Each Wednesday morning, Don and Marla Bettinger pack their car with coffee and breakfast snacks to share with a bicycle club that meets near Hualien Harbor, Taiwan. As 28-year career missionaries and church planters with One Mission Society (OMS), they desire to live in a way that permeates communities and families with the love of Christ.
“Our hope is that as we share the love of Jesus through this simple act of kindness, they will catch a glimpse of the Savior’s love for them,” Don said. “We are sensing that they are slowly but surely being more responsive to God’s working in their hearts.”
Don and Marla seek to build bridges into the community, often using English classes and hospitality as a way to befriend, introduce and disciple others in Christ. Throughout their time in Taiwan, they have been involved in a variety of mission endeavors. These include small groups, discipleship training classes, youth and kids camps, women’s Bible studies and preaching.
In 2012, they moved to Hualien, Taiwan, transitioning from serving in established churches to planting churches. Throughout the week, they lead five bilingual Bible studies and disciple new believers. Each Sunday evening, a group gathers in their home for simple church.
“We are involved in a less traditional church-planting ministry that can begin in a home, a coffee shop or wherever people meet,” Don said. “Our goal is to see disciples made who will multiply to the next generation and reproduce fellowships of believers.”
Sometimes, those new believers live just a door away. Shortly after moving to Hualien, they met Rose, their next-door-neighbor. Marla befriended her and over time, led her to faith in Jesus. Through discipleship, prayer and solid spiritual growth, Rose developed a great passion for Jesus. Two years later, her whole family was baptized.
God is using individuals such as Rose’s family to impact the larger community of Hualien, as well. A number have come to know Jesus either for the first time or renewed a stagnant relationship with Him. Now, Taiwanese co-workers, who have a passion to see their countrymen won for the Lord, serve alongside the Bettingers.
“God has put a burden on our heart for the people of Taiwan,” Don said. “He has continually affirmed our call to be here and do His work by supporting us with a strong prayer base and blessing us with saints for co-workers.”
Don and Marla first experienced God’s call to mission work in the early 80s, first as individuals and then as a couple. Both began their walk with Jesus as children, and as adults, God combined a loved for Him and each other with a desire to serve overseas. Throughout their time, they have continued to learn in order to witness within their context.
Prior to moving to Hualien, they had only partnered with established churches, but had never had the opportunity to be involved in a church planting ministry. They desired additional training to plant more effectively. Together, they enrolled in Asbury Seminary’s Master of Arts [Intercultural Studies] with a church planting emphasis.
“Being a mostly online degree has allowed us to remain in active ministry, while at the same time gain additional training needed for our current ministry assignment,” Don said. “This degree is providing additional tools and knowledge to help us move ahead in our ministry journey.”
The Bettingers raised their four boys in Taiwan. Aaron (29) works in Phoenix. Andrew (28) owns a coffee shop in Northern California. Isaac (21) is in Athens, Ohio, attending Ohio University, and Micah (19) is working with Andrew in California.
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