery, after his recovery we went to Winona. JC, for the first time in my life, introduced me to a 25-pound watermelon. What can I say? My love affair with food goes back as long as I can remember.
From 1968 till today, JC and Betty have been a part of our lives through our joys and tragedies, sickness and health. Now I am 44 years old, I have lost physically my papa on the 8th of June 2007 and JC on the 1st of February 2008. Now, by our Lord's grace, my husband Harold is continuing the work started by JC and my papa. Harold baptized his Bible student of 2 1/2 years on the 19th of April '08. This is his first baptism and it was so emotional for me, as I felt J.C.'s and Papa's presence strongly.
I would like to place on record our gratitude to all the Christian brethren in different congregations in the US for the support you have given brother JC all these years, that has enabled us to know the Truth. God bless you all.
I stand to bear witness of the great sacrifice and the dedication of this one man. How hard it is to leave all comforts and safety of home and to come to our part of the world, and face the heat, mosquitoes, political unrest, different kinds of food and to sleep in different beds. Unless there is a fire inside to go out and reach the lost, it is a huge task to undertake for so many years, non-stop.
Is it so surprising that he won the heart of a little girl of 6 who now, at 44, is still confused: how can one be named with two letters in the alphabet'? I love you, papa JC, and hope to see you soon.
Source: The Voice Of Truth International, Volume 57, 83-105
Directions To The Grave Of J.C. Choate
J.C. Choate is buried in Winona, Mississippi's Oakwood Cemetery. Midway between Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee on I-55, take Exit 185, Hwy. 82 and head east a couple miles and take the Hwy. 51 exist south. Go into Winona and turn right on Powell St. Enter the cemetery at the first entrance to your left. Make your way to the rear of the cemetery. By the fact that the headstone is black marble, it should be easy to locate. When I visited the grave the first time, I only looked for a black headstone, and I just about drove right to it. It is a beautiful edifice, and the photos are below.
J.C. Feb. 6, 1932 - Feb. 1, 2008
Betty Burton - June 26, 1940 -
The World Was Our Home
The Gospel Was Our Mission
Go Ye Into All The World
And Preach The Gospel To Every Creature.
He That Believeth And Is Baptized Shall Be Saved;
But He That Believeth Not Shall Be Damned Mark 16:15,16
You Couldn't Know
And I Couldn't Know
All Thos Long Undeveloped Years Ago
How Right You Would Be For Me
But God Knew
Darla, Sheila, Steve and Brad