Before becoming a pastor, Rob Mehner worked as a process engineer for 3M, designing, implementing, controlling and optimizing production processes. Now, he serves as the Director of Training and Pastoral Care at New Life Advance International in Guatemala, helping people become all God created them to be.
“I’m still a process engineer, but instead of making something like tape or glue, we’re making disciples, people who reflect the image of God to the world.”
Although Rob grew up in a Christian home, he ran from his calling to ministry after high school. But in his late 20s, he started experiencing more than just attending church. He got involved in a small group and developed a real relationship with Jesus. He again heard God’s call to ministry, and after wrestling with it for a year-and-a-half, he said yes.
He attended Asbury Seminary, raising two children and serving as a spiritual formation pastor of his church at the same time. After graduating in 2006, Rob continued to serve as a spiritual formation pastor, serving a total of 17 years at La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and as Executive Pastor at Missionary Church USA in Indianapolis for two years.
While pastoring, Rob and Kristy developed a relationship with the leaders of New Life Children’s Home on the church’s annual mission trips to Guatemala. Two years ago, the home directors recruited the couple for roles that beautifully matched their gift sets and passions.
“We didn’t have to think about, ‘Does this make sense?’” Rob said. “We actually had to pray, ‘God, if there’s a reason we shouldn’t go, you should tell us quickly because we’re going to say yes.’ It felt so right.”
Most of the children at New Life Children’s Home have been removed from their families by the Guatemalan government, having experienced neglect, abuse and hunger. Kristy works with children with learning disabilities and assists administratively. Rob’s role is to train new missionaries that come to the field, helping them navigate the massive transition and be a pastor for the organization.
“Through relationships I help missionaries, Guatemalan staff, and the older of the 54 children at New Life be relationally, spiritually and emotionally healthy,” Rob said.
In addition, Rob and Kristy serve as guardians to Hans, a child they met almost 10 years ago. Hans just graduated from high school in November. In Guatemala, high school is a technical school that provides specialized training in a specific career field. Prior to graduation, Hans was completing his required internship in his field of tourism in a neighboring town. His teacher didn’t have transportation to observe Hans, so Rob offered to take her.
During the drive, the teacher told Rob how she’d watched Hans mature, overcome his shyness to make friends, and develop a relationship with his guardians.
“He no longer calls you Padrino, [which is the word for guardian],” the teacher said. “Now he says, ‘You need to tell my papá.’”
Rob believes that through relationships he can help people become who God designed them to be.
“I’m in my sweet spot,” Rob said. “I can feel God working through me and I can feel my passion rise, and feel the gifts that he’s given me exercised. I love to do that!”
Rob and Kristy live in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, and have two adult children.
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