Justice Anderson caps career focused on world missions
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Whether he is called “Mr. Missions” or “Uncle Justo,” Justice Anderson is described by his colleagues as a man who has humbly laid big footprints across Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and around the world.
After more than 50 years in Christian ministry, Anderson, director emeritus of Southwestern's World Missions Center and George W. Bottoms professor of missions, retired after the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary’s spring semester.
"Justice Anderson has brought a wholesome commitment, deep spirit and easygoing cheerfulness to the task of helping students understand the meaning of carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth," said Robert Garrett, director of the World Missions Center. "He has always had a narrowly focused mission but a breadth of methods, ideas and strategies that are believed and practiced by missionaries on every continent on the globe."
Anderson earned a bachelor of arts in 1950 and a master of arts in 1951 from Baylor University. He received a master of divinity in 1955 and doctor of theology in 1965 from Southwestern.
"I was 13 years old when I surrendered to special service, 17 years old when I was called to preach and 19 years old when I surrendered to pastoral ministry," Anderson recounted. "On a Saturday afternoon in Franklin, Texas, in 1955, my wife and I knelt on the living room floor of a two-story parsonage and made a commitment to seek an appointment to be foreign missionaries. It was the first time we took hands off and surrendered completely to the will of God."
The Andersons were missionaries to Argentina, from 1959-74, during which time he was professor of church history and homiletics at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires. He also served as president of the Argentine Baptist Mission in 1965 and 1972; vice president of the Argentine Baptist Convention, 1962 and 1965; and interim president of the seminary from 1968-69.
After their return to the States, he served in several pastorates and interim pastorates in Texas, Oklahoma and Connecticut.
"My purpose in coming to Southwestern was to be a promoter of the missionary call, be an efficient teacher of missions and ultimately to start the World Missions Center," Anderson said.
"My dream was to set up the World Missions Center to integrate the three schools (theology, Christian education and music) and coordinate the missions phase of Christian service." The World Missions Center was founded in 1980.
"Anderson's most enduring legacy is the number of students and missionaries he has encouraged, guided and helped in the vast dimensions of their work," Garrett said.
Anderson's publications include “A Manual of Homiletics in Spanish,” “A Study of Baptist Ecclesiology in Spanish,” “A History of the Baptists, Volumes I, II and III” (in Spanish), numerous articles in Spanish and English for theological journals and numerous book reviews and film reviews for missiological and theological journals.
"If spreading the gospel to the whole world is a requisite for the return of Christ, Justice and Mary Ann Anderson have done far more than their share in securing the imminent return of the Prince of Peace," said Southwestern's Bill Tolar, distinguished professor of biblical backgrounds and special consultant to the president.
In a recent address to new missionary appointees, Anderson gave four suggestions for successful service: 1) don't run from God's calling; it's the safest, happiest, most fulfilling place for you and your family; 2) plan to stay all your life where you are, but be ready and sensitive for surprises from God you do not seek; 3) don't run ahead of God's calling; it gets frustrating and frightfully lonely trying to do it by yourself; and 4) run with God down avenues of exciting service.
Anderson compared his missionary journey to a World War II bombardier song: “We're coming in on a wing and a prayer, what a show, what a fight, boy, we really hit our target tonight.”
"Opposition is out there," Anderson said, "but satisfaction is when we hit our target. Hit your target, let God have his way and experience the enjoyment of fulfilled service."