“Well done, good and faithful servant!”


These are the words of our Lord Jesus for those who have honoured Him in the use of their time, their gifts, their capabilities, with thcir whole lives. Words applicable to Paul Barr (pictured left with his wife Marilyn), as Mike Hammond reports

On Wednesday 21st October, 2015, our dear friend and colleague Paul Barr, one of Christ’s saints, was ushered into glory, and I am sure Paul would have heard those words face to face from His beloved Lord and Saviour. He was 70 years old, and two days shy of his 44th wedding anniversary.

Our sincere condolences are with his widow Marilyn, their children, Andrew, Jeremy and Cheryl, and their families, including seven grandchildren.

Paul’s death was sudden and unexpected for Marilyn and for all of us, though it is true he had been recovering from a bout of malaria.

Family gathering

However, he was recovering well, and had hosted a visit from SIM NZ colleagues only the day before at their Nanjoka farm. But it was not unexpected for his/our Lord Jesus. His son Jeremy was already back in Malawi for a visit, having recently moved to Zimbabwe. His daughter Cheryl was in transit between USA and Malawi, coming for both a business and personal visit. His other son Andrew had just received his new passport, and so was able to jump on a plane from Australia almost immediately. All were in Malawi for the funeral at the farm a few days later on Saturday 24th October, along with an estimated 1,500 others. People had come from all over Malawi and even from neighbouring Mozambique to be there, to honour Paul for the man he was and for all he had done.

SLC 2013: Mike Hammond presents Paul and Marilyn with a A plaque to mark 40 years’ service wAith AEF and SIM Malawi

Malawi born

Paul Knox Barr was born at Malamulo hospital in Malawi’s Thyolo district on 5th June 1945. His parents, Robert and Elinor Barr, were missionaries with Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF), based with the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) in the small rural village of Chididi in Nsanje district, southern Malawi. Paul grew up here in Malawi with occasional visits back to the USA from where his parents had originated. He went to school in Zambia and Zimbabwe, followed by college in the USA, where he studied agriculture and Biblical studies. He also served four years in the United States Navy. He and Marilyn, the daughter of Canadian AEF missionaries in Zambia, were married in the USA on 23rd October 1971.

Paul and Marilyn returned to Malawi in 1974 to commence their own

40-year period of missionary service with AEF (continuing with SIM) in discipleship, practical and building work, and nursing roles, firstly in Lulwe (also in Nsanje), then Blantyre, where Paul was field leader for ten years, and most recently, at Nanjoka in Salima, and the lakeshore area since 2000. Paul was also ordained as a minister within the AEC.

Remembering Paul’s characteristics

As people sent in messages of condolence to SIM and to Marilyn, I was reminded of a number of Paul’s characteristics through words used to describe him – humble, teacher, mentor, inspiration, selfless, servant, witness, faithful, influencer,

disciple-maker, man of God, counsellor, gentleness – and the list could go on. A list of words that of course also describe our Lord Jesus. Paul gave his life to Jesus, and followed him passionately, obediently, reverently. Paul had a wonderful discipleship ministry and many at the funeral stood in testimony, that their lives had been influenced for Christ by Paul. Paul was not a man of programs, but a man of relationships.

For those of us who knew Paul, how do we honour him? We honour him by following in his footsteps, by honouring his and our Lord Jesus with our own lives as well.

Well done, good and faithful servant!