The Life Story of our own Foreign Missionary
Barlow “Frank” Mead
Frank was born January 3, 1941 in Richmond, Virginia into a Christian family active in their church. Frank was baptized at the age of 12 years. In 1961 at age 21, he married Janet Harris, they had grown up together. They would have three daughters Betsy, Karen and Wendy. In 1971, Frank moved his family to St. Simons Island, Georgia for a new job opportunity. They soon joined St. Simons First Baptist Church.
In 1976, Frank obtained a Fishing Captain License and began conducting fishing expeditions in the local rivers, creeks and ocean. In 1979, Frank and Janet began operating the fishing dock for the Cloister Hotel which was owned by the Sea Island Company.
Frank would later state in his testimony that he had wandered further and further away from God and the church. He stated that the size of the church was intimidating and he did not feel connected. While Janet and the girls were very involved with the church, Frank stayed in the background.
In 1993, Britt Elrod, a member of St. Simons Baptist Church who had already been to Honduras on a mission trip, let Frank know that they had one opening on the next trip. Frank volunteered and was soon on his way to his first of many mission trips. On this trip in Honduras, Frank met a Lay Preacher named Jackie Petree. Frank would later say in his testimony; “Jackie explained God’s plan of salvation in a way I understood. God opened my mind! I was reborn!” During that trip, Frank said “I accepted God’s grace and the chains were lifted. I was on the Mountain Top!” He would say later that the mission trips kept him on the Mountain Top.
Frank said that he had smoked cigarettes for 42 years and had made many attempts to quit. He gave God all the credit for him to put them down once Frank put God in control of his life. He went on to say in his testimony; “Once I rededicated my life to Christ, I discovered some very important truths. 1) You pretty much get out of life what you put into it. 2) It is more blessed to give than receive.” He went on to say that the mission trips were his way of giving even though he received more than he gave.
The mission trips that Frank participated in were always involved with construction. They would build and repair roads that helped move many people from very remote areas back to cities that could provide jobs, supplies and materials. They built churches, pastor’s homes, barns, storage buildings, etc. He worked on crews that would go out into the rain forest and cut down trees, bring the trees back to camp and operate a huge saw and convert the trees to lumber. He worked on crews that would make cinder blocks from scratch to be used in building the structures already mentioned. The equipment and vehicles available were mostly already well used before they got to mission sites. This required a great deal of resourcefulness and ingenuity to keep them functioning. Frank was a very good mechanic, electrician, A/C technician and all around handy man. Frank made a huge impact on these crews.
From 1993 till 2010 Frank went to either Honduras or Nicaragua every year. Due to the nature of his job, he could go for weeks at a time.
In 1998, a small knot developed on Frank’s side and it turned out to be malignant. The doctor removed the knot and even though there was no other indication of cancer anywhere else, they put Frank through aggressive radiation therapy. Once Frank got his strength back, he was back on the mission trail. All seemed to be good health wise until 2003 when the doctor found a mass on Frank’s back. The tumor was on the 4th lumbar vertebra. They began Chemo therapy and after the third treatment, Frank woke up and he could not breathe. They took him to the doctor and found his blood pressure; temperature and heart rate were not good. His body system was shutting down. He went into a coma and the family was called in, he was not expected to wake. Frank’s hospital room was filled with family and friends around the clock praying, fellowshipping and loving on Frank. Twelve days later, he woke up and went through a very rough recovery. During this time he would need a wheel chair and back brace and drugs for pain. Frank later said “I was on the fence with earth on one side and heaven on the other.” Apparently, it was God’s will for him to stay on earth.
Frank would regain his mobility and again become active in God’s work. He would go back to the mission field but would be much more careful due to his condition.
In 2010, Frank began to have breathing issues and would eventually have to be on oxygen at all times. Frank went to be with his Lord and Savior on March 23, 2012. He has been an incredible inspiration to many of our church members, church staff and the many missionaries he served beside over the years. We thank God for blessing our church family with such a loving and selfless man of God.