John A. Hatcher
60-year Missiosnary to Brazil
John Albert Hatcher was born in 1925 in Alexandria, Kentucky, to Albert and Beatrix Hatcher. He was the second of four children, reared in a God-fearing home on a diary farm. He trusted the Lord Jesus at age nine after hearing the Gospel story of three crosses, which he later made into a visual pamphlet, translated into three languages, and shared with hundreds of people in his latter years.
Upon finishing high school at Campbell County H. S., amidst Word War II, he signed up as a volunteer for the U. S. Merchant Marines. He served proudly for four years, including action on D + 1 day at Normandy, France. After the war he enrolled in Georgetown Baptist College, Georgetown, Kentucky, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree. He went on to earn a Master's in Theology at Lexington Baptist College and a Doctrate in Theology at Luther Rice Seminary.
In his first year at Georgetown College he met his wonderful wife, Alta McKeehan, and they were married for 69 years. Throughout their college years they worked together in home missions in Kentucky. After graduating, he pastored in Shelbyville and Beattyville, Kentucky, and finally in Alton, Illinois before they followed God's call to be life-long missionaries to Brazil, sponsored by Baptist Faith Missions.
He arrived in Brazil in 1955 with Alta and their children, and dedicated the first 19 years to church planting in the Amazon Valley, working in the city of Manaus and in villages along the Amazon River. During those years John founded Batista das Americas School and the Manaus Baptist Theological Seminary, and was involved in starting seveal churches. His many skills and talents were put to God's use: piloting his boat, building churches and school buildings, making pews and desks, educating and training young pastors, translating theology books, printing Christian literature and song books, evangelizing and teaching by radio, using puppets, ventriloquism and magic to reach people for Christ. John played the saxophone and clarinet and loved Christian music.
In 1976 John and Alta felt led to move to the city of Garça, São Paulo, in southern Brazil. There he started ten churches in ten cities where there were no Baptist churches, along with a bus ministry and Bible Institute through which the chuches were serviced with leadership.
In 1989 John moved 200 miles further south to Urai, Parana, Brazil. In the next years he repeated the church planting and leadership training, resulting in seven thriving churches in that region, each with its building paid for.
John Hatcher was known for his unwavering faith in God, incredible discipline and work ethic. As his late mission director, Hafford Overby put it: John Hatcher works!
All of John and Alta's children are actively involved in church work, serving the Lord as pastors and missionaries.
Only Heaven will tell the extent of John Hatcher's influence in spreading the Gospel to the nation of Brazil. He is loved and will be missed by thousands. He fought the good fight, finished the course, kept the faith.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Alta McKeehan Hatcher, his daughter, Lynn McGary, his unborn son, buried on the banks of the Nhamunda River in the Amazon, and his brother, Charles Hatcher. He is survived by two sisters, Neree Woods and Jessie Sills, his loving children, Ranaah Paul Hatcher (Wanda) of Clermont, Florida, John Mark Hatcher (Judy) of Toulouse, France, David Judson Hatcher (Pennie) of Manaus, Brazil, Kathy Amazonas Barros (Odali) of Iranduba, Brazil, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
John died on May 14, 2022, at his son Paul's home in Clermont, Florida.
[From Baptist Faith Missions newspaper, June 2022, pp. 1 & 5. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Baptist Bios
Baptist History Homepage