Posted by: calloftheandes | September 30, 2008

HCJB Global Missionary Retiree Duncan Bell Dies Suddenly in Ecuador

Duncan Bell, an HCJB Global missionary engineer for 18 years before retiring in 2006, died of an apparent heart attack at Hospital Vozandes-Quito in Ecuador the morning of Friday, Sept. 26. He was 77.

Born in Hamilton, Scotland, on Aug. 4, 1931, he married Wilma Chapman in Washington state on March 30, 1974. Their children are Duncan, 30, of West Covina, Calif., and Shona, 28, who is married to David Boyes, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“For most of my life I believed that Christianity was old-fashioned and that in this modern era that we had outgrown the need for superstition and religion,” Duncan wrote in his application to HCJB Global. “I believed in a god because I assumed that it all had to have come from somewhere, but the god that I believed in was one of my own imagination and certainly not the God of the Bible. I had no need for the person of Jesus Christ.

“Twelve years later [at the age of 43], I started attending church to please my wife, and after two years I was converted, having seen for the first time my fallen life, my despair and my need for a Savior, Jesus Christ.

“My almost immediate action was to serve directly then in the work of the church. Wisely, the pastor recommended that I wait on God and get involved in Bible studies. I rejoice to see the path the Lord has led us in the past 10 years.”

The Bells’ first exposure to missions and Hispanics took place when they got involved in an outreach with a missionary in Tijuana, Mexico. “The local missionary challenged us by asking what we were doing among the Hispanics in Los Angeles. We enrolled in conversational Spanish and completed the available three semesters.” Then they began attending Spanish-language church called Iglesia Bautista Bethany.

When the Bells joined HCJB Global in 1988, Duncan already had 28 years of experience as an engineer in Scotland and in the U.S. His last job before joining the mission was at Hughes Aircraft where he had worked for eight years.

Upon arriving in Quito, Duncan served on the development team in the engineering department, working alongside engineers such as Charlie Jacobson, now manager of engineering and development at the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart, Ind. “I appreciate people like Duncan who, after serving in a career in industry, came to Ecuador to use their electronic skills in missions to make an impact for Christ,” Jacobson said.

After the Bells retired from HCJB Global in 2006, Duncan went on to serve with ASOMA, a Christian television ministry in Quito started by HCJB Global two decades earlier. He also taught at the Berean-affiliated Buen Pastor school in Pifo. He enjoyed bird watching, and he constructed at least two homes—one in California and one in Ecuador. He held passports from the U.K. and U.S. as well as residency status in Ecuador, and he never entirely lost his Scottish accent. His wit was quick and he enjoyed a laugh with friends.

A service to remember Duncan was held the morning of Sunday, Sept. 28, in Yaruquí, a small town near Radio Station HCJB’s international transmitter site in Pifo. Yaruquí is also where Duncan and Wilma made their home and had many friends and church family.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Wilma at 1732 S. Pass and Covina Rd., West Covina, CA 91792. The gifts will assist an Ecuadorian friend, Mercedes Zurita. Mercedes, 33, who was raised in an orphanage and is wheelchair bound. Living at Yaruquí, she has written a book telling others of her experience with Christ.


  1. Was interested to read this article about Duncan, especially as I too am a Scottish emigrant (to the U.S.A.) and was born just a few miles from Duncan’s home town of Hamilton.

  2. As a new missionary I remember Duncan taking my visiting pastor, Stuart Briscoe and me up into the Tandayapa Valley bird watching. Duncan was instrumental in the salvation of a couple up there. He was a delight, he’ll be missed.

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