Denny and Dolly Bowerman


Retired Missionaries to the American Indian Field
“We Never Told God No”
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer
September 2015

From directing staff in restaurants to directing children’s ministry. From shoring up a house’s foundation to setting foundations of faith. From building their own home to building churches and homes for others in need. Denny and Dolly Bowerman, who retired in December 2014 after 15 years of missionary service on the American Indian Field, still don’t see their work as finished.

“We still plan to get out there as much as we can,” Denny said.

Denny was raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and he attended church on a regular basis. At the age of 12, he felt that the Lord had something special for him to do, but he didn’t know what that was. He went into the military and drifted away from his faith roots. But right before leaving the army, he rededicated his life to the Lord.

Dolly had also grown up in the church and was raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She committed her life to the Lord at a revival service at the age of 13. In 1971, she and Denny were married, and they settled in Manheim, Pennsylvania, to raise their family. God blessed them with three sons: Eric; Dan; and Matthew, who passed away as an infant. While raising her family, Dolly stayed home and babysat other children. As time went on, she and Denny became more involved in ministering to children.

In 1990, they became involved in leading missions teams. Denny organized the teams, and Dolly planned and cooked the meals for an average of 46 team members. They coordinated teams to Puerto Rico, to Montserrat (West Indies), and around the United States, where they built homes and churches and did other projects. After they went on a work team to Shiprock, New Mexico, God impressed on them that He wanted them to serve there and that was to be their home. They applied to WGM for full-time missionary service and returned to the Southwest.

Their 15 years on the American Indian Field included service at Southwest Indian Ministries Center; the Salt River Pima Reservation; and the Navajo Reservation in Black Mountain, Arizona, and Shiprock, New Mexico, which was where they truly felt at home.

“We did children’s ministry in a lot of different areas and traveled wherever God told us to go,” Denny shared. “We never told Him no. Our ministry was an unconventional ministry, because we were very involved in many different aspects—hospital visits, home visits, kids, and we even put in a kitchen for a lady who didn’t have one.”

They also volunteered at a daycare associated with a United Methodist Church. Their responsibilities included the after-school program and their own classroom, plus maintenance. They eventually “worked themselves out of the job,” as the local workers were able to take over the daycare. Church ministries included the children’s messages at a local church.

“We loved working with the kids,” said Dolly. “It was so special when it clicked that we loved them and that Jesus loved them.”

In 2015, Denny and Dolly celebrated 44 years of marriage. From the very beginning, they had children in their home and in their lives. Now retired, they enjoy being with their grandchildren and are helping to care for their elderly parents. Currently they minister through music at two Alzheimer’s clinics, and, in the fall, Dolly will teach at a local preschool. But those hot, dusty days ministering to Native Americans will always have a special place in their hearts.