Missionary family flings green and gold afar

Photo illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
Photo illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Names marked with * have been changed for security purposes

By Meghan Hendrickson

The day after her graduation from Baylor in May 1971, Annie Singer* walked out of Miller Chapel hand-in-hand with her new groom to the tune of “Now Thank We All Our God.”

Annie and her husband, George*, first met in the Baylor University Golden Wave Band before fall classes commenced in the late summer of 1967. George was a sophomore music theory major from Kentucky who played the trombone, and Annie was an incoming freshman music education major from Louisiana who played the flute.

“One evening after band practice, Annie wanted a tour of the campus,” George said. “After that, we met a lot of evenings just to talk.”

George said he was short on cash in college and did not own a car, so he and Annie took advantage of free concerts and sporting events during their time together at Baylor.

“The long band trips were really good for us,” George said, speaking of how his relationship with Annie developed.

Four years later, the couple found themselves committing their lives to one another before God in a green and gold Baylor-themed wedding.

After the two wed, George went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth and later became an associate pastor and minister of music at a church in Nevada, while Annie worked as an elementary school music teacher.

George said he felt God calling him to be a career missionary when he was taking a class about music in missions at SWBTS.

He had been raised in a Southern Baptist church, where he grew up learning about the International Mission Board (IMB), a missionary sending agency supported by Southern Baptist Churches in the United States.

George said in 1974 the IMB was looking for someone to be a music missionary in the Ivory Coast in West Africa. After he and Annie prayed about it for nearly three years, they felt the Lord leading them to move their family to the Ivory Coast with the IMB, he said.

Annie described her and George’s call to missions as “progressive.”

“I had prayed about what God wanted to do with my life as a teenager, not really committed to do it, but curious, and at one point God put in my heart the words music, missions and teaching,” Annie said. “I didn’t understand it, didn’t know if it was a call and never told anyone about it until Geroge came home from seminary library one night years later and told me he thought the Lord was calling him to missions.”

Still, she was skeptical. She doubted whether she could be a missionary.

“About three years later, at a music conference in New Mexico, it finally came together for both of us, and we knew the time to apply was then, if we were to be obedient,” Annie said.

In November of 1977, George and Annie were appointed as career missionaries with the IMB while Annie was pregnant with their first child.

In July of 1978, Annie gave birth to a son. Within a matter of months, the family of three moved to France for a year of language study with the IMB.

In 1979, they packed up and moved to the Ivory Coast to serve as missionaries to people who have never heard the gospel message of Jesus Christ — those whom Christian missionaries consider “unreached,” George said.

Today, 33 years later, the Singers still serve as missionaries to the people of the Ivory Coast.

The couple shares Bible stories with men and women in the villages, through a practice referred to by missionaries as “Chronological Bible Storying.”

Annie and George said their favorite part about what they do is telling Bible stories to people who are hearing them for the first time.

“Can you imagine telling these stories to people who have never heard them before?” Annie said. “There’s nothing like it.”

George and Annie passed down their passions for Jesus, music, missions, Africa and Baylor to their children.

Their son graduated from Baylor in 2000 and is currently in the process of moving to West Africa to be a missionary with a missionary sending agency.

Their daughter, Bethany*, was born in the Ivory Coast in 1980, and said she grew up seeing her parents share the love of Jesus with others through music and Bible stories.

She graduated from Baylor’s five-year music education program in 2003.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Bethany was an elementary music teacher in Killeen for one year before she decided to study at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in 2004. Bethany earned her Master of Divinity from Truett in 2007.

During her time at Truett, Bethany was required to do a summer mentoring internship and the International Mission Board placed her in the Northern Africa and Middle East region as an English teacher.

“Some of my students were from a particular unreached [community],” Bethany said. “After meeting them, I felt the Lord drawing me toward those people to work with them, but I didn’t know how or why.”

Bethany said that summer she met with IMB personnel in the region and discovered they needed someone with her music skill sets to serve as a career missionary to the community she “felt a certain draw toward.”

She applied to be a career missionary with the IMB in the Northern Africa and Middle East region, was appointed and moved overseas to serve in 2009.

Bethany said there are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual challenges that come with being a missionary in the area where she lives. She travels and camps in desolate places, operates in bits and pieces of four different languages and must “live in faith instead of results,” she said.

But there is also deep joy in her work, she said.

“I most enjoy the face time with nomadic women: learning what it means to love people who have not felt permission to receive love; learning how to pray for them with insight; and stretching my faith to believe that Christ can and will fill them with life,” Bethany said.

Though they are stationed overseas, Annie, George and Bethany said they all continue to follow Baylor sports and are proud of their Baylor Bears – especially the football team.

George said he bleeds green and gold and looks forward to coming back to Baylor for homecoming each year once he and Annie retire from being missionaries in the Ivory Coast.

“I am greatly indebted to Baylor for challenging me to find out who I am in Christ, and for providing an atmosphere of faith in which to discover some guiding answers,” George said.