Beryle and Elouise Lovelace have enjoyed a full and rewarding life, marriage and Christian ministry. Both were raised as preacher’s kids, but neither ever dreamed of becoming a missionary to Japan for twenty-nine years. Beryle says of the days of ministry spent in Japan, “It’s a beautiful part of our life.”
Elouise grew up in Greenville, Texas where her dad, Coral V. Roberts, was a pastor until he finished his seminary studies. Then there was a move to Missouri and then back to Greenville. Her dad pastored small churches and eventually became the Hunt County Director of Missions, in affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He held this position for twenty years and made many contributions to Baptist work in Hunt County.
Beryle is a native of west Texas, born in Levelland and graduated from Morton High School in Morton, Texas, where his dad, Weaver E. Lovelace, was then serving as a Baptist pastor. The Lovelaces’ roots were established in the western part of the state in 1913 when his great grandfather settled in Terry County, near Brownfield, TX.
Beryle’s father surrendered to the Gospel ministry in 1931 and the First Baptist Church of Brownfield licensed him to preach. His career as a pastor led him from Ropesville, Texas to Vernon, Texas, to Morton, Texas, then to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Las Vegas, New Mexico, and back to Texas, and West Kentucky Avenue Baptist in Midland before retiring there in 1973.
As Beryle’s education began, he was a Pre-Med student at Howard Payne College. He attended Howard Payne because Dr. Z.T. Huff was the dean, who had been the dean of Wayland College when his parents attended there in the 1930’s. He remembers, “When my parents went to school I ran up and down the hallways of Wayland. Dr. Huff taught me my ABC’s and how to count. I was also the official ‘taster’ for Mrs. Huff in the Home Economics Department. It was a family affair. So, I went to Howard Payne because of Dr. Huff.”
Beryle was at Howard Payne for a year, then his parents moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attended the University of New Mexico for a semester in 1946 and this is when God changed his heart and his major from Pre-Med to Religious Education. Beryle says, “The Lord got my attention in New Mexico.”
At that time, Beryle was very active with the Baptist Student Union and all their activities. He was so involved that he wasn’t focused on school, but on ministry. And in the Fall of 1946 there were so many young men and women returning from the war that the school was inundated with them. The students were informed that a certain percentage of them would fail, regardless of grades (Now, there’s a way to build good students and confidence!).
So, one thing led to another and the handwriting was on the wall that Pre-Med was over. He didn’t finish the semester that year, but was very active in the music ministry of Pete Forderhase at the First Baptist Church. (It is always amazing to look back at our lives and see how God places things, places and people along the way to get us to where He wants us.)
Beryle remembered the very special evening when his life changed direction, to never be the same again. He was waiting for an area on his dad’s irrigation farm to fill up before going to bed. “The Lord just got hold of my heart and we spent some time there. I don’t know how long, but the border of the reservoir was running over when I came to my senses.”
As a result of this encounter with Jesus, an agreement was reached. “The agreement was that If I was provided opportunities for the rest of the school year and summer, in revivals and other areas of Christian service, I would know that I was to leave Pre-Med studies and enter full time Christian service. By April I knew because I was completely booked, a full schedule for the year.” That was His answer and Beryle has been in the Christian Music and Education field ever since.
Now, it was back to Howard Payne. He had met Elouise there in the Spring. They both sang in the Madrigal Singers group and saw each other during performances and rehearsals. They were also in the Music Department together as well as various singing groups.
Elouise said, “We never dated in college. We were there together for special student events.” One such event was Sadie Hawkins Day in 1948/49. This was when the girls would ask the guys for a date. Elouise took advantage of this opportunity and asked Beryle for a date. She says, “We had a Coke date that night.” That Coke date has lasted many years now and led these two Christian servants through some very rewarding days of ministry. Beryle said, “Church work is all we know, John.”
But they didn’t start officially dating until after Elouise graduated from Howard Payne. She had her major in Music Education and began teaching school in Saltillo, Texas for one year and later at Wolf City, Texas. So theirs was a long distance courtship because Beryle was still in Brownwood.
Being preacher’s kids, it was only fitting that they be married under the auspices of the pastors. Elouise’s father performed the ceremony, in June 1952, and Beryle’s pastor father was his best man. The honeymoon was in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and then they settled in San Angelo, Texas. Over the next few years Beryle would serve in various Baptist churches as Music and Education Director.
Beryle had been encouraged by his former pastor, Bill Shamburger, to continue to serve and also pursue his seminary degree. Then, while at First Baptist Church in Brownfield, Texas, “The Lord got our attention for missions,” Beryle says. “We found out that when the Lord wants you to do something and you commit to it, you had better get your coat on because He has things ready to go.”
“This was in November, and by January we were called to Bethany Baptist Church in Dallas with seminary privileges,” Beryle remembers. He would commute to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth as he began his Master of Religious Education degree and they began the procedure for their application to the mission field.
Beryle had asked the Mission Board to have a decision for them by the time he earned his MRE degree. There would be no reason to continue with the required third year if their application was not accepted. The Monday after graduation the Director of Personnel called and informed them that they had not been approved. This was, of course, disappointing but they took it in stride and determined to support missions in local churches. But God wasn’t finished yet and He had a plan.
After arriving home from these intense six weeks the Lovelaces attended Foreign Missions Week at Glorieta Baptist Encampment. While there, Beryle cornered Jess Fletcher, who had informed them of their rejected application. “The fire in our heart is still burning for missions. We feel God wants us somewhere.” He told them that they should reapply. They did and everything was good to go except the one final year of seminary that was required.
Then their pastor, Bob Longshore, stepped in and called Jess Fletcher, “There ought to be an exception for a man with fifteen years’ experience serving in Baptist churches and who has his seminary degree.” Dr. Fletcher said that, yes, they were initiating a new program to do just that. It was to be called the Missionary Associate Program and it was designed to permit a person to go in response to a particular request from a mission for a job for one term, with a slim possibility of a second term, that didn’t require language learning.
“At the moment, we have one request from all the mission fields,” Dr. Fletcher explained. “It is from a church in Japan wanting a music and education director.” In November 1964, Beryle received a call from Dr. Fletcher’s assistant saying, “You can pack your bags now if you feel that God is leading in this way.” They, of course, saw this as a tailor made opportunity for them and they began their orientation in January of 1965.
“June 15, 1965 we sailed on the USS Roosevelt from San Francisco to Japan. We docked in Yokohama, Japan on June 26, the night before Elouise’s birthday,” Beryle remembers. “The next morning a group of missionaries and a group from the church met us and took us to the San Bancho Hotel and we started our life in Japan.”
The Lovelaces would serve there for the next twenty-nine years. I would say the “slim possibility of a second term” was realized for them in a most powerful way.
The next six months was Japanese language study for these two Texans (A tall task indeed!). Kanto Plains Baptist Church is where they began serving, and the Mission provided a Japanese language instructor to come to their house three days a week to give them private lessons. I asked them if the Japanese language was difficult to learn and they both assured me that it was. They said, “Yes, definitely – very, very difficult.” Beryle says, “Even after spending almost thirty years there, we still were not proficient with the language.”
They would serve at Kanto Plains Baptist for nine years as Music and Education Director. At one juncture, when the pastor went home on furlough and was unable to return due to health issues, Beryle was asked to also preach on an interim basis. So, he led the music program and preached also for sixteen months until a new pastor arrived.
From here, Beryle was asked to move to Tokyo where he became the Assistant Business Manager, under Morris Wright, for The Japan Mission. He would remain in this position for thirteen years, during which time, he would also serve as the Business Manager and as Liaison for the eight English language churches in the division they were responsible for.
The Lovelaces were considering retiring at sixty-two years of age. They were sixty at the time and the administrator realized the two-year time frame was just barely enough time to qualify and train a replacement. So the Executive Committee looked for and found a missionary that was already on the field who was qualified to fill his position. Ed Jordan had the experience and training and was called to fill Beryle’s position. (I wrote Ed’s story also. See “Reluctant to Japan” and “Homemade Ice Cream” from 2015.) If this was to occur, Ed would be on the job before Beryle was sixty-two, and interrupt his retirement schedule.
So, again, God would have a change of plans for the Lovelaces. The pastor of Koza Baptist Church in Okinawa, one of the Executive Board members, realized the dilemma and asked Beryle to come and be his music director and director of discipleship training for the two years that were left. They accepted this invitation and Beryle said, “We loved working in that church so much that we ended up staying nearly six years. So we decided to retire at sixty-five instead.”
“So we came home in December 1992 and retired in September 1993,” Beryle says. Since then, Beryle has been the part-time minister of music at Creekside Baptist Church in Richardson for several years. He sings with the Singing Men of North Central Texas and he and his wonderful wife, Elouise, enjoy and are very proud of their two children and two grandchildren.
Beryle and Elouise Lovelace – Examples for Christians everywhere of dedication to God’s calling and work. Thank you, my dear friends, for sharing your story.