WW2 & Missionary Service
He was recruited into the Army as “John Maxwell Stout” and, after serving stateside, was sent to the coastal town of Hakata, Japan, where in his office over an old fish market, he developed one of the first vacuum tubes as a means of communicating. When word came that the unit chaplain was wounded in battle, John was asked to fill in. It was a role he was comfortable with given the staunch Baptist upbringing by his mother.
His Army career took an unfortunate turn, however, when he was injured dismantling an enemy weapon. Army medics gave him only ten good years left and offered him a promotion to Colonel if he would stay and serve out his time.
But John refused, saying if he only had ten years left, he would rather spend it in service to God.
With this, he and Helen left to take missionary training at Austin Theological Seminary and “field ministry” indoctrination at Montreat in NC. They were initially assigned by the Presbyterian ministry to serve in China. But just before departure—with their trunks already at sea—they were told they would be required to denounce capitalism and embrace communism. They refused the assignment and were given a missionary assignment in the dense mountainous region of Mato Grasso, Brazil, to assist with a yellow fever outbreak.
Seeing the devastation around them they succeeded in establishing several orphanages, schools, and hospitals across the impoverished region. Although the local indigenous tribes were known to attack and sometimes murder strangers, John rode among them on horseback with ease and never carried a gun. In time, they grew to love the country, its wildlife, and its natives.