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July 2018
SeanPavonePhoto

Q: How did God first call you to missions?

  • 1982

    Attended candidate class

  • 1984

    Arrived in Lisbon, Portugal

  • 1984

    Began Loures Church in Loures, Portugal

  • 1994

    Led the fieldteam through construction of Lisbon Training Center

  • 1999

    Started Miratejo Church

  • 2007

    Started Samora Church in Somar Correla

  • 2017

    Joined by their son Andrew and his wife Mollie, who serve as tentmakers

  • 2018

    Praying to pass the baton of leadership to the Portuguese in Samora

Jon: I was 13 years old, in our little church in Elk Rapids, MI. A missionary speaker gave an invitation to commit our lives to missions. Having been born in India to missionary parents, I had been exposed to the mission field nearly my whole life. I knew most of my friends hadn’t been outside of Michigan and didn't want to live in another country, but I had, [and] certainly could again.

Marilyn: As a child, I remember my parents hosting missionaries in our home many times, and I had such an admiration for them. That was the beginning of the desire God put in my heart to become a missionary. I fully committed my life to missionary service in college, when God confirmed the call to missions during a summer trip to Brazil.

Q:What moment had the biggest impact on your ministry?

A: In high school, I joined the cross country team to get in shape for basketball season. It was five kilometers, and I almost died every time. Anyone who can run a 42k marathon and enjoy it must have a God-given ability. A number of years ago I began to keep a list of missionaries we’ve known in Portugal who have left the field. It’s up to 203. Yet, here we are. 

But I’ve realized that God can gift who He pleases to run 42k, 10k, 1,000 or 100 meters. And who am I to think that the "marathon runner" of missions is more valuable?

Some people have asked me "what keeps us in Portugal?" I’ve come up with various plausible reasons in the past, but most recently I’ve realized that just as God has put eternity in the hearts of men, He has put Portugal in our hearts. He has given us a genuine love for the country, the people and the ABWE team.

Q: What is the best part of being a missionary?

A: One of the things I love about what we do is that we do it together, as a couple, and we help each other out.

Our verse that we chose as a couple, and the reference engraved inside our wedding bands, is Philippians 3:10-14. We change the singular tense to plural when we read it together: “…(14) But one thing we do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. We press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Q: What advice would you give to those considering missions? 

Marilyn: Portugal is a beautiful place to live. But there are difficulties that come along with it. This past term has been one of the most difficult ones for us. There were times we wanted to quit.

But what has helped us, I’m convinced, is knowing that our supporters are praying for us; and also remembering what God has done in the past, and realizing how wonderful it is that we can trust Him to accomplish His plan, for the present and the future.

Jon: Sometimes when I’m discouraged, I find music is great therapy, so I pick up my old trumpet and I play through my memorized repertoire, and usually come to “Press On”, an old favorite by Dan Burgess: In Jesus' name, we press on / Dear Lord, with the prize / Clear before our eyes / We find the strength to press on!

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