In this edition of The Rope, we want to tell you the story of Norita Gour, one of our retired missionaries. Norita came to FBM in 2020 with the merger between FBM and EMM. She came to us already retired! But, it has still been our joy and privilege to pray, visit, and care for her. Here is her story.
Born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1935, Norita was raised in a non-Christian home. Her mother only went to church on special occasions, and her father never went. Norita would often go with friends and family. She always had a desire to know more about God. Her aunt and uncle were very instrumental in her knowing who Christ was. After Norita graduated in 1953, her aunt and uncle invited her to visit them in California, where they had moved just a few years prior. While there, they took Norita to church. For the first time, she was given an invitation to accept Jesus as her Savior. Shortly after, she fell on her knees in her living room and trusted in Christ alone for salvation. After a few trying years, Norita found a church home where she could serve.
Phil was born in May 1934 in upper Michigan. One of seven boys, Phil had a rough childhood. He worked as a lumberjack until moving around with his extended family. He finally settled in Milwaukee. At age 27, Phil came to know the Lord. The Lord put the desire for ministry in Phil’s heart. For six years, he worked in construction, and three nights a week he went to Moody Bible Institute to study inthe field of Audio/Visual. He started to be more involved in his local church. He was asked to be the Sunday school superintendent, and the pastor even asked him to preach. Soon after, a sister church 25 miles away asked Phil to be a guest preacher.
In God’s providence, that sister church happened to be the one where Norita was serving. The close relationship between these two churches allowed Phil and Norita to spend time together in ministry. Because of this, they developed a closer relationship which ultimately led to their marriage on Jan. 12, 1974. At the time of their marriage, Norita was working at a bank while Phil continued to do woodworking. However, they felt like God had other plans for their lives.
Soon after they were married, new ministry opportunities started opening up. They were able to make a couple of short-term mission trips. The first was a building project at a Bible camp in West Virginia. Then, Phil’s brother, Ken, a missionary in Brazil, asked Phil to help with projects there. After that, both went to Nigeria and helped with a medical building. Finally, they were led to Alamo, Texas, to help with a Teen Ministry. While there, they were invited to a banquet for EMM’s 35th Anniversary. Walter Gomez presented the need for more laborers. Workers were needed in Mexico to help with a film ministry, carpentry, and managing the finances for the field. Phil and Norita felt God leading them to Mexico.
Being over 40, they thought support raising would be difficult. However, God provided abundantly through support from their close friends and many faithful EMM donors. Language school proved challenging, but with God’s strength, they made it through and deployed to Mexico. While in Mexico, their ministry thrived. Phil helped in building projects and film evangelism. Norita helped with managing the finances for field projects and the Walter Gomez Seminary. They held Bible studies and even showed evangelistic films in their back yard. Looking back, God had prepared them for the ministry He had for them in Mexico.
In the early 2000s, Norita’s health started to decline. As a result, Phil and Norita decided it was time to move back to Texas. While there, Phil continued to take trips to Mexico to help with projects. However, in 2008, Phil was diagnosed with cancer and could no longer make these trips. Phil’s health continued to deteriorate and after struggling with his physical body for several years, Phil passed away in 2017.
After 43 years of marriage, Norita was crushed. She moved back to Iowa to be closer to family. Future ministry seemed like an impossibility. But again, God had other plans. He patiently comforted her and led her to another ministry opportunity. In 2021, Norita’s pastor from a former church began a church plant in Adair, where she lives. Norita got excited about this new church and offered to help. They are currently renting the city hall but hope to be in their own building. She is the “most senior” person in this new church and serves as an encourager, prayer warrior and “grandma” to all.
Norita’s story teaches us a few things. God called Phil and Norita into missions later in life. They raised support, learned another language, and deployed to the field after they turned 40 years old. Like so many others have done, they walked through physical challenges which increased their faith and trust in God. Finally, it is such a blessing to see an 86-year old Norita still serving the Lord today.
The call to action for this newsletter is quite simple. Is God calling you to serve Him on the mission field? Is God calling you to leave the comforts of this country for the joy and privilege of serving Him in a different country? In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Is God calling you to be one of His laborers? If so, please contact us today and let’s start the journey.