David Ray DeFord
January 2, 1942 – March 29, 2020
Pastor David Ray DeFord, aged 78, went to meet his Savior on March 29, 2020 following a brief illness. David was born in Spencer, Indiana, on January 2, 1942, and raised in Coatesville, Indiana. He was a 1960 graduate of Stilesville (IN) High School. After marrying his high school sweetheart, he moved to Fountaintown, Indiana, supporting his young family by working at various locations around the Indianapolis area, most notably in manufacturing at Western Electric, highway construction worker, fencing contractor with Sears, mechanic/attendant at F&M Oil Co., and insurance sales with MFA, National Grange and Meridian Mutual Life. He also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Fountaintown Fire Department.
In 1973, David earned his CLU degree in insurance underwriting and moved to Indianapolis, relocating to the Wanamaker area. It was around this same time that he and his family began attending the nearby Burge Terrace Baptist Church, pastored by the late Dr. DeWayne Felber. The influence of Dr. Felber’s in-depth Biblical teaching stirred a passion within David and his wife, feeling the Lord’s call to proclaim the gospel among the Native Americans.
On the third day of 1977, the DeFord family moved to the Navajo reservation in Northeast Arizona to begin the Lord’s work. While living on a trading post property near the town of Lukachukai, David and his wife taught school classes, labored and ministered at the Round Rock Baptist Church and Liberty Christian Indian School, both previously-established mission works, located about twenty miles from their home. During his time spent with the Navajo, the Lord was preparing David to minister among the San Carlos Apache tribe. That summer. he and his family relocated to Globe, Arizona, near the town of San Carlos, to establish a church by organizing Bible studies, a jail ministry, hospital visitation, and services for seniors and disabled.
In 1978, Pastor DeFord founded the Independent Baptist Indian Mission, Inc. (IBIMI), a non-profit corporation providing a channel through which churches and individuals can extend their missionary efforts to the Native tribes of North America by directly supporting missionaries and Native pastors.
In February 1981, the Lord called David and his wife to the Gila River reservation to work among the Pima tribe. The church family at the Baptist Indian Chapel in Bapchule, Arizona, had been praying for God to call a man to pastor them. The congregation welcomed his family to live on the church property, thus beginning their ministry with the Pimas. Pastor DeFord served there for seventeen years.
At that time, the DeFords were blessed to witness the substantial expansion of IBIMI. The Lord provided open doors for new mission works to be established throughout North America. After moving to Chandler, Arizona, in 1996, David’s continued ministry included managing the affairs of IBIMI while he and his wife entertained many church groups, pastors, missionaries, and other visitors interested in the mission and its outreach.
Then, in 2005, David and his wife returned to Globe. While living there, David taught Sunday School classes in San Carlos at Gilson Wash Baptist Church, later serving as interim pastor for a year and a half before a permanent pastor was called.
In 2010, David and his wife moved to Mesa, Arizona, and enjoyed their later years by traveling extensively, speaking at churches and visiting friends and family around the country, attaining their goal of visiting each of the fifty United States.
David is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Rebecca “Becky” (nee McMann), and their three sons, Jeffrey DeFord, of Globe, AZ; Brian DeFord, and his wife, Susan, of Gilbert, AZ; and Steven DeFord and his wife, Sherry, of Kingman, AZ, his half-brother, Drexel DeFord, Jr., of Seattle, WA, nine grandchildren and one great-grandson. He was preceded in death by his parents, Drexel and Marjorie.
Interment will be at the Valley of the Sun Cemetery April 20 in Chandler, AZ in a private family ceremony. A memorial service will be announced later.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the IBIMI, designated Memorial Scholarship Fund 2406 Main St. Keokuk, IA 52632. The fund directly benefits Native American students and missionary children wishing to further their Christian studies.
David Ray DeFord
April 16, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Deford family during this time of loss. May you be surrounded with blessings of comfort and peace. Max and Karen Johnston Family