CANDIDATE CLASS: 1980
COUNTRY SERVED IN: Brazil
Q: How did God first call you to missions?
Al: Both of us were missionary kids, and I grew up knowing God had this for my life. My parents had to leave the field because of my sister's terminal disease, but missions still permeated our family's thought process. Having grown up without America's comfort and prosperity idols, there was little to interfere with this path, and then God supplied me with the best of missionary helpmeets.
Kim: My parents were missionaries with ABWE along the Amazon River of Brazil, so I grew up seeing missions firsthand. Ever since I can remember, I was interested in becoming a missionary, and in the 10th grade at a missions conference, I made the decision to pursue it if God so chose. I began serving in several church ministries and attended Bible college for further training, which is where I met Al. As part of our college’s requirements, we had to do a six-week missionary apprenticeship program, and we chose to go to Bahia, Brazil. God used that time to burden us with the tremendous need of the area, and soon after, we began the process of joining ABWE to return to Bahia.
Q: What is your favorite memory from your time as a missionary?
A: There are so many beautiful memories so it is difficult to pick, but if we had to pick one, it would be when a church we planted sent out its first missionary. She was a young lady whom my wife trained in all aspects of the church and whom I trained at our church’s Bible institute. We got to see her put her faith and training in action as she joined a Brazilian mission, raised support, and then headed to a foreign country to share the gospel.
Q: What story had the biggest impact on your ministry?
Al: When I was flying a plane home for retrofitting, I was 9,000 feet over the mountains of Guyana with solid clouds underneath us when a brand new cylinder split due to a factory defect. The plane plummeted my passengers and me down into the clouds and rain. I was flying at 500 feet per minute through steep mountains with no visibility, and I was sure the time had come to go home to heaven. After 25 minutes of flying blind, we suddenly popped out of the clouds 100 feet above the trees with cliff faces on both wingtips. God allowed us to land safely, and in a period of very few days, we experienced more than 20 miracles as God not only saved our lives but also provided for all of our needs during our time in British Guyana.
Q: What advice would you give new missionaries?
Al: Culture has changed. I have seen few finishers. The new generation is more intelligent, more creative in many ways, but rarely sticks with missions long term. To do a good job of Great Commission church planting and discipleship, you have to finish. Give your life to God — not just fuzzy feelings, not just a few years, not just until it gets hard or boring. Give it all.