Jerry became a marine at age seventeen, and the people back home in Michigan thought he was a Christian. He had made a profession of faith at age twelve, but his life showed little evidence of salvation. One evening, Jerry and three other marines planned to go to town and get drunk. A corporal, however, needed a truck driver, and Jerry had to stay on duty. On their way home, his buddies hit a bridge abutment, and two were killed. Later, Jerry requested a transfer to Okinawa, a staging area for Vietnam, but that move was canceled because a new plan to marry Barbara developed. A marine friend, who also wanted to go to Okinawa, took Jerry’s place on the plane which crashed, killing all on board. Jerry was actually saved in 1967 after leaving the Marine Corp and while attending a Bible college. Barbara, his wife of 40 years, was raised in the home of a godly Baptist preacher and was saved by the same marvelous grace at age fourteen.
They served the Lord in various ministries, including pastoring for seven years. Nevertheless, they were not content to stay in the U.S. when the need is so great on the foreign field. God led Jerry and Barb, along with their three children, to Baptist Bible Translators Institute for specialized missionary training. They labored for seven years in Papua New Guinea and established three churches, including Mt. Hagen Baptist Church which has also started other works and supports many missionaries.
In 1990, God led the Thomas’ to Costa Rica. Again, their training at BBTI helped them learn another new language and culture. God has used them there to establish churches and train national leaders in a Bible seminary. A recent prayer letter tells of new opportunity.
“Although our friends Victor and Minor are still in a local jail, their “blues” have turned out to be a “blessing.” Their brother, Johnny, invited us into his home to counsel with a family member who has tried committing suicide three times. We had a tremendous chance to share the Scriptures with Marjori and her husband, Kiki. At present, she seems to be doing better, but please continue to pray for her mental/emotional stability and for Kiki’s salvation. This situation ties in with a recent e-mail from Crossroads Baptist Church, Ashland, KY, asking us to consider starting a church in San Antonio de Belen because they had a recently-saved church member moving back to Costa Rica who was willing to open her home as a means of beginning a church there. San Antonio de Belen happens to be the very place where Marjori and Kiki live. Also, another family we had contact with in the same area needs a Baptist church to attend.”
Jerry, like much of the missionary force today, is over 60 years old. He and Barb don’t use their age as an excuse to come home but are instead beginning another church. Neither have they allowed serious health problems to stop them. As grandparents, they no doubt would cherish the luxury of being near their grandchildren; but neither does that desire draw them away from their field of service. In this day of short term mission work, and when many missionaries seem to find good reasons to leave their field, we salute the Thomas family, holding them up as examples to the younger generation of missionaries. God give us many more just like them!