RICHMOND — On Feb. 10, 1951, Bill Wallace, a Southern Baptist missionary serving in Wuchow, China, died in a Communist prison cell.
Wallace, who was born in Knoxville, served 16 years as a medical missionary in China.
Since his death, generations of Southern Baptists in his hometown and around the world have loved and revered Dr. Wallace for his enduring legacy of faith and his commitment to the Chinese people.
On Feb. 10, 2014, 63 years to the day after Wallace’s death, IMB representatives and members of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville commemorated Wallace’s legacy by dedicating a plaque in a service at IMB’s International Learning Center outside Richmond. The plaque stands alongside the fountain on the ILC campus that was given in 1986 in Wallace’s memory by Roy Griesel of Edinburg, Texas.
“Bill Wallace would have been embarrassed by all the fuss,” said Mike Boyd, senior pastor of Wallace Memorial, which was named after the legendary Southern Baptist missionary.
“Nonetheless, it is fitting. … Bill Wallace’s legacy continues to provide living water.”
Describing Wallace’s lasting contributions, Boyd noted the large number of preachers, missionaries, and students currently studying in Southern Baptist seminaries who have gone out from Wallace Memorial. He also referenced the nearly $4 million the church has given to international missions through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering during his 16-year tenure.
Boyd’s remarks resonated in the campus setting, where scores of missionaries receive training each year for overseas service.
Southern Baptists and students of missionary movements may know Wallace best through the book, Bill Wallace of China, written by Jesse C. Fletcher. The book, originally published in 1963 and reprinted in 2008, brought Wallace’s missionary spirit to life and inspired those who would follow in his steps.
“In re-reading Bill Wallace of China, I was struck again by his quiet and gentle spirit and his commitment to the Chinese people,” said Clyde Meador, IMB’s executive vice president.
Recalling Wallace’s life verse, Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” Meador said, “His life reminds us that it is no tragedy to give our lives in service to Christ.”