Where we came from and how we got here
We (Andy and Mara) met as staffers at Bethany Camp. We attended Cedarville College together, earning teaching degrees in Chemistry and Music respectively, and were married in 1990. We returned to Bethany Camp in the summer of 1991 to serve as Program Director and Head Cook. We continued serving in administrative positions at camp each summer until 1999. Also in 1991, Andy accepted the call to be a part-time youth pastor at Panama Baptist Church and a full-time teacher at Bethel Baptist Christian Academy. Andy taught math, science, and history in addition to serving as guidance counselor. Mara taught music, band, choir and junior high classes at BBCA for 12 years, taking some time off when her children were young. In a crisis during 2002, Andy took over leadership responsibilities for the school for the remainder of the year. When PBC called Andy to full-time ministry in 2003, he left BBCA.
Andy has served under three senior pastors in his time at PBC. He was used to lead the church through a crisis resulting from the moral failure of one of those pastors in 1997. Most recently, Andy served as Interim Lead Pastor while our church searched for a new lead pastor and passed the baton to Pastor Rodney Sprowls in the Fall of 2010.
We read an article about the Portugal team and the 4×4 Plan in Vision for Youth magazine in fall 2007. God grabbed our attention first through the article and second through unprompted conversations with our kids in which they shared their belief that God wanted us to take a mission trip within a year. As time progressed, one circumstance after another pointed us toward changing our field of ministry. We sought counsel and each advisor confirmed that God indeed was at work and we needed to keep going until He closed the door. In March 2008, we visited the ABWE home office and were encouraged to make a trip to Portugal to see how we would fit with the existing team and vision. While in Portugal, God confirmed to every member of our family that He had spoken clearly and was calling us to this field of ministry.
Note – In 2009, our story was published in Message Magazine and read by approximately 100,000 people. Click here to see the article online http://www.abwe.org/news/article/hearing-the-voice-of-god-over-and-over-and-over-and-over/.