Oklahoma Baptist University

Avery T. Willis

Dr. Avery T. Willis Jr. was a renowned leader in global missions. He retired from the International Mission Board as senior vice president for overseas operations in 2004. An Arkansas native, Willis was a 1956 OBU graduate. He and his wife, Shirley, served as missionaries to Indonesia for 14 years before returning stateside in 1978.

Widely known for his work in creating the MasterLife discipleship materials, Willis headed adult discipleship programs for LifeWay Christian Resources before moving to the IMB’s administrative staff in 1993. After retirement, he moved to Bella Vista, Ark. After his retirement, Willis continued active work in missions, traveling internationally approximately 25 weeks per year. He served as a consultant to missionaries, as well as chairman of Epic Partners, a coalition of global missionary organizations, including the IMB, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Youth With A Mission.

He also was the executive director of the International Orality Network, a partnership of major missions organizations committed to using oral strategies such as “chronological Bible storying” as a means of evangelizing and discipling approximately 70 percent of the world’s population which is functionally illiterate.

Willis died Friday, July 30, 2010, at his home in Bella Vista, Ark., after being diagnosed with leukemia in January. He was 76. To read more about Willis and his funeral services, please click here.

To visit the Avery T. Willis Website to learn more about his ministry, please click here.