(November 5, 2010 - by Harold Goerzen) Multitalented HCJB Global retiree Mary Colville "May" (McAdam) Yeoman died in Haruru Falls, New Zealand, Sunday, Oct. 31, following complications suffered from a fall. She was 89.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 10, 1921, she graduated from Pitman's College in London and had training as a marriage and family counselor. She did secretarial work, teaching and counseling, first in the U.K. and later in New Zealand.
She met her husband, Harry (who died just eight months ago), in England during World War II. He was serving as a pilot with the Royal New Zealand Air Force but was based in the U.K. during most of his five-year military career. They married in London on July 17, 1943.
"May Yeoman was a fascinating lady," said Jim Allen, HCJB Global's vice president of team development. "From her earliest days as a 'war bride,' she sought to stand with her Lord and her husband wherever God led them. She was always willing to take on any task, any move or any new ministry. She was a joy to be around and continually sought to be about her Father's business."
The Yeomans joined HCJB Global in 1969. After a year of Spanish language training in Costa Rica, they arrived in Quito, Ecuador, in April 1970 to work in the English Language Service, producing the daily radio program, "Shalom," and later, "Passport."
"Jovial, engaging and consistently exalting the Lord Jesus Christ with a genuine smile. That's how I remember May Yeoman," said John Adams, formerly an English radio programmer in Quito, now serving in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"She was very personable and related very well on a one-on-one basis, either in person or on the air," Adams continued. "May and Harry welcomed us immediately upon our arrival in Ecuador in 1975 and invited me to join them and John Munday for the first weekly program, 'Passport,' that I was ever involved with on Radio Station HCJB."
While in Quito, May also served as a receptionist/clerk for Hospital Vozandes-Quito and conducted marriage and family counseling for people from the international community such as oil company workers, Peace Corps volunteers and missionaries. In addition, she worked alongside Margaret Corin in women's work in Brethren Assemblies.
In an interview several years ago, May said her time in Ecuador provided some of her fondest memories. "I was surrounded by loving fellow missionaries," she wrote. "The English radio programming that we did was based on the depth of experiences that the Lord allowed us to have . I thank the Lord for the rich experiences of being exposed to a wide variety of languages and cultures."
Dorothy Cook, a fellow New Zealander, said it was through the Yeomans that she first heard of HCJB Global and answered God's call to serve as an x-ray technician at Hospital Vozandes-Quito. "May was like a surrogate mother to all the single missionaries from New Zealand who served in Quito during the 1970s," she said. "May always had time to share her encouraging words and wise counsel with us."
While Harry served as the HCJB Global-Canada director from 1975 to 1977, May was instrumental in bringing Craig Cook (then HCJB Global's executive director) and Dorothy together.
"May said that she 'prayed' us together!" Dorothy related. "Craig and I met soon after, and we were married in Quito in 1978 with Harry and May standing in for my parents who couldn't attend. So we have a lot to thank her for! We remember with gratitude May's enthusiasm in everything, her sense of humor, her words of wisdom based on biblical principles and an amazing example of faithful Christian service."
In 1979 the Yeomans were reassigned to Europe, first to Italy where continent-wide media monopolies had been broken, opening the door for local Christian radio stations. They spent four years establishing a radio production studio, offices and workshops, and later a television department. Before "retiring" to New Zealand in 1986, the Yeomans served in France, the HCJB Global-UK office in Bradford, England, and then at the South Pacific island of Saipan, helping in a cooperative ministry with Far East Broadcasting Company.
HCJB Global ambassador Ron Cline, who served as the mission's president for 20 years, said he was impressed by how "passionate, energetic and visionary these people were as we drove through nine countries of Europe in their little car. They were our directors for Europe, and they were putting radio stations in France and Italy and encouraging people [across Europe]. They spoke some of each language, and they spoke of dreams all along the way. I've never worked with a husband-and-wife combination like Harry and May!"
Upon retirement, the Yeomans continued to volunteer at the New Zealand office, especially in the prayer ministry. Their story is detailed in Harry's autobiography, Joy in the Journey, which was published in 2009 just months before his death.
The Yeomans had six children: David (deceased), Keith, Andrew, Janet, Kathy and Margie. Margie and her husband, Ken McLeay, served as HCJB Global missionaries in Shell, Ecuador, for eight years. Ken also officiated at the memorial service in Keri Keri, New Zealand, on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Source: HCJB Global