Brent grew up in Oakland, California with two brothers and a sister. His mother was the glue that kept the family together through divorce and death, but it was Brent’s siblings who attended youth group at First Covenant Church of Oakland who introduced Jesus Christ to their home. Throughout Brent’s turbulent teenage years God kept His hand on him, and when a friend invited him to go to Santa Barbara for all the girls, Brent was all in.
Allyson grew up in Arizona, daughter of a farm manager, with one sister. Her parents met Christ when she was just two, so Allyson grew up in the church, primarily First Presbyterian Church of Wickenburg. Her interest in Westmont College was for knowing God. Boys were a close second.
A Journey Together
We met at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, in 1985, fell in love while ministering in Mexico for the college’s annual mission trip to Ensenada (through Westmont’s Potter’s Clay short term mission trip program), graduated in May 1985, and married in January of 1986.
That same year we moved to Coalinga, California, for teaching jobs, in which Allyson served three years and Brent seven years. At that time we attended the First Baptist Church of Coalinga, now known as Chapel Grace, serving in various church ministries throughout our years in Coalinga.
The Early Years
In 1989, Allyson started asking Brent about starting a family. He said what every man says in that special moment: “First we have to go on a summer mission trip.”
What?! Who says that?! But Allyson wanted a baby, so she said, “Let’s go!”
In the summer of 1989 we served at a home for children in Baja California, Rancho Santa Marta. It was a precious time of learning and realizing how much Mexico was in our hearts.
We also came home pregnant.
The pregnancy was horrible with nausea and vomiting throughout. Allyson was forced to take a leave of absence from teaching school that year. Baby Justin, however, was born healthy in April and thrived.
The next couple of years due to God’s prompting, Brent longed to return to the mission field. Allyson was completely closed to the idea.
When Allyson was most determined to remain comfortable for the sake of the baby (and any future children), God spoke through a sermon saying,
“If you are in a ‘safe’ place but outside of My will for your life, you are not in the best place for you.”
At this her paradigm shifted completely. Leaving the sermon she told Brent, “I’m ready to go.”
21 Years at Rancho Agua Viva
We began looking for what God had for us, and eventually God led us to Agua Viva Ministries in Ensenada, of all places, right where we had begun in missions!
The time of preparing for moving to our new life was complicated and blessed by our second pregnancy. Baby Emily thrived and was born in May. In a whirlwind we had a baby, sold our home, packed up everything and moved to Mexico. Justin and Emily were just three years old and four months old respectively when we moved.
For 21 years we served at Rancho Agua Viva (RAV). Some of our contributions there included
- forming a vision and structure for the ministry,
- breaking down barriers between Mexican staff and American staff,
- building up a functioning infrastructure,
- registering with the Mexican government in all areas of the ministry,
- securing the land for future generations, and
- implementing staff norms and policies.
During those years some deep passions developed and became clear for us. Brent has a distinct passion for evangelism throughout ALL of Mexico. Allyson has the desire to see young ministries gain maturity and stability. We have been particularly impacted by the friends we have made all over Mexico, and desire to help them more.
In 2011 Brent asked the board of RAV to look for a new Executive Director so that we could dedicate ourselves to these passions.
God’s Faithfulness in Need
Coincidentally about this time, Brent suffered his first seizure and fell. In April of 2012 the cause of the seizure was diagnosed: a tumor in the right side of the brain, near the top of the skull. It was a Grade II Oligodendroglioma tumor, and deemed inoperable because of its precarious location on the motor strip. Several prominent brain surgeons warned us against operating due to the high risks.
We called upon our many friends and began to pray; Brent radically changed his diet and began some alternative therapies. When the tumor began to grow he tried chemotherapy. By December the tumor had grown to five times the initial size, and Brent’s health was rapidly deteriorating. The tumor was retested and found to have grown to a mixed Grade III Oligodendroglioma with a Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma brain tumor.
At first this news was disappointing (even frightening), but it was also a blessing, because by growing the tumor also moved the motor strip in such a way as to make the inoperable tumor now operable.
On January 23, 2013, Brent underwent brain surgery at UC San Francisco. The provisions God gave us for that operation and to stay in the city were overwhelming and numerous. God was bountiful. We are especially thankful to Dolores Park Church of San Francisco, for the special housing, and Valley Christian Church of Dublin and Hope Center of Pleasant Hill for caring for us in so many tangible ways.
The surgery successfully and surprisingly removed 90% of the tumor! The surgery was followed up with 33 radiations and a year of chemotherapy treatments.
EPIC Ministries in Mexico
In between each of the treatments, we continued to serve at Agua Viva Ministries, helping to carry the ministry through until a new Executive Director could take the helm. That man was found in fall of 2014, at which time we resigned from executive leadership in RAV.
In January 2015 we launched EPIC Ministries in Mexico, a non-profit sub-ministry of Link International Ministries. Through EPIC we expect to be able to pursue our passions. Check out our Ministries pages to see how we plan to pursue them.
We are excited to discover what God has in store in this new phase of ministry.
More About Us…
Find out more about our ministry on these pages:
- Who We Are
- Our Mission and Vision
- Our History (this page)
- Our Values
- Our Oversight: Who Watches Over Us