Our ministry as missionaries with the Brazil Gospel Fellowship Mission began in 1953 and continued until retirement in 1997 - a total of 44 years. Since retirement we returned to Brazil for short term ministries six times.
Our first term on the field after language study was spent taking the place of fellow missionaries on furlough. We served in 3 different locations. Our experiences were sometimes difficult but enriching.
After our furlough we went to serve in an interior city with a population of about 6,000 people. No gospel service had ever been held in that city. The Roman Catholic Church vehemently opposed. During our first two terms on the field we had a lot of opposition from the Catholic Church. We were threatened, some meetings were stoned and there were false accusations but God's protective hand was upon us. Very few responded to the gospel in those early days. But those who did were usually staunch and sincere in their faith willing to endure hardness and suffering for Jesus' sake. During our third term we served the first two years in a populated rural area near a large lake. It was a very fruitful two years, seeing more than 80 new believers added to the church. The second half of our term we spent serving as house parents for the missionary high school children of our mission and hosts of our missionary guest house. During this term we adopted two Brazilian infants - a boy, Timothy James, and a girl, Rachel Ann, to be our children after we discovered we could not have any biological children. Our fourth and fifth terms were spent establishing two churches in two towns located only about 11 miles apart. The response to the gospel was gratifying. Amy (a registered nurse) did a tremendous amount of medical work. There were no doctors located there. These churches now have their own national pastors and are continuing on. Gerald also taught in the rural Bible institute established by our mission about 20 miles away. During our sixth term we once again served as house parents for MKs and hosts at our mission home. We have developed deep and lasting friendships with these MKs. Amy continued her medical work serving as the mission's nurse and assisting many needy Brazilians. Gerald taught in the TEE program established in the area. During our seventh term we continued to live in the large city of Fortaleza where Gerald served as Dean of Education at the Maranatha Bible College. This was a joint ministry with the Gospel Missionary Union. Gerald also served as missionary pastor of a church in the area. At the close of this term we were able to turn the work over into the hands of a competent Brazilian pastor - a graduate of our Bible College. Amy continued her medical work with ever-increasing demands. Beginning in 1963, following every 4 years of service on the field we spent 2 years in the home office in Springfield, IL where Gerald served as Executive Secretary in a rotation with 2 other missionaries. He served a total of 12 years in 6 rotations in this ministry. During our final term of service in Brazil Gerald served as Vice President of Maranatha Bible College and, along with administration, taught several courses at the Bible College. Amy continued her medical work as mission nurse and ministered to the needs of many Brazilian people. We retired from active service on the field in 1997 after 44 years of service. We have returned to Brazil for short term ministries of from one to five months six different times during our retirement years. We remain available to serve as the need arises and we are able. We have been privileged above measure and our lives enriched. We have seen hundreds come to know the Lord as Savior in Brazil and discipled in their faith. Of these a good number are now leaders in the churches. We praise the Lord for His faithfulness and grace.
* Our beloved friend and missionary, Amy Bergen, went home to be with her Lord on February 16, 2017.
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