Dr. Francis (Frank) Hendrickson, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumnus, passed away at his home of 22 years, in Garland, Texas on January 3, 2023, at the age of 95.
Frank was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on April 28, 1927. When Frank’s mother passed away a few years later in 1931, Frank and his father, Frank L. Hendrickson, went to live with friends of the family while his two sisters were placed with other relatives. The friends became foster parents for Frank, and he became a part of their family.
At the age of 14, while Frank was a freshman in high school, he was baptized into the fellowship of the First Baptist Church of Pedricktown, New Jersey. This church continued to play an important part of Frank’s life for decades. Throughout the years that Frank and his family later spent in Congo, First Baptist Church, Pedricktown was considered their home church. First Baptist provided support, including the gifting of a small electrical generator which Frank used to create a lighted study hall for students at Milundu. This Pedricktown congregation was spreading the light in more ways than one.
After high school Frank studied at both Montclair (NJ) State Teachers and Teachers College, Columbia University. In 1955 an opportunity came for Frank to use his teaching and administration training for God in Dallas, Texas. He became the principal of the Dallas Christian Grade School. It was here that Frank met Phyllis Martin, who was gaining practical teacher experience at the school. They were married two years later, on August 23, 1957.
Frank and Phyllis moved to New Jersey to gain more teaching experience and training. Phyllis had a lifelong dream of becoming a foreign missionary. Though they frequently thought of the need for missionaries Frank shared that he had yielded himself to God to be used by Him, but never seriously considered going to the mission field. His wife often urged him to think and pray about the mission field.
It wasn’t long before Frank was asked to teach the Juniors group in the School of Missions at the church. In preparation for his teaching, he searched for the message from God’s word that would challenge the young people and fill them with a desire to go to the mission field. Frank later wrote, “I don’t know how many of them decided, but God spoke to my own heart through the School of Missions and called me to go.”
Frank and Phyllis were appointed missionaries of the ABFMS in May of 1963, designated to serve in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Upon completion of Frank’s Ed. D. at Columbia University, the Hendrickson family spent a year studying French language in Brussels, Belgium.
In 1965, Frank and Phyllis, along with their sons, Bruce and Greg, arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From 1965-1969 they served in Vanga where Frank was director of the Milundu High School and teacher of education classes. Phyllis worked with the women and taught English and religion. During their first furlough, or home assignment, the family lived in Wisconsin where Frank and Phyllis did further study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In 1970 Frank and Phyllis requested an extended furlough and Frank accepted the position of associate professor of education at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In early 1970 they welcomed a daughter, Kym to the family.
In 1972 they returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo, with two sons and a daughter, to serve in Nsona Mpangu. It was a challenging time as there was a lack of teachers, and the morale of the teachers was correspondingly low. Many students were sleeping on the floor, having to fend for themselves to find and prepare their own food. The Hendricksons dealt with a lot of illness making the first year back discouraging. Things did begin to change for the better, answers to prayers from near and far. Frank and Phyllis, working with strong local leaders persevered and they began to see the school turn around. Within a year the school had all the teachers it needed and three meals a day were being served to the students. In 1974, with good leadership in place in Nsona Mpangu, the Hendrickson family returned to the United States.
The family lived in Tulsa, OK where Frank became a principal in the Union School District. He had the privilege of organizing and opening a new elementary school – Boevers Elementary School.
Then in 1977 Frank and Phyllis were employed as missionary associates by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board to serve in Mombasa, Kenya from 1977-1982. Frank served as headmaster of Mombasa Baptist High School in Mombasa.
When they returned to the United States, Frank was the principal at Valley View Christian High school in Dublin, California for two years. They then moved to Oklahoma where Frank was the superintendent at Emmanuel Christian School in Broken Arrow. In 1988 Frank and Phyllis returned to the Dallas area where Frank finished his career teaching at David W. Carter High School serving inner city youths – he was affectionately known as ‘Dr Hen’ by his students. In 1995-1996 Frank and Phyllis returned to Mombasa, Kenya where Frank served as administrator at the interdenominational Lighthouse For Christ Ophthalmology Clinic. The last overseas assignment for Frank and Phyllis were as volunteers in Bangkok, Thailand from 1998-2003 where they served at the Baptist Student Center.
Frank was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis, in 2015 and his son, Ralph Gregory in 2021.
He is survived by son Bruce (Karen) Hendrickson and daughter, Kym (Shane) Skiles, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Frank and Phyllis will be together at Dallas National Cemetery once the Veterans Administration provides a date. Arrangements for a Memorial service remain pending.