The following is a tribute celebrating the life of Helen Jean Parks, who served as a missionary in Indonesia. She and husband Dr. Keith Parks helped start the missions program of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Dr. Parks began as the first Coordinator of CBF Global Missions in January 1993 and retired in 1999. Please keep Dr. Parks and the Parks Family in your prayers.
Helen Jean (Bond) Parks was born January 4, 1928, in Abilene, Texas, to W. D. and Lula Mae (Brunson) Bond. She graduated from Abilene High School where she worked on the student newspaper.
Helen Jean graduated magna cum laude from Hardin-Simmons in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in journalism. While at HSU, she worked on the Brand (the college newspaper) and as a part-time reporter for the Abilene Reporter News. She was a member of Alpha Chi, was selected to be included in Who’s Who Among American Students, was elected Senior Favorite, and was a member of the A Cappella Choir and the University Chorus.
After leaving HSU in 1948, Helen Jean served in various ministry roles: as Baptist campus minister for the three colleges in Springfield, Missouri: as Baptist campus minister at Sam Houston University in Huntsville, Texas, and at Rice University and Baylor University College of Medicine at Houston; as as youth and music director at First Baptist Church in Henrietta, Texas.
Helen Jean earned a Masters of Religious Education in 1951 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. In her second year of seminary Helen Jean accepted God’s call to foreign missions.
In 1952, Helen Jean married Keith Parks, and in 1954 shortly after the birth of their first son, Helen Jean and Keith were appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention) as missionaries to Indonesia. During their 14 years in Indonesia, while Keith served on the faculty of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Indonesia, Helen Jean taught music and religious education at the seminary, led the Indonesian seminary choir, worked in small churches training Indonesians as teachers, and held conversational English classes with Muslim faculty wives of the Diponegoro State University.
Helen Jean and Keith returned to the U.S. in 1968 when Keith was asked to be on the Mission Board staff, first as Area Director for Southeast Asia and then as President. She continued in her mission role as she spoke in churches and various conferences on missions, prayer, and the Christian life in the United States and around the world. She visited countries around the world to meet local Christian leaders and people, and to encourage missionary families. In 1983, she authored a valuable book on intercessory prayer for global missions entitled Holding the Ropes.
In 1994, she and Keith moved to Atlanta to help start the mission program for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
In 1987, Helen Jean was awarded the HSU Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2007, she was honored by the Logsdon School of Theology with the Jesse C. Fletcher Award for Distinguished Service in Missions. Her investment in serving the peoples of the world globally is continued through her children, their spouses, her grandchildren and spouses and many others whom she has impacted through the years.
She is survived by Robert Keith Parks, her husband of sixty-nine years; her four children (and spouses): Randall (and Nancy) Parks, Kent (and Erika) Parks, Eloise Parks, Stan (and Kay) Parks; her seven grandchildren (and spouses): Jenny Parks (and Kevin Gregson), Jeff (and Hannah) Parks; Katy (and Keith) Leech, Lindsay Parks, Nöel Parks (and Anil Rajvaidya), Kaleb (and Whitney) Parks, Seth Parks; and her three great-grandchildren: Sterling Parks, Lewis Gregson, and Joy Leech; and by other much-loved extended family.
Helen Jean Parks was a very gifted person who could have pursued a variety of careers. She chose to serve her Lord Jesus and His peoples of the world as an intercessor, a missionary and an equipper/encourager of missionaries. A quote by C.T. Studd captures well her life-long attitude:
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Helen Jean Parks sought to do the will of God in everything in her life. On September 13, 2021, she passed from this life and entered into the Lord’s heavenly presence! She is now experiencing her “forever life!” While she was not perfect, she definitely gave it her all. We are excited for her as she is more vibrantly alive than she has ever been. She is in the presence of her beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, along with beloved family members as well as people who are there because she was used to bring them to Jesus. What a reunion and celebration she is experiencing with them as they worship Jesus together!
We believe that like the two servants who were given 5 talents and two talents, she has now been greeted with these words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25: 21, 23).
The family suggest donations to share the Gospel has not been heard be given through Beyond (beyond.org) in lieu of flowers.