Yates, John Spain (1888–1950)

By Sylvestar Shangpliang

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Sylvestar Shangpliang (B.A. in Theology, Spicer Memorial College, India; M.Min., Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies [AIIAS], Philippines) is from Meghalya, India. He has served as a school chaplain and church pastor in the Khasi Jaintia Conference of the Southern Asia Division. Currently, he is a D.Min. student at AIIAS. He is married to Baiada Lyngdoh and has one daughter.

First Published: February 9, 2021

John Spain Yates was a missionary in Java, Indonesia, and administrator in the United States.

Early Life

John Spain Yates was born May 12, 1988, in Cross Plains, Tennessee, United States. His mother was Laura M. Reynolds.1 He spent his early childhood in Ardmore and Enid, Oklahoma, and later in Webb City, Missouri. Being raised in an Adventist family, he was baptized in 1900 by Elder N. L. Tenny at Joplin, Missouri.2

Education and Marriage

Yates received his formal education first from a public school (1896-1900) and later from an Adventist school (1904-1912).3 While he was a student at the Sanitarium at Wichita, 4he met a young English-Irish lady, Ida Myrtle Natkins.5 Ida had been born into the Adventist family of Thomas and Nettie Natkins on May 28, 1886, in Cassoday, Kansas, United States, and was baptized in 1911.6 Yates married Ida on May 4, 1908,7 and to them were born Melissa, Watkins Spain, and John Leonard.8

Ministry

Yates had a rich experience in the ministry. Between 1905 and 1907, he was involved in canvassing in Oklahoma and was successful.9 He served as a nurse at Kansas Sanitarium between 1907 and 1909.10 In 1911 he joined the pastoral ministry and was granted a ministerial license in 1912. He served in the East Kansas Conference in 1912 and 1913.11 He was ordained by Elders E. T. Russell and I. H. Evans on January 24, 1914, at College View, Nebraska.12

In 1914 he was appointed director for Sumatra Mission. At the time he was the only missionary pastor in the mission. Apart from pastoral work, he also worked at the school.13 In 1918, due to his wife’s illness, he left South Sumatra Mission.14 When he returned to the United States he served the church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for six months. His contribution to the church was a tremendous blessing. During his farewell, souls were baptized into the church.15

In 1925 he and his family took a furlough to the United States,16 but while on their furlough they decided to remain permanently in their home country.17 In 1926 Yates was appointed Sabbath School secretary of the North Texas Conference.18 In 1928 Yates retired from conference work in pursuit of God’s calling to start a film library.19

Later Life

After his retirement in 1928, Yates spent several years lecturing on travel. In 1941 Yates moved to Branson, Missouri, where he operated a museum.20 In 1946 he finally he moved to Reeds Spring with his museum to educate and entertain people. At Reeds Spring he led the isolated members in Bible study and Sabbath School, and he continued to be a spiritual leader.21 Yates died on January 7, 1950, at his home in Reeds Spring, Missouri.

Legacy

Yates kept his faith until his death. He had touched many lives while he was a missionary in Java, Indonesia. He was successful in converting Muslims to Christianity.22 In Indonesia his labor was fruitful and many souls were baptized into the Church.23 The work in West Java progressed significantly under his leadership, which was evident in baptisms, sales of literature, and returning of tithe.24 In 1924 the first church school in West Java was established.25 His ministry in his homeland was also fruitful and tremendously felt. The conference officials expressed great loss after his retirement.26

Sources

“75-50-25 Years ago.” ARH, April 1948.

Detamore, F. A. “The work in Malaysia.” South Western Union Record, August 1918.

Evans, I. H. “Back for Malaysia.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1926.

Evans, I. H. “Baptism, Book Sales, Tithes in West Java.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1924.

Evans, I. H. “West Java Mission.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1925.

Huffines, Marthan Helen. “Obituaries.” The Central Union Reaper, February 1950.

Personal Information Form and Biographical Material of John Spain Yates. General Conference Secretariat, record series APPT—XPIF, Record ID 114955, creation date December 31, 1950. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

Porter, R. C. “Malaysia Mission for the year 1914.” Asiatic Divisions Mission New, July 1915.

Reppe, M. S. “Farewell to Pastor Yates.” North Union Reaper, November 1918.

Sorensen, Chris P. “The Early Advent movement.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, 1956.

Woodward, C. N. “North Texas Conference.” Southwestern Union Record, August 1926.

Woodward, C. N. “Elder Yates Retired from the Conference Work.” Southwestern Union Record, November 1928.

Notes

  1. Personal Information Form and Biographical Material of John Spain Yates. General Conference Secretariat, record series APPT—XPIF, Record ID 114955, creation date December 31, 1950, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Marthan Helen Huffines, “Obituaries,” The Central Union Reaper, February 1950, 7.

  5. Personal Information Form and Biographical Material of John Spain Yates.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Huffines, “Obituaries.”

  8. Ibid.

  9. Personal Information Form and Biographical Material of John Spain Yates.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Ibid.

  13. R. C. Porter, “Malaysia Mission for the year 1914,” Asiatic Divisions Mission New, July 1915, 30.

  14. F. A. Detamore, “The work in Malaysia,” South Western Union Record, August 1918, 2.

  15. M. S. Reppe, “Farewell to Pastor Yates,” North Union Reaper, November 1918, 3.

  16. I. H. Evans, “Back for Malaysia,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, September 1926, 11.

  17. Chris, P. Sorensen, “The Early Advent Movement,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, 1956, 8.

  18. C. N. Woodward, “North Texas Conference,” Southwestern Union Record, August 1926, 3.

  19. C. N. Woodward, “Elder Yates Retired from the Conference Work,” Southwestern Union Record, November 1928, 4.

  20. Huffines, “Obituaries.”

  21. Ibid.

  22. Ibid.

  23. “75-50-25 Years ago,” ARH, April 1948, 2.

  24. I. H. Evans, “Baptism, Book Sales, Tithes in West Java,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1924, 16.

  25. I. H. Evans, “West Java Mission,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1925, 12.

  26. Huffines, “Obituaries.”

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Shangpliang, Sylvestar. "Yates, John Spain (1888–1950)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 09, 2021. Accessed May 21, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=CD3J.

Shangpliang, Sylvestar. "Yates, John Spain (1888–1950)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 09, 2021. Date of access May 21, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=CD3J.

Shangpliang, Sylvestar (2021, February 09). Yates, John Spain (1888–1950). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 21, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=CD3J.