Candidate Class: 1984
Country Served In: Brazil
Q: How did God first call you to missions?
Jerry: I felt called to missions through the study of His word, and I felt it confirmed in the fall of 1970 when ABWE Missionary to Peru Jerry Russell gave a challenge for missions in my home church in Northern California.
Lynda: Interestingly, Jerry Russell also spoke at our college that same fall and challenged us to be willing to go wherever God wanted us to serve Him. I accepted that challenge, and later, as God led Jerry and I together, I realized that “wherever” would be on the foreign field.
Q:How did God call you to Brazil?
A: ABWE Missionary Dick Buck visited our college and challenged students to consider missions — specifically missions in Bahia, Brazil. We both put our names on a list of possible summer internship candidates, and while neither of us went to Brazil, Dick continued to pray for us. When he returned on his next furlough, we had gotten married and Dick again challenged us — personally this time — to consider missions in Bahia. Dick continued to pray for us through the next four years as Jerry went through seminary, and God led our hearts to Brazil.
Q: What is your favorite memory from the mission field?
Lynda: It has been a great joy for me to teach women biblical principles and see them make changes in their personal lives, marriages, relationships, and in the way they care for their children. It was especially rewarding to see two marriages restored, in part because of changes in attitude and behavior of the wives.
Jerry: I have been most blessed to see so many of my former students go on to lead churches, teach in schools, and minister as missionaries and pastors around the world.
Q: What story or moment had the biggest impact on your ministry?
A: We were at a crossroads in our ministry in 2002: return to Bahia to help with a new Bible school, or teach at the Maranatha Bible Institute and Seminary in Fortaleza? Our administrator, Dave Southwell, counseled us to “Go where you will have the greatest impact for Brazil.” Fortaleza, with its greater pool of churches won out, and we have been amazed by how God has used us.
In 2005, Lynda organized a translation team to work on ABWE’s new evangelism and discipleship books, and now these materials are having a huge impact throughout Brazil. In 2006, we invited ABWE’s Horizon Schools to help the institute evaluate and update their Bachelor’s degree program, resulting in significant expansion of programs and an increase in student enrollment. In 2010, we recommended our ABWE colleagues, Al and Kim Yoder, to host a biblical counseling conference and that blossomed into an annual conference.
In addition, we had the opportunity to help start Maranatha Multicultural Ministries, a Brazilian-led, Brazilian-supported mission agency that currently has 32 Brazilian missionaries serving in 12 countries on four continents. Talk about worldwide influence! We could not have imagined all that God has brought about through our decision to minister as ABWE’s representatives in Fortaleza.
Q: What advice would you give to those considering missions?
A: Seriously consider your background, education, experiences, gifts, and interests when deciding where you will serve and in what type of ministry. The book “Unpacking Your Sixth Suitcase” by John Bradley was very instrumental in our decision to leave church planting and go into full-time teaching.