Robert Lee Hensley, 84, died Sunday, June 6, 2021 at his home in Amarillo surrounded by his loving family. A Celebration of his Life will be held Friday at 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Amarillo with Dr. Howie Batson, Pastor officiating. Graveside service will be at 2:00 p.m. at Westlawn Memorial Park in Borger with Pastor Charlie Morgan of First Baptist Church of Borger, officiating. There will be a visitation of Family and Friends at the funeral home Borger from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. Services are under the direction of Minton Chatwell Funeral Directors of Borger.
Robert Lee Hensley was born on July 6, 1936 in Crowell, TX to Ralzie Eldon Hensley and Gertrude Helen Ford Hensley. A year later, his family moved to a cotton farm near Sundown, TX. He grew up on that farm, went to school in Sundown, and in that town, he first met Jesus. At age 16, he dedicated his life to serving God. In preparation for that service, he first attended Decatur College then transferred to Wayland Baptist University where he met his first wife, Farolyn Ann Taylor who had also dedicated her life to serving God. After finishing his Masters of Divinity at Golden Gate Seminary, he spent two years planting a church and pastoring it in the California desert. Married and with a one year old baby, he was hired by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and departed for Brazil in 1964.
Pastor Robert went to Brazil to plant churches, and though he was very successful, planting nearly 100 churches throughout the state of Goiás, he also did so much more. He was a man of vision, capable of recognizing the needs of the people around him, and following through with solutions. His dedication to hunger relief became apparent in small projects such as building a water tower for a new community, to large projects like building the first fish hatchery in Goiás to teach people how to raise their own fish. He led in disaster relief during a great flood, and built dormitories so young men from the interior of the state had a place to stay in the city while they went to school. For many years, he managed the Baptist camp which he founded, was the Executive Secretary of the State Baptist Convention, preached in churches without pastors, helped churches going through particularly difficult times, and coordinated evangelism projects. He participated in the planning of the Baptist Seminary in Goiânia where he later taught, and assisted with the building of the Baptist Hospital. In his last decade of service, he co-founded and co-directed with Farolyn a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for women. Pastor Robert did so much for the state of Goiás, that before he retired, the state governor awarded him a key to Goiania, the capitol city of Goiás., This was an honor not ever awarded to a foreigner before him. In 2020, the Brazilian Baptist Convention and the City Council of Goiania further honored him with a Medal of Merit and a Certificate at the Centennial Celebration of Baptist in the state of Goiás.
The First Baptist Church of Borger, TX counted Robert Hensley as their missionary during his time of service, sending a group of its members who worked alongside Brazilians to evangelize neighborhoods, plant and build churches. Since 1976, FBC Borger has been embracing Robert and his family, both during furlough and while on the mission field. He retired in Borger where he ministered to the senior adults of the First Baptist Church, and pastored the Bunavista Baptist Church. Farolyn passed away in Borger, and he married Vlandete do Rosário Silva, who has also dedicated her life to serving God. Together, they ministered to churches without pastors, and churches going through particularly difficult times in the Texas panhandle, for as long as Robert was able to work. Eventually, Robert and Vlandete moved to Amarillo to be closer to family. Pastor Robert preached his last sermon at 82 years of age in Brazil. As long as he could speak, Robert spoke of God’s love.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Farolyn, his brothers R. E. and Hubert Hensley, his sisters Evelyn Allen and Sandra Gregg.
Robert is survived by his wife Vlandete, his daughters Liana Sawyer and her husband Jay of Amarillo, Sharol Shutts and her husband Mike of Uganda, Africa and Melanie Cuellar and husband Jesse of Round Rock, TX, his sister Barbara Haile of Midland, TX, his brother Randy Hensley of Leander, TX, his Grandkids: Joshua and Beverly Shutts, Joel Shutts, Joanna Shutts, Katherine Petty, Jayson Sawyer, Noah Sawyer, Shane Moore and Andreia Lansing and his Great- Grandkids: Gunner Petty, Caroline Petty, and Ryder Petty.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to either of the following two Christian ministries:
1) Waters of Meribah - Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Center for Women founded by Robert & Farolyn Hensley
2) The Robert Lee Hensley Institute of Research over Church Planting and Growth
Checks should be made out to First Baptist Church Amarillo with designation on the Memo Line reading either: Hensley / Meribah or Hensley / Institute.
The service will be livestreamed and put on this website, please just go to the bottom of his obituary to see the service.
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