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Marion Lewton

Retired Missionary to Kenya
"God Blessed in Many Ways"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, adapted by Kateland Vernon, Staff Writer, May 2020

“I loved the people, and I loved the work,” said Marion Lewton, retired missionary to Kenya. “What a great life it has been. I’d do it over again in a heartbeat!"

Born in a small town just south of Canada’s border with North Dakota, Marion grew up in a pastor’s home. At the age of 6, she knew God was calling her to be a missionary. She met her husband, Gene, in high school, and they were married two months after graduation. They attended Vennard College (Iowa) to earn degrees in Bible in preparation for their calling. While still in college, they applied to World Gospel Mission, and they arrived in Kenya in 1954 (then Kenya Colony, part of the British Empire). Their daughter, Colleen, was 2 years old and would be joined later by Ken, Diane, and Dwight. 

During their 40 years as missionaries in Kenya, Gene and Marion threw themselves into whatever ministry God had for them with characteristic enthusiasm. Among other things, they taught at Kenya Highlands Bible College (now Kenya Highlands Evangelical University), established a high school for boys, pioneered the outreach to the Maasai people, served at Tenwek Hospital, worked in agroforestry, and pastored churches.

One of the highlights for their entire family was living in Maasailand in the late 1960s. Living conditions were rustic, but it was exciting to be a part of opening up the outreach to this remote people group. Having grown up on a farm, Gene saw that the people’s diseased cattle could be treated with a simple cattle dip system where the cows would walk through a solution. When the people saw the solution made the cows better, they trusted the missionaries and the ministry grew. A dispensary clinic was built and a church was started.  

Gene and Marion also served for six years at WGM headquarters. Gene was director of Men With Vision while Marion was the receptionist. “I loved answering the phones,” said Marion. “They gave me the fun job.”

For their final 10 years as missionaries, they served in Nairobi, where Gene pastored Good Shepherd Church and started another church. Gene was also seconded to Samaritan’s Purse as the coordinator of an agroforestry project. He helped people improve agriculture and irrigation methods and worked in forest restoration. After they retired in 1994, the Lewtons continued to serve in Kenya and took work teams to Honduras, later serving there as guesthouse hosts. 

Through it all, Marion was by Gene’s side, helping with details, talking to everyone she met, and serving as hostess. She enjoyed working in women’s ministry, sharing the love of Jesus with Kenyan ladies. Marion also became a prolific writer for WGM’s magazine, The Call, then known as Call to Prayer. She loved writing stories about how God was working in peoples’ lives. Whether preparing a family meal from her one-room house in Maasailand or dodging Nairobi traffic on the way to church, Marion said, “I just thank the Lord that I’ve been able to adjust wherever I’ve been.”

After returning to the United States, Gene and Marion settled in Avon Park, Florida. Gene passed away in 2010. “He was a wonderful, wonderful man,” said Marion. “I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.” Soon after, she moved back to Marion, Indiana, to be closer to her children. 

“God has blessed in many ways,” Marion said, reflecting on her years in Kenya. “You never know what He has in store for you!” On May 8, 2020, Marion discovered the greatest thing the Lord had in store for her: she went to be with Him in heaven.

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