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Judy Gonnerman's Call to Missions

CBC graduate and full-time missionary, Judy Gonnerman, on the mission field in Kyrgyzstan. Here she stands with young ladies modeling dresses donated by ministry partners. (Click to enlarge)Charis Bible College graduate, Judy Gonnerman, has been serving the Lord as a full-time missionary since she finished her studies at CBC-Colorado in 1999. Judy and her husband, Bob Gonnerman, were born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit in the late 1970s. A short time later, the couple heard Andrew speak in Kansas City, Missouri; both appreciated Andrew's down to earth ministry and were excited to learn more about God's love and grace. "Like many people, we had not heard much about God's grace and Andrew's teaching had a defining effect on our lives," said Judy.

Bob Gonnerman and the team he traveled with to Russia in 1997. In this photo they were in Murmansk.
(Click to enlarge)
The Gonnermans both held secular jobs into the 1990s; Bob worked as a stock broker and a postal employee, and Judy worked in the health insurance industry. Judy retired from her job in 1992, choosing instead to be a stay-at-home mom and to homeschool the Gonnerman's twin, seven-year-old sons, Joshua and David. They settled their family on a farm in northwest Missouri where they worked, raised their family, and served a small rural church. All the while they continued to listen to Andrew's teaching.

Judy remembers hearing contemporary Christian music artist, Carman, sing the song, Lazarus, Come Forth in the mid 90s—only she heard the words, "Judy, Come Forth." Map of Russia indicating the location of Murmansk. (Click to enlarge)After listening to that song, the Lord began to speak to Judy that, like Lazarus, God had something more for her life. "Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom, which was a good place to be, but God had a better plan for him. In the same way, what Bob and I were doing was a good, but He had a better plan for our lives," said Judy.

In pursuit of what the future held for them, the Gonnermans turned their attention more fully to the things of God. In 1996, after listening to Andrew for nearly two decades, they worked their way through the CBC Correspondence curriculum for first-year students. In 1997, Bob and Judy, 63, and The Gonnermans (right) in Ufa, Russia. (Click to enlarge)51 respectively, moved their family to Colorado Springs to attend second year classes.

During the Gonnerman's second semester in Colorado, Linus LeFever, the CBC missions director at the time, asked Bob to consider going to Russia to help start at CBC extension school. Bob joined a short-term mission team and went to Russia. While he was away Judy would often say, “Bob is God's sheep and he knows His voice—the voice of a stranger he will not follow.” When Bob returned, and announced that he thought they should go to Russia, Judy had to remind herself that Bob knew His voice. "As a faith person, all I could do was gulp, smile, and say, "Okay," Judy recalled.Flying home. Bob in the airport in Portugal as the family headed back to the US a year and a half after his ALS diagnosis.
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Judy was unable to visit Russia prior to making a final decision about serving there; she simply put her faith in God and trusted her husband's decision. The Gonnermans sold all their belongings and moved their family to Russia to assist in the launch of a new Bible college. Judy fell in love with the Russian people and has always been glad she took those steps pf faith.

Things went well for the family for their first year or so on the mission field; however, in the summer of 2000, Bob was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease) a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Bob's doctors advised the Gonnermans not to stay on the field. Considering that the doctors also said there was nothing they could do for Bob, the couple chose to continue to serve God.

Judy and her two sons, Joshua and David. (Click to enlarge)Determined to continue their work, the Gonnermans headed to Murmansk, Russia, but because of Bob's condition, the pastors they were assisting asked them to leave. Due to their love for the Russian people this was a hard time for the family. The Gonnermans turned their attention to Portugal where they helped another couple start a Bible college. They spent another seventeen months there before Bob became too weak to continue. "All Bob wanted to do was teach the Word. He taught his last lesson on April 15, 2002; we flew to the States on April 28 and he flew home to Jesus on May 10," said Judy.

Judy with Charis Bible Training Center students. Many of these are also university students in St. Petersburg. (Click to enlarge)Fifteen months later, at the age of 57, Judy and her boys headed back to the mission field in Russia where they joined Carrie Pickett at the CBC extension school, Charis Bible Training Center. Judy said, "It was like coming home to be reunited with old friends."

A short time later the boys returned to the States; Joshua to go to college and David to serve in the United States Navy. While Judy did travel to see them off, she returned to Russia knowing her work there wasn't finished.

In 2004, Judy was part of a CBTC mission team that went to Kyrgyzstan, and the Lord began to speak to her about a ministry there. Reluctant to move several thousand miles southeast, Judy at the children's home in Kyrgyzstan. (Click to enlarge)Judy made tentative plans to relocate in 2007. Circumstances and God's timing allowed her to stay in Russia an extra year. During her extended stay, the Russian Visa laws changed, making it necessary to leave Russia three out of every six months. This worked out perfectly for Judy as she was able to work and minister in both places. For Judy it proved to be the best of both worlds.

Today Judy still balances ministry in both locations. In Kyrgyzstan she works in a children's home and has also taken the opportunity to minister in many churches and to church leaders. In Judy teaching at CBTC in St. Petersburg. (Click to enlarge)St. Petersburg, Russia Judy steps in for Mike and Carrie Pickett during their three month visa rotation. While at CBTC she teaches and is involved with the foreign student groups.

Judy said one of her greatest joys is to see the Word of God change people. "There is nothing more wonderful to me, than to go back to some place I have ministered previously and hear their testimonies," said Judy. "The purpose of my ministry has always been to be where God wants me and be available to do what He wants, and that is still true. Teaching, hospitality and giving have always been a part of this, and as long as I receive God's provision in finances and health, I hope to be able to keep ministering to the body of Christ for years to come," Judy said thoughtfully.

Reader Comments (5)

Kevin Bree, I commend the fine work you do to help us become familiar with those serving CBC
and AWMI, at large.The stories are well done and so informative. Each testimony builds my faith.
Keep up the good work. Paulette Murphy and Jillmarie Swanson are from my church. Larry
Romero is our Pastor. We love all of you.

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermaureen klopfenstein

Than you for the kind words Maureen; you have blessed me. —Kevin

March 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterSite Admin


Judy, you are a true inspiration! This is what ministry is all about- being available for God, wherever God needs you to be.

Rhonda Sandifer, CBC-Colorado Springs, '10

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda Sandifer

We commend Judy on her work with the children and by divine connection was able to partner with her and The Kind Family in Kyrgyzstan for many years providing food, clothing, gifts and even rebuilding a home to install 4 bathrooms. hat is tipped to you as my heart is still with you lady of love!!!!

We would like updated photos of the families and the children.


August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPastor Annette Lewis

I've been listening to Andrew Wommack for sometime now I'm just wondering why wasn't Judy's husband prayed for to be healed from ALS? Please pardon my curiosity.

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterI.D.

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