‘Dub’ Jackson – partnership missions ‘pioneer,’ SWBTS distinguished alumnus – dies at 95

January 22nd, 2020 / By: James A. Smith Sr. | Southwestern Seminary / comments

‘Dub’ Jackson – partnership missions ‘pioneer,’ SWBTS distinguished alumnus – dies at 95

William “Dub” Henry Jackson Jr., the “pioneer” of partnership missions that would result in one-half million professions of faith in Christ, died on Jan. 19 in Fort Worth after an extended illness. He was 95 years old.

The 1998 distinguished alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary began his life on the school’s campus, where he was born in 1924 while his father was a student, and his last years were spent on Seminary Hill, where he lived investing his passion for missions in students.

A World War II P-38 fighter pilot who saw combat in the Pacific, Jackson would later go on to become a missionary to the Japanese people he once fought and develop a new strategy of missions work – partnership missions, in which lay people were encouraged to become short-term missionaries themselves, rather than only those called to full-time missions.

Southwestern Seminary leaders offered praise of Jackson as news broke that the longtime “Southwesterner” had passed away.

“Dub Jackson was one of God’s choice servants who was mightily used to bring the hope of the gospel not only to his beloved Japan and across Asia, but literally around the world through his work,” said President Adam Greenway.

Mike Morris, associate professor of missions and also a former IMB missionary, published an article in the Southwestern Journal of Theology in 2014 noting Jackson’s pioneering missions work.

“Dub’s most amazing and effective partnership campaign was in April 1963 in which 549 Americans went to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore at the nationals’ invitation, and they witnessed more than 45,000 people praying to receive the Lord during the six weeks of the campaign. About 25,000 of them were Japanese,” Morris wrote in the fall 2014 issue of the journal. “Through partnership missions as an FMB [Foreign Mission Board] missionary and as leader of World Evangelism Foundation, Dub led one hundred nationwide campaigns in more than fifty countries with more than 500,000 people praying to receive the Lord.”

Former Southern Baptist Convention president Jimmy Draper, reflecting on the 1963 Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference in which Jackson made the appeal for the Japan New Life Crusade, said he “electrified those who attended. I still tingle just thinking about that night and his remarkable challenge.” For many years, Draper served as board chairman of the World Evangelism Foundation, founded by Jackson after leaving the then Foreign Mission Board, which initially resisted the partnership missions strategy.

Noting the International Mission Board later embraced partnership missions, Draper added, “I often contemplate what our convention would be like if Dub Jackson had not been God’s chosen vessel to arouse the conscience and compassion of Southern Baptists to the strategic importance of partnership missions.”

In a November 2015 interview with Dub and Doris (who would die less than a month later) the Jacksons reflected on their life of missionary service. The interview was conducted by Keith Eitel, former dean of the Fish School, and is available in the W.H. Dub Jackson Digital Materials Collection in the seminary’s digital archives. 

Jackson compared his time in the military to his missions work, saying in each “you have to be ready to go all out. There’s no partial commitment to missions. There’s no partial commitment to combat. You’re either for it or you’re not. You either go all out or you don’t.”

At the end of the war, Jackson was stationed in Japan during the U.S. occupation, where his firsthand observation of the destitute people turned his heart toward reaching them for Christ, although he initially opposed the idea of being a missionary to Japan.

“We were fresh from the jungles, where we were trained to destroy. And I don’t know specifically how the Lord did it, but he sure changed my feeling” toward the Japanese people, Jackson said. Reflecting on an experience with the impoverished people in Tokyo, he recalled during his time in college and seminary the “Lord kept in my mind … to get me back to Japan.”

After the war, Jackson completed his undergraduate degree at Hardin-Simmons University and seminary at Southwestern, during which time he led his first mission trip to Japan while a student in 1950, which saw some 2,200 Japanese became Christians.

That student mission trip was the beginning of what would become known as partnership missions.

“If we can do that, so could somebody else,” Jackson said. “So, we started asking other people to go, telling them what God had done [during the mission trip to Japan]. … And that motivated other people to go, and we didn’t have trouble in those days getting people to go. The Lord impressed them that it was urgent.”

Reflecting on the single greatest lesson God taught him in ministry, Jackson said in the 2015 interview with Eitel, “There’s no place God cannot give the victory. Don’t ever feel like you’ve hit a dead-end wall. God is able to give victory anywhere, anytime we look to him and ask.”

Jackson’s comments late in life are reminiscent of something he said in a 1954 letter written from Sapporo, Japan, after two years on the field as a missionary. 

“[W]e would not choose this pulpit because it could approach any of the good ole Texas Baptist churches, for it cannot as yet do that, but the place where God would have us serve has everything in its favor, if he is there and we will follow. That is our desire.”

Jackson was preceded in death by Doris, his wife of 68 years; his son, William H. (Bill) Jackson III; grandson Jered Jackson; sister May Bond; and brother-in-law, Colonel Vic Lipsesy. He is survived by his children, Shirley and Randy Roberts, Lynda and Mike Hughes, David and Darlyne Jackson, and Juanita and Steve Hayden; and daughter-in-law Susan Jackson; sister Annette Lipsey; 15 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren. 

Visitation will be held Thursday, Jan. 23, 6-8 p.m. at Laurel Land Funeral Home, 7100 Crowley Road in Fort Worth. The committal service will be held Friday, Jan. 24, at 9:15 a.m. at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. The memorial service will be held Jan. 24 at 11:30 a.m. at Laurel Land, with a reception to follow. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the Dub and Doris Scholarship Fund at Southwestern Seminary.