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Doris Robbins

Working in Central America
"I’m called to be God’s servant"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2012

“Since I have always felt the call of God toward missionary work, everything which I have done has been toward that end,” Doris wrote in her application to missionary service with World Gospel Mission in 1949.

Born in Salem, Oregon, and raised in Pasadena, California, Doris was nurtured in her faith by her parents. She became a believer at the age of 12, and after graduating from high school, she wanted to take the next steps toward reaching her goal of becoming a missionary. However, she had no money for college, so she worked at a war plant during World War II to pay her way through school.

While a student at Pacific Bible College (now Azusa Pacific University), Doris met Frank Robbins, a WWII veteran who was also called to missionary service. They applied to WGM as an engaged couple and were appointed to Bolivia in 1950 after they were married. She taught kindergarten in public schools until Frank graduated, and they arrived in Bolivia soon after.

After language school in Costa Rica, Frank and Doris spent their first year and a half church planting and teaching in remote areas. It was a period of adjustment and learning. They then moved to Santa Cruz to help establish Berea Bible Institute. She taught classes while he oversaw the construction of the school. Their two children, Steven and Glenna, were both born in Bolivia.

On Sundays, they would go with students to different areas to plant churches. Sometimes they met opposition. Once, some local people were so unhappy that Doris and the students had been holding services in their village that they planned to stone the Christians on their next visit. As the service began, a sudden rain came up and flooded the roads. From then on, no one bothered them and they were able to start a church in the area.

Frank and Doris also served for two years in the remote village of Guanay, where she was the nurse for the surrounding area. In 1970, they were sent to Salta, Argentina, as the first WGM missionaries to Argentina. They arrived in Salta with no funds and no idea of how they were going to start a church there.

Their opportunity came when Frank noticed some boys attempting to play baseball. He stopped to show them how to correctly hit and field the ball. The boys were amazed that an American was willing to teach them. Frank and Doris used this opportunity to start a baseball league. She taught a Bible lesson and he taught baseball fundamentals. The young athletes became the foundational members of the first WGM congregation in Argentina.

In 1977, Frank and Doris moved to Mexico, where they served two terms. They led Bible studies, trained pastors, taught night classes, planted churches, and worked in the villages of northern Mexico. They visited isolated ranches to conduct Bible studies, taking with them a portable library of Christian resources. Young people came to their house in Monterrey for meetings, calling Frank and Doris “Grandpa” and “Grandma.”

They retired in 1989 after 38 years as missionaries, but continued to be active in WGM’s work through Men With Vision ministry teams and Peniel Compassionate Ministries. They retired to Vancouver, Washington. Until very recently, Doris continued to meet with a weekly prayer group.

“People feel like they become prepared to do a certain type of job or career, and they think that’s what they’re called to do,” Doris said in a 2010 interview. “It doesn’t work that way. I’m called to be God’s servant. Sometimes I was a teacher, sometimes I was a nurse, sometimes I was a nothing. If we realize now that we are called to be God’s servants, we can just do whatever He calls us to do.”

With her kind, sweet spirit, Doris set a shining example of committed service to Jesus Christ. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV). She truly fixed her eyes on the eternal. Doris passed away on March 25, 2012, and we rejoice that she is in the presence of her Savior today.

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