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Ron and Bonnie Gouge

Retired Missionaries to Bolivia
"The local people filled their yard, their lives and their hearts."
June 2019

While living in a small log cabin nestled in the hills of Kentucky in 1981, God began a work in Ron and Bonnie Gouge’s lives. Homesteading in their cabin with no running water or electricity, He made it very clear through Scripture, prophecy, the spoken word through the body of Christ, as well as unusual circumstances that He was calling them into missions. While investigating Asbury University, Ron and Bonnie visited the campus during Missions Emphasis week. There, God clearly led them to World Gospel Mission.

Upon hearing that Ron was a laboratory technician and Bonnie was a nurse, Burnis Bushong immediately focused on needs at Tenwek Hospital. Ron quickly replied that he felt more drawn to Latin America and that his hands-on skills could be put to use somewhere other than a small hospital lab 24/7. Burnis explained that Dr. Nina Kunkle had just arrived in Bolivia to begin her mobile medical work and hoped to expand her team. The Gouges applied to WGM and were given a preliminary appointment to Bolivia until Ron finished his studies at Asbury University.

After graduation in 1984, Ron and Bonnie completed media seminar and prepared to begin Homeland Ministry Assignment. At that time, a close friend called the couple to say her parents wanted to meet all of their support needs! After meeting these amazing champions, Ron and Bonnie headed to language school in McAllen, Texas to prepare for missionary service in Bolivia.

Ron, Bonnie, and their four children arrived in Bolivia in August 1985 and joined Dr. Nina Kunkle in the jungle village of Ascencion. Loving life in the village, the family connected with the local people, living among them and loving them. They worked with the medical ministries and helped with the local youth. Ron served as Vice President of the church district, and Bonnie helped with women’s ministries. Their house was always surrounded by neighborhood children, youth, and village people, playing volleyball, soccer, and tether ball. The local people filled their yard, their lives and their hearts.

In 1990, Ron, Bonnie, and their now five children moved to Santa Cruz, where they lived until 2009 when they left Bolivia. Their ministry varied throughout the years. Ron served as director of the Practical School of Agriculture at BEU and Bonnie taught PE at SCCLC , before God clearly led them to Berea Bible Seminary. Ron was administrator and treasurer, while Bonnie was campus nurse, but their most significant ministry was mentoring married students as they prepared for ministry. Sitting in the front yard, or playing volleyball or basketball, Ron and Bonnie lived among the Bible school students. Their five children were part of life on the seminary campus as well, playing with the children of students and finding lots of opportunities for fun and mischief.

In 1998 Ron was asked to serve as WGM Field Leader of Bolivia. He and Bonnie worked together in this role until 2009 when they moved to Argentina to serve in field leadership. In 2011, they began serving as Regional Directors and worked in this capacity until 2018.

The greatest difficulty that they faced during their years of service with WGM was the loss of Wings of Peace and her precious cargo. The Gouges were close friends with all who lost their lives in that tragedy. It was a challenge for them to grieve their loss while directing the search process, but God was faithful and gave grace, strength and a deep awareness of His presence.

When asked what they loved the most about their missionary experience, Ron and Bonnie both responded that they loved being able to serve their Lord and obey His call on their lives while raising their five children in a different country and culture. Regardless of the ministry, Ron and Bonnie always felt that their family was their primary ministry. They loved the outdoor opportunities that Bolivia offered their family—camping, boating, fishing, hunting, as well as sports together as a family and with their Bolivian community. They have no greater joy than to know that their children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)

Today, they find a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction that people in whom they invested are now leaders in Bolivia, serving Almighty God and giving their lives to others.

Ron and Bonnie officially retired at the end of June, 2019 and are happy to spend time with their family. They currently have 5 children and 20 grandchildren spread across the U.S.A., Argentina, Papua New Guinea, and lately, Ecuador. They are grateful for God’s hand on the lives of their children and look forward to spending time with them. Living on a small farm in Kentucky, Ron and Bonnie hope to share their home with missionaries, family, and others who God brings into their lives.

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