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Stan and Carolyn Lewis

Retired Support Staff
"We Wouldn't Trade it for Anything"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, August 2014

Whether distributing Christian literature in Burundi, teaching missionary kids, or shipping medical supplies to Tenwek Hospital, retirees Stan and Carolyn Lewis strived to serve those the Lord called them to.

Born on July 19, 1939 in Mullinville, Kansas, Stan was raised on a large farm with his two brothers. Along with embodying a strong work ethic, Stan’s parents made sure the family was grounded in faith; church services, Sunday School, church camps, and youth group were major influences in Stan’s life. However, it wasn’t until 1960 while attending Asbury University (after being rejected for military service; a huge disappointment) that he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and was convinced God was calling him to be a missionary. He went on to attend Asbury Seminary (Kentucky).

Carolyn was born in Trask, Indiana, which is now little more than an old schoolhouse and a historical marker citing early settlers. She was raised by her grandparents and was saved at the age of 11 when a friend invited her to a revival service. She attended Taylor University (Indiana) for two years, and when the college ended the Home Economics program, she completed her studies at Ball State University (Indiana). After teaching for a year at Cedar Springs, Michigan, she moved to Wilmore, Kentucky, to study at Asbury Seminary, where she met Stan.

Before they were married in 1964, Carolyn went to Honduras as a Summer Career Corp volunteer (now the Volunteers In Action program) through WGM. Stan pastored a mission church for a couple of months close to Asbury Seminary. Later that summer, they moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where Stan pastored the Hadley Memorial United Methodist Church until June 1966. That fall, they transitioned to Marion, Indiana, and Stan worked at the Wesleyan Publishing House to gain experience in the nuts and bolts of preparing Christian literature.

In June 1967, they applied to WGM as career missionaries to work in Burundi in Christian Literature ministries. After a year of language school in Brussels, Belgium (Burundi was then a Belgian territory), they arrived in Burundi. The night before they left for Belgium, Stan and Carolyn found out they were expecting their first child. Stephen was born in Belgium, and they later welcomed their daughter, Christina, to the family.

According to Stan, Burundi was a difficult country in which to share the gospel at the time. Political instability and tribal conflicts made ministry a challenge. Although French was the official language, the local language was Kirundi and was very hard for them to learn.

“But in order to learn a culture, you have to learn the language,” said Stan.

During their 13 years in Burundi, Stan worked at Grace Memorial Press, a print shop, and was heavily involved in Burundi Literature Center, which distributed Christian literature in multiple languages. Carolyn took care of their young family, taught at a school for missionary children, taught at Mweya Bible School, and hosted visitors in their home.

“I’ve always been an adventurous person,” said Carolyn of her years in Burundi. “I like people, I like teaching, and I like to travel.”

In 1981, Burundi’s continued instability forced the Lewis family to return to the US. They moved back to Marion, and Stan began serving on the WGM support staff. He served as a WGM representative and later as the director of the Central Region and then as the director of Church Ministries, which helped missionaries schedule meetings in churches while on homeland ministry assignment. Later, he served as the mission’s purchasing and shipping agent. Even after his official retirement in 2005, he returned to work part time in the shipping center until his second retirement in 2008.

“If there was a need, I did it,” Stan said of his years at WGM.

One of the ministries Stan really loved was the book ministry he did for more than 20 years while in the home office. He was able to get Christian books to many areas of the world.

“It is a great joy helping anyone get good Christian literature,” he said.

Meanwhile, Carolyn earned her master’s degree in education and taught at Lakeview Christian School in Marion. She also worked in the adult education department at Indiana Wesleyan University, retiring in 2010.

“Having spent 37 years in missionary ministries, we wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Stan. “I know from experience that Jesus never calls us to do a job without providing the means to do the job.”

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