To God Be the Glory: The Story of David and Gladys Guenther, Assemblies of God Missionaries to Guyana, Belize, and Jamaica, by David J. Guenther. Springfield, MO: The Author, 2007.
David J. Guenther and his wife, Gladys, served on the evangelistic field and pastored Assemblies of God churches in Cataract, Wautoma, Marshfield, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They also followed God’s call and served as missionaries from 1959 to 1995 in Guyana (known as British Guiana until 1966), Jamaica, and Belize.
Guenther, in his new book To God Be the Glory, preserves and shares the stories and lessons from their lives and ministry. This engaging autobiographical account will be welcomed, not only by those who have counted the Guenthers as friends and ministry partners, but also by church leaders and scholars. Guenther’s careful, detailed account of their ministry years documents the people, events, and places significant in the development of the Assemblies of God in three countries along the Caribbean Basin.
David and Gladys Guenther started life on the northern tier of the United States; David in Wausau, Wisconsin, and Gladys in North Dakota. Both were reared in Pentecostal homes. David’s grandfather, Ernest B. Guenther, was baptized in the Holy Spirit in about 1908, shortly after hearing of the great Pentecostal revival in Chicago. He was ordained by the Full Gospel Assembly in Chicago in 1911 and led German-language house meetings in Merrill, Wisconsin. David grew up in Wausau Christian Assembly of God, where his father was a lay pastor. Gladys was the daughter of Clarence J. Larson, a leader in the North Dakota District who pastored Assemblies of God congregations in Cavalier, Minot, Lisbon, Powers Lake, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, as well as in Eureka, California.
David and Gladys both attended North Central Bible Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they met and love blossomed. After determining their vocations were compatible – both felt called to serve as missionaries – they married in 1950, shortly after their college graduation. They entered the evangelistic field and held crusades across Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The Guenthers also pastored in Wisconsin. Their call to missions was finally fulfilled in January 1959 – they had been waiting on paperwork and itinerating for several years – when they arrived in British Guiana.
The Guenthers spent over three decades planting churches, holding crusades, and providing significant leadership on the mission field. David served as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in two countries – Guyana and Belize. The Guenthers also established a number of educational institutions: Guyana Bible Institute in 1960, Faith Bible Institute in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1970, the Bible Institute in Belize in 1974, and five extension schools in Jamaica from 1989 to 1995.
To God Be the Glory provides humorous anecdotes and insights into missionary life. One such delightful anecdote was the following conversation with a Presbyterian missionary in British Guiana. “He asked me about my vocation, and I stated that I was an Assemblies of God missionary, and that we were determined to start a church wherever you would see a Coca-Cola sign. A bit bewildered, he answered, ‘No denomination could do that!’ I wish he could see our churches, outstations, and branch Sunday schools today, in view of almost every Coca-Cola sign!” (p. 46).
The Assemblies of God is known for its significant growth outside the United States, which is attributed in part to its emphasis on planting indigenous churches. What is less well-known, and sometimes lost to history, are the grass-roots histories essential to understanding the successes and struggles of these emerging churches. This volume provides just such an account. To God Be the Glory will be of interest to those who counted the Guenthers as family and friends, and also to those who wish to better understand the development of the Assemblies of God in Guyana, Belize, and Jamaica.
Reviewed by Darrin J. Rodgers
Hardcover, 184 pages, illustrated. $15 plus postage ($3.50 on U.S. orders; $8 to Canada; $15 to other countries). Order from: David Guenther, 3323 West Calhoun St., Springfield, MO 65803. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 417-864-8146