By Mary Jane Welch
James Madderson Young, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who lived the gospel among Northern African and Middle Eastern people in the Gaza Strip and Yemen, died July 11, 2019. He was 94.
Born November 13, 1924, in Choudrant, where he lived with his grandparents until age 6 when he moved to Ruston with his mother, Ila May Gibson. During World War II, he joined the Navy, where he completed training as a naval aviator. He was assigned to duty on an aircraft carrier just as the war ended.
Young received a bachelor of arts degree with honors from Louisiana Tech University, Ruston.
He married June Buckner of Ruston on August 24, 1946. The couple moved to New Orleans where he received a doctorate degree in medicine from Louisiana State University. They then moved to Panama, where Young completed his surgical internship in preparation for a medical career with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board).
Appointed as missionaries Oct. 10, 1954, the Youngs were assigned to the Gaza Strip in the Middle East, where Young headed up a local hospital for 10 years.
In 1964, after learning that Yemen had very little medical care, the Youngs opened the first Baptist mission work in Yemen. A United Nations report at the time indicated that Yemen had the fewest doctors per capita in the world — one for every 150,000 people. Young operated a clinic in Ta’izz, Yemen’s former capital, until 1968, when he supervised the opening of the Jibla Baptist Hospital in an isolated mountain town of 12,000 people.
In an interview with writer Art Toalston in 1984, Young said, “Yemen is a place with some of the greatest needs in the world, both physical and spiritual. It’s our job as Christians to meet both kinds of needs as best we can.”
The Youngs continued their medical ministry there until retiring in 1987.
The couple then returned to north Louisiana, where he worked in hospitals in Monroe and Ruston until 2000.
In retirement, James M. built and ran a chicken farm on his grandfather’s land near Dubach, which remains operational today.
Young is survived by his wife, June, sons Bruce (Becky) and Mark (Chloe), daughters Kay Lueg (Gene) and Jo Blevins (Carter), 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.