Source: HCJB Global
A missionary teacher and broadcaster whose work with HCJB Global spanned more than four decades, Helen Howard, died Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, at Go Ye Village in Tahlequah, Okla. She was 89.
Born into a Baptist minister's family in Pontiac, Mich., on March 29, 1920, Helen was raised in the Midwest. Missionaries, including HCJB Global co-founder Clarence Jones, were often in her parents' home. She went on to obtain a bachelor's degree in Christian education from Wheaton College in Illinois in 1942. While there she met Clayton Howard whom she later agreed to marry.
In 1942 she sailed to Ecuador to serve with Radio Station HCJB in Quito, joining Clayton who had arrived in the South American country about a year earlier. Her voyage required travel in blackout conditions due to a threat of enemy attack on the Chilean ship during World War II. A year earlier, the Howards' long-distance courtship had culminated in an on-air proposal on the live program, "The Back Home Hour."
Helen and Clayton's Sept. 12, 1942, wedding was also broadcast live on the international shortwave radio station. "They were probably the first couple to be married over shortwave radio so the folks back home could hear it," said Chuck Howard, their son who serves with HCJB Global in Ecuador. Helen's minister father in the U.S., along with Rev. Evan Welsh, pastor of Clayton's home church, had sent a recording of the complete service to Ecuador with Helen, only leaving gaps for "I do" from both Helen and Clayton.
During the next 42 years in Ecuador, Helen's passion was in child evangelism. She began holding child evangelism classes in her backyard, and as others joined these efforts it led to the founding of Iñaquito Evangelical Church in Quito where she was a deaconess and teacher. She also did home visitation and counseled for the church's Women's Society.
"I would often come home from school to find her in the front living room, leading someone to the Lord," said Chuck. "She won many people to the Lord."
Helen assisted Clayton as host of the ever-popular shortwave radio listeners' program, "DX Partyline," as well as answering English-language letters from listeners worldwide. And she was involved in Andes DXers International, or ANDEX, a shortwave listeners' club sponsored by Radio Station HCJB.
She also did secretarial work, helped in the record library and taught kindergarten. "We remember Helen as our neighbor in Quito for many years and the beloved teacher of the mission's Humpty Dumpty Nursery School," said HCJB Global's Doug Peters, now retired in Florida.
"My heart has always been with children's work," Helen said in an interview in 1988. "We enjoyed going into the country and holding classes with children. Adults would also attend."
The Howards retired and left Ecuador in 1984, living for about a decade in Florida before moving to Oklahoma.
In addition to her husband, Clayton, Helen is survived by three children—all involved in Christian work—as well as 11 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Her children include Leland, a pastor in Lamar, Mo.; Ruth Anne Leaf, who retired as a missionary to Japan; and Chuck, a missionary schoolteacher in Quito.
Helen's testimony and life continue to speak of her Savior. In Ecuador, Chuck received word of his mother's death 15 minutes before teaching his youth Sunday school class. His lesson preparation had been on the death of an Old Testament character, Abraham. "I taught the class and just shared from my heart," Chuck said. "Boy, those young people listened!"
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8, in the chapel of Go Ye Village. Memorial gifts in honor of Helen Howard may be designated either for HCJB Global or Go Ye Village. Memorial gifts may be sent to Clayton Howard in care of Go Ye Village.