Thursday, June 7, 2012


Throughout her life, JoAnn Barnett was always amazed that God would take a quiet young girl from Grand Rapids and allow her to be the instrument that touched  so many lives. When others praised her accomplishments, she was quick to point out that all the good in her came from God. Even in the most difficult times of her life, she rested in her faith that He was in control. Whether as a missionary worker, a music minister, or as a wife and mother, JoAnn joyfully served others with all her heart.

* Strongly called to mission work, she offered her musical talents to a young couple, Les & Martha Nixon, who were leading a ministry in Australia. In the coming months, JoAnn travelled throughout the land, accompanying them on the piano and organ as they spread the Word of God.

While in Australia, JoAnn met a young man named Graham Barnett while helping out at a beach ministry. The two got along very well, but Graham was still in school and JoAnn was moving around a lot in the course of her work. She played for Billy Graham at his Australian Crusades for a time, but soon returned to the States. Back at home, she helped to organize events for Youth For Christ in Chicago. In the early 1960s, JoAnn had an opportunity to return to Australia once more. While there, she ran into Graham again, and this time the young couple started dating. Romance soon deepened into love, and JoAnn and Graham realized that they never wanted to be separated again. On January 10, 1963, JoAnn and Graham were joined in marriage, beginning a loving and committed relationship that would last for almost fifty years.  After their wedding, JoAnn and Graham visited Michigan briefly before moving to England, where they would live for the next three years.

The next stop for the Barnett family was Australia, where JoAnn and Graham were blessed by the birth of their first child, Mandy. They then moved to Michigan, where they would finally settle down. Dr Graham Barnett completed his education and starting working, while at home the family grew to include Daniel and Hayley. JoAnn was a wonderful mother, and temporarily set aside some of her outside commitments so that she could focus on caring for her young family.

On January 17, 1986, JoAnn was diagnosed with cancer, and her family was shocked to learn that she was only expected to live two more years. Even in this, what must have been one of her darkest hours, JoAnn put all of her trust in the Lord, meekly accepting whatever he chose for her life. Although she had some difficult times, JoAnn was blessed with another twenty-six years of life. JoAnn remained active as a “prayer warrior,” continuing to grow in her faith to the very end.

JoAnn Barnett was a compassionate, generous and selfless woman, who truly spent her life serving others, and thus serving the Lord. Her infectious laugh and beautiful music brought joy into the hearts of the countless people whose lives she touched.

Yes, dear JoAnn is sorely missed by her family and friends, but I have a feeling right now she's occupied in making even sweeter music to her Lord in Heaven!


Anonymous said...

JoAnn was a dear friend to me, and I miss her terribly. I still expect to see her walk down the steps from the platform after the music portion of our worship service to sit with her dear Graham. JoAnn's testimony throughout her many trials was amazing. Thank you for sharing this Godly woman with others.

Crystal Mary said...

What a beautiful story of love and dedication. People like Joann leave footprints on others peoples lives,and will always be remembered fondly by all who knew them.