FAIRBANKS, Alaska –Members of the University Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, mourned the loss of missionary Janette Yvonne Shackles, who was killed in a June 9 traffic accident in Ghana; Shackles was laid to rest at University Baptist Church, June 19.
The funeral followed the memorial service held on June 11 at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu where Shackles, 47, had staffed since March 2002. During the service, friends and co-workers wore red yarn to represent their grief.
"When Dr. Shackles arrived in Nalerigu in March 2002 it was an answer to years of praying for a new doctor to come and work with us," said George Faile, a career missionary physician at Baptist Medical Centre. "Though she was with us only a short time, she quickly became part of the family here.
"She set a good example for all of us in her work ethic and in her Christian witness. In spite of the hard work and I am sure being tired, she always seemed to be cheerful and positive.
"Dr. Shackles was always friendly and kind to her patients," Faile added. "She was generous and often paid bills for patients who were unable to pay. She took time to witness to patients and to pray for those who especially needed it.
"Dr. Shackles' death will leave a hole that will be hard to fill. We all mourn with her family over the loss of a friend and co-worker. Though it is difficult to understand why she was taken from us after such a short time, we rejoice that she is at rest in peace with her Heavenly Father."
Shackles was killed while she traveled back to Nalerigu; the accident happened on a two-lane road about an hour north of the capital of Ghana, Accra.
"It was with great shock and dismay that we received the news of the sudden and tragic home calling of our dear sister and co-laborer for the Lord, Janette Yvonne Shackles," said Kojo Amo, general secretary of the Ghana Baptist Convention. "We share in the sorrows of and mourn with the bereaved family, the International Mission Board and the entire Baptist fraternity in the United States of America.
"This indeed is a great loss and a big vacuum that will be difficult to fill, yet we take consolation in the fact that our dear sister died in active service for her master Jesus Christ. Our sister has gone home to be with the Lord. We shall see her face to face some day."
Shackles, an Austin Texas native, was learning the African language Mamprulli, native to the Mamprusi people she worked with to assist her role as a physician.
In 1999, Shackles was first introduced to international missions; she worked in the Soviet Far East for two weeks, and then realized her commission as a missionary. Two years later, the International Mission Board appointed Shackles to a physician opening in Nalerigu where she served shinced March 2002. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a staff physician and medical director of Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue, Alaska.
Shackles graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology. She earned her doctor of medicine degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and served as a family practice resident at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore.
The members gathered at BMC spent time praying for Shackles' family and her fellow physicians at the hospital to help them as they mourn their loss. Shackles is survived by her mother and step-father, Vivian and Edward Miller; her father, James Shackles II; three brothers, James Shackles III, Michael Shackles and Edward Miller, Jr., and three sisters, Anita Shackles-Miller, Angela Hester and Pamela Encarnacion.