By Mariellyn Dunlap Grace
E. Barte never expected to marry a missionary, let alone become one. Growing up in the Philippines, E. was, in his own words, a very ‘active’ young adult. “When the pastor came to lead Bible study at my house, I would escape from the house to play basketball with my friends,” E. recalls. But after meeting his future wife, then a student deaconess, his life would quickly change.
B. Barte grew up attending a large, urban United Methodist Church in the Philippines, with active youth and outreach programs. She helped teach children in poor villages and participated in the Caravaners, a youth program that traveled to rural churches to organize young people there. “I enjoyed ministering in the rural churches more, but I also started to realize there were many people who could help (in the Philippines), and I might be more needed in other countries,” B. remarks.
After becoming a deaconess, B. was appointed to serve at a large congregation, where she learned about the Volunteers in Mission program from a team that traveled there. After serving at a smaller congregation, as well as with a kindergarten program, B. & E. began to wonder where God might ultimately be calling them to serve – in the Philippines or abroad.
After marrying, the Bartes’ first two children were born with congenital heart disease, so they had to take special precautions not to expose them to unnecessary risks. E. often stayed home with the children so B. could perform her duties as deaconess and pastor. How could God be calling them to the mission field, B. wondered, if her children weren’t healthy?
After filling out an application for the 10-10-10 program, an initiative by the United Methodist Church in the late 1990’s to find more (and more diverse) missionaries along with new places to send them, the Bartes were contacted by Global Ministries and asked to consider becoming missionaries in Cambodia. The Bartes’ only question was, could their children come?
“We’ve been missionaries since 2001, and it’s been both a calling and an answer to prayer,” B. Barte says. “It’s our mission, and God has taken care of our children. Our son needed surgery before we even went to Cambodia, and they (the General Board of Global Ministries) took care of everything.”
The Bartes served in Cambodia from 2001-2010. B. provided Christian education and discipleship training for clergy and lay leaders, while E. taught young people vocational skills such as auto mechanics. Faith Engine Ministry, as the vocational school is called, has helped many young people become employed or continue their training elsewhere. One student even went on to become a pastor! “Every time we run out of money to do the training,” E. says, “the money comes in from churches somewhere.”
In 2009, with local leadership prepared to take over many of the ministries in Cambodia, Global Ministries asked the Bartes to consider moving to Laos, where the United Methodist Church is not officially recognized. They would go as ‘teachers,’ not missionaries, since the church is not legal there. In Laos, B. took over as mission superintendent, a difficult position for a woman to have in a male-oriented culture.
“It’s taken time to build trust. And it’s hard to promote our ministries here since the church is not legal,” B. remarks. “A vocational school will be a priority, and we also need funding for pastors, leadership training, and the people here need ways to support themselves. We need more Partners in ministry that are open to local leadership and sensitive to the needs of the people here. And we need LOTS of prayer!”
B. & E. Barte are among nine missionaries the West Ohio Conference partners with in ministering to Cambodia, Congo, Laos, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam. Consider supporting the Bartes financially, giving to an Advanced Special Project in Laos, or taking a VIM team to Laos! To learn more about how you can support the Bartes in their ministry to Laos, visit (link to Four Corners/Laos).