Just over one year ago, FBM partnered with EMM, a small mission agency with a long history of working in Mexico. The history of EMM is intertwined with the life of Walter Gomez. He was an extraordinary Christian, who was successful in nearly everything he put his hand to. Instead of using this God given ability for his own gain, he and his wife, Lois, used it to bring the Gospel to many people. Their legacy still impacts lives today and is carried on by our current EMM/FBM missionaries.
Walter Gomez was born March 13, 1916, to missionary parents, Joe and Anna. At 12 years old, he received Christ as his personal Savior. A year later, Walter developed pneumonia and inflammatory rheumatism. He was in and out of the hospital for almost six months. The doctor finally told Walter’s mom that he wouldn’t live past 25 due to his heart condition. The next summer, Walter was thrown from his horse and broke his back. He had to have his bones reset in order to walk normally again. In spite of these mounting obstacles, God had a special plan for Walter’s life.
Walter was a bright and determined young man. He spoke five languages and was very active in school. Due to his horse accident, Walter missed almost two full years of school work. However, by working hard, he not only was able to graduate on time, he was also named valedictorian. In 1933, Walter enrolled in Cameron Jr. College where he met Lois Rawlings. They were married November 14, 1936.
God gave Walter the ability to be a successful businessman. But, he and Lois felt that God had something better for them. In 1940, they packed up and moved to Minnesota to attend Bible college. God continued to open doors for them to minister and their passion for spreading the Gospel grew. After graduating they tried to join a mission agency and serve God in Colombia, South America. However, due to Walter’s heart condition, he failed the medical exam. Undeterred, Walter and Lois pressed on to find the path God had for them. They knew God had a plan and was not finished with them yet.
For some time, Walter’s father had been encouraging him to take the Gospel to his people in Mexico. Looking for guidance from the Lord, Walter drove into the Wichita Mountains and there in the solitude of the hills he earnestly sought the Lord’s guidance. God burdened his hearts to start a new mission to evangelize, train National pastors, and help establish churches in Mexico. In 1954, Evangelical Mission Ministries (EMM) was born. Linden Unruh was one of the first missionaries to join EMM. Over the years, he would prove to be a great spiritual ally.
Initially, Linden worked with Walter at a Bible institute in Texas. However, they began noticing that the Mexican nationals, who attended the school, enjoyed the American lifestyle and looked for ministry opportunities in the United States instead of returning to Mexico. Walter and Linden saw a need for a seminary in Mexico for the purpose of training pastors and leaders in their own culture to reach their own people. Together, they opened the seminary in 1955 in the Oaxaca area.
Linden became the dean of men. The young men under Linden’s charge helped him learn Spanish quickly. He also taught at the seminary. In 1957, Linden was elected to be the vice president of EMM and field director. He enjoyed serving at the school as principal and for 20 years directed the school while continuing to teach. During those years his wife, Melba, taught music theory, piano, accordion and also helped with the school choir. Linden and Melba served God faithfully with EMM and had other ministries including church planting and a Christian book store in addition to their work at the school.
In 1977, the Mission decided to close the seminary due to low enrollment. However, once again, God had other plans. The National brethren realized the importance of having the seminary. They recognized that without the school, none were being trained to pastor their growing number of churches. So, in 1979, the school reopened and was blessed by God.
In 2000, the seminary moved to its present location, the largely populated area of Pachuca, Mexico. Because of God’s abundant provision, a wonderful campus, named the Walter Gomez Evangelical Center, was built which includes housing for staff, boys’ and girls’ dorms, a cafeteria, admin building, and a large auditorium. Over the years, many students have attended the seminary and sat under the teaching of EMM missionaries. Many of these students are in full time ministry today and are serving in Mexico, United States, Nicaragua, Indonesia, and China.
Today, Walter and Lois are enjoying the delights of Heaven. Linden and Melba are there as well. And yet, the ministry in Mexico continues on. Paul Unruh, Linden & Melba’s son, continues teaching at the seminary and serves as the field director for Mexico. Dean Hebron teaches virtually at the seminary from his home in Virginia. David Roberts operates a bookstore ministry and Christian school in Aguascalientes, Mexico. From her home in Texas, Twila Bradford helps with a church plant in Reynosa and assists Paul.
Because of the unique partnership between EMM and FBM, the ministry of EMM continues to touch lives in Mexico. Here at FBM, we rejoice at how God has brought these two ministries together. We praise God for the privilege we have of serving EMM and its missionaries. We have visited Mexico and seen the Seminary. We have met with the national pastors. We have prayed with and for the missionaries. It has been our joy to welcome them into the FBM family and to provide World-Class Missionary Care to them. We pray that God will be honored by this partnership in the years to come.
In 2014, four apartments for married students were built at the Walter Gomez Evangelical Center. Up until that time, there was no housing for married students. In less than two years all the apartments were full and have been ever since. Because of the growing need of housing for married students, construction began in 2019 on another four apartments. This year alone, the seminary has added three married students. The reality is, there are married couples willing to follow God’s calling but currently hindered by something as basic as housing. Our goal is to finish these apartments as soon as possible. The total cost of this project was $140,000. Through many of you, God has provided $91,100. However, we currently lack the remaining $48,900 needed to finish this project. Will you partner with us to finish this project in 2021?