August 5, 1926 – January 24, 2016
Phyllis Joynt was born in Souris, Manitoba, Canada, in 1926. From her earliest childhood, Phyllis had an interest in missions. During nurse’s training at Kingston General Hospital School of Nursing, Kingston, Ontario, she knew God was calling her to cross-cultural service among the Chinese people.
At the time, Phyllis was engaged to Alton Gould, a man committed to serve as a youth evangelist. Phyllis wrote him a letter to break off their engagement because she did not want to hinder his ministry. But at the same time, Al had written Phyllis a similar letter because he had been accepted as a missionary to China and believed it was not fair to stand in the way of Phyllis’ nursing career. Once Al and Phyllis received each other’s letters, the engagement was back on. Al left for China in 1947 by himself, while Phyllis finished her nursing course.
Just as he was beginning to grasp the Mandarin language, the Chinese civil war broke out, and Al was forced to leave mainland China after just two years. Al returned to Canada where the couple was married on August 20, 1949.
In 1954, Phyllis and Al began their missionary career under the Canadian Holiness Movement Church in Hong Kong. At that time, refugees from Communist China jammed the city streets, erecting ramshackle shanty houses wherever they could. Hunger, disease and despair stalked the city. The Hong Kong government, at first overwhelmed to care for these people, soon developed a plan to provide clothing, shelter and work for the refugees. Missionaries organized soup lines and temporary shelters. During these years, Phyllis was busy raising their four children, assisting in relief distribution, helping in women’s meetings, conducting youth services and teaching in rooftop schools.
In a few years, shacks and shanties were replaced with seven-story resettlement projects. Each building housed 1,500 people. With every available piece of ground covered with buildings, children were left with no playgrounds and no schools. The government allowed churches and charity organizations to operate primary schools on the rooftops – a wonderful avenue for evangelism. Two rooftop schools were opened close to the Free Methodist church. American sponsors through The Christian Children’s Fund helped provide an education, hot lunches, school books, teachers, clothing and emergency aid. This rooftop model led the way for the Free Methodist Church to begin its own sponsorship program, International Child Care Ministries, established in 1966.
When the Holiness Movement Church of Canada merged with the FMC in 1959, Al and Phyllis were brought in as FM missionaries to Hong Kong. In 1968, the Goulds took a leave of absence from Free Methodist World Missions; they were on loan to The Christian Children’s Fund in Hong Kong and later the Philippines. Phyllis found a new avenue of ministry in teaching children with learning disabilities. She found fulfilment in this ministry and rejoiced when she later received correspondence from these individuals who were thankful for her patience and teaching. For a time, Phyllis worked as the school nurse for Faith Academy, the school for missionary children in the Philippines. While in the Philippines, the Goulds were appointed associate missionaries with FMWM.
From 1975 to 1979 the Goulds relocated to Indiana; Al served FMWM as pastor to missionaries. After 28 years of being out of active hospital nursing, Phyllis took and passed the Indiana State Board Exams for Nurses. The next step for Phyllis and Al included a return to pastoral ministry in Canada. The Goulds retired from formal ministry in 1989.
Phyllis’ Colleagues Write
Former missionary to Asia Loren Van Tassel recalls, “My wife, Sylvia, and I arrived in Hong Kong in 1970 as new missionaries in an unfamiliar environment. Al and Phyllis Gould soon reached out to us, even though they were no longer working directly with the Free Methodist Mission in Hong Kong. They wanted us to know that we were cherished. As a young person Sylvia had known the Goulds when they were on deputation in Canada. So she was delighted to renew connection with people whom she had admired for a long time.
“Phyllis invited us to their home for meals where warm fellowship sprang to life. Al Gould needed a wife like Phyllis. He was a person with unbounded energy. He talked fast and furiously and had endless ideas about how more could be done. Phyllis was the calming center who helped keep his feet on planet Earth. She exuded a quiet confidence – someone with whom you immediately felt at peace. Someone you instinctively knew would embrace you and encourage you, and listen and smile and never betray you. And Al adored her. He never tired of reminding us and her how important she was to him.”
“The Free Methodist Church in Asia is deeply grateful for the sacrificial missionary service Phyllis offered to Jesus to help build His Kingdom,” says Asia Area Director, Rev. Eric Spangler. “The kind words, servant-hearted ministry, and prayers offered may fade with time from our own memories, but we’re assured that the gifts we give to the Master in faith never escape His attention. Thank you, Phyllis, for joining Jesus in His mission to bring the gospel to Asia.”
Rev. Derek Ho, former superintendent of Hong Kong Free Methodist Church, writes, “My wife, Heidi, and I first met Mrs. Phyllis Gould in 1962. She was a lovely lady who joyfully supported her husband’s mission ministry in a foreign country over many years. She was always friendly and hospitable as she opened her home to local pastors and laymen. She also gladly sent her young daughters to attend our youth fellowship in the spirit of loving the Chinese. Mrs. Gould was a faithful warrior of God, a dear friend, a gentle wife and mother. We all treasured and valued her noble character. Her devoted commitment to God is sealed in our hearts and has motivated us to follow her footsteps to serve Jesus.”