Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists traditionally collect the Viola Webb Associational and State Missions Offering in the fall. The offering is named for the late Viola Webb, who directed Kansas-Nebraska Woman’s Mission Union from 1957 to 1982.
The 2021-2022 offering goal is $210,000. Half of the money received will go back to the association where it was given.
Viola Webb was a person who was full of surprises. On the surface, she was a perfect Southern lady. Beneath her sweet smile lay stubbornness, passion and a love for football, horses and rodeo. But most of all, Viola loved Jesus Christ, missions — and Diet Dr Pepper.
Her love for Jesus and passion for missions fueled her as she served Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists for 25 years. After her retirement, she was active in her church, First Southern Baptist Church in Topeka, until her health forced her to step back.
A Texas native, Viola was the oldest of eight children and had many of an oldest child’s responsibilities. She worked with her father in the fields during the week. Then on Saturdays, she did the ironing for her mother, using “sad irons” heated on a woodstove.
As the oldest child, Viola often found herself having to “break the apron strings.” For example, she accepted Christ at age 9 in her family’s outhouse. Why make such an important decision in a place like that? Viola thought her parents would think she was too young to make that decision, so she went to the outhouse for privacy.
As a young girl, Viola felt God calling her to serve as a missionary nurse in Africa.
“As far back as I could remember I could feel the Lord calling me to Africa.”
However, her father said he’d rather take Viola to the cemetery before he took her to college to study to be a nurse. It appears her father was very reluctant to let his oldest child leave home.
Although Viola’s father, Clay Middleton, did not want her to go to Africa, he still had a profound influence on her life. He taught her to respect all people, regardless of their race or economic status.
As a schoolgirl, Viola had a friend who was like a big brother to her. Collins Webb carried her books and defended her from bullies.
Collins later moved away. However, he came back to see Viola, and they went to see her boyfriend, who was ill. But the boyfriend quickly became history, and Viola and “Preacher-Boy” Collins began making plans for their future together.
Once again, Viola found herself struggling to loosen the apron strings from her close-knit family.
Her father said, “I didn’t want her to marry a preacher. They don’t have anything. But if that’s what she wants, that’s it.”
And Viola had vowed to herself that she would never marry a preacher. But “when Collins came along, it was a different story.”
After only a three-week engagement, Collins and the 17-year-old Viola were married on July 27, 1930.
Soon after that, Collins and Viola headed off to Howard Payne College in Brownwood, Texas, so he could study for the ministry. Viola worked to provide financial support and helped Collins, who suffered from an eye problem, with his studies.
Although her calling to serve in Africa never materialized, Viola found other ways to share her passion for missions as a pastor’s wife and through serving Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists.
After traveling thousands of miles and speaking in hundreds of churches in Nebraska and Kansas, Viola retired in 1982. Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists voted to name their annual missions offering in her honor.
Find information on the current KNCSB Viola Webb Offering for Associational and State Missions: http://kncsb.org/ministry/viola-webb-missions-offering/