On the day of Betty Malone’s memorial service in early October, everyone stood quietly in the chapel as the flags of the nations rippled down the aisle, carried by the WMU women of First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi.
The rippling flags portrayed Malone’s love for the nations — and the ripple effect her ministry had for the Kingdom of God. “She loved every nation of the world, she prayed for them and she sent people on mission. She touched generations in her impact for Christ,” said Cindy Townsend, minister of WMU and women’s enrichment activities at First Baptist and former WMU Foundation board member.
Malone served from 1985 to 1991 as the church’s minister of WMU and women’s enrichment activities, the position Townsend serves in now. During that time, Townsend served as the student minister, and they worked closely together to start missions groups for the youth.
“She was a missions enthusiast and a radiant Christian woman of God,” Townsend said. “She was so foundational to holding the missions banner high, especially for missions education at our church.”
Malone had been there at a strategic point in time, Townsend said. “She had the ear of the men as well as the women. And whenever the men would want to get something done, she would say with a twinkle in her eye and a big smile, ‘Now if you really want something done in the church, get the WMU to do it. They are the ones who pray and rally people to give and participate.’”
Malone was a trailblazer who impacted many, Townsend said. Not only that — she believed in missions.
Malone loved her family, teaching music and making the name of Jesus Christ known. Her family wrote in her obituary that if there was one organization that was “most dear” to her, it would be WMU.
At Malone’s memorial service, her son, Drew, shared about how when he and his brothers were growing up, they never knew who was going to be at the dinner table. Frequently they found themselves sitting next to dignitaries and missionaries from all over the world.
Townsend said that was “just Betty” — she had the gift of hospitality and a winsome way that just made you want to get to know her. She was always inviting people into their home.
“If you were around her, she genuinely wanted to know you,” Townsend said.
At the reception after her memorial service, her love for people and the world was evident — it was a “Betty celebration,” Townsend said. Dozens of people stood around having desserts and telling stories about Malone’s life and how she had impacted them. It was “a beautiful tribute to a woman who had a heart for the world,” Townsend said. “She had such a vision for preschool, RAs, GAs, Acteens, Women on Mission — she wanted to impact the Kingdom, and I know she did just that. She definitely impacted me.”
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Written by Grace Thornton.