OBU presented the Herschel H. Hobbs Award for Distinguished Denominational Service to Dr. Rebekah Naylor Tuesday, June 14, during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock presented the award.
The award is named to honor the noteworthy Southern Baptist denominational service of Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs, a prolific author, preacher and radio program host. Hobbs was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City from 1949-72. He died in 1995. He is also the namesake of OBU’s Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry.
Previous winners of the Hobbs Award include Dr. Tom Elliff, former president of the IMB; Robert Kellogg, president and CEO of the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma; Dr. David S. Dockery, former president of Union University and current president of Trinity International University; and Dr. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Naylor earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Baylor University in 1964 and a Doctor of Medicine from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1968. She also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She became the first female resident in general surgery at Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, completing her surgical training in 1973.
The International Mission Board (then the Foreign Mission Board) appointed Naylor as a missionary to India in April 1973. Arriving at the new Bangalore Baptist Hospital in early 1974, she launched a career that included busy clinical practice, administrative responsibility and teaching. She led major expansion of the facilities and services for the hospital. During the 1990s, she organized training programs in allied health disciplines, set up accredited residency training programs for doctors, initiated a training program for chaplains, and established the Rebekah Ann Naylor School of Nursing in 1996.
During her years in India, Naylor was involved in church planting and development in the state of Karnataka, working alongside Indian pastors and church planters. She served as strategy coordinator for the state from 1999 until 2009, when she retired from active IMB service. Through this medical ministry, approximately 900 churches have been started.
She became connected with OBU by serving as a founding member of the advisory group for OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach. She also served as a guest speaker during chapel services on campus and was involved with launching the partnership between OBU and India's Kai people group.
“Dr. Rebekah Naylor exhibits the highest ideals in Christian ministry,” Whitlock said. “She is a compassionate physician and leader who has used her gifts in medicine to minister to others at their point of need, reach the lost, and help plant hundreds of churches in India. Her service to the Lord through the IMB is an example of dedication and sacrifice in following God's plan, even to the ends of the earth. She has been a friend of our University for many years and is an important advisor for the work of OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach. We are truly honored to present Dr. Naylor with this award as she continues Dr. Hobbs' legacy of denominational service and leadership."
Naylor was humbled by the recognition. “I am humbled and honored to receive the Hobbs award, named for a great Southern Baptist leader who so clearly stated what Baptists believe,” she said. “It has been a privilege to serve our Lord and Southern Baptists. OBU inspires and encourages me as I see faculty and students who are passionate about Jesus and sharing Him with others in every corner of the world. Future Christian leaders are experiencing missions now [through the work at OBU] and are being well equipped for service.”