Training missionary families for cross-cultural ministry
“For we are labourers together with God…” – I Cor. 3:9
John grew up in St. Louis, MO, and studied Architecture at the University of Kansas. While working for an architect in the Lake of the Ozarks area, he met some NTM missionaries. At the same time, the Lord was challenging him into missions.
Melanie grew up in Ontario, Canada, and during her teen years spent two years in Brazil with her family who were missionaries with NTM. Seeing the needs in Brazil, Melanie was challenged into missions.
John and Melanie met at New Tribes Bible Institute in Jackson, MI, in January ’84. They were in the same class and graduated in December ’85. They went their separate ways for Missions Institute; John to Kentucky, and Melanie to Ontario, Canada. They kept in touch through letters, and in April ’87 met up again in Missouri. Melanie was in her first semester at the Language Institute and John had stepped out of the training for a year. He had returned to the Lake of the Ozarks area to work for the same architect he had worked with before.
John & Melanie got married in December ’87. They returned to Missions Institute in Kentucky in August ’88, went back to Language Institute in January ’89, and went to Brazil in January ’91.
The Kerstetters lived in central Brazil, studying Portuguese until they moved to the Krinkati tribe in June ’92. They went on home assignment June ’95 until October ’96 and then spent the next 10 months or so back in the tribe. Due to health reasons (Melanie was worsening with fibromyalgia), they made a change to support ministry in August ’97 and stayed in the city close to their tribe doing supply-buying and other “odd jobs” supporting 3 different tribal works. Melanie was still experiencing difficulties (mostly due to the climate), and so in June ’98 they moved back to central Brazil, this time to help out at NTM’s school for missionaries’ children.
Just six months after moving to the school, in December ’98, they discovered that Melanie had a meningioma—a type of brain tumor (usually benign, which hers was). The family returned to the States and Melanie had a very successful surgery on January 12th, ’99. They combined their emergency medical leave and their regular home assignment and were able to return to Brazil in July 2000.
The Kerstetters spent the next 11 years at NTM’s school for missionaries’ children, except for a home assignment from June ‘03-July ‘04 and a quick trip to the States June–July ’08. During their years at the school they were involved in many different areas of ministry. John’s main responsibilities were administration (including being school principal some years), teaching in the high school, and fixing and maintaining computers and the network system for the whole center. Melanie’s main responsibilities included teaching and being school secretary (some years). They were also involved in many other areas like being class or Student Council sponsors and organizing and leading staff events. They also boarded some high school girls in their home for a few years. In May ’11 the school closed due to a decline in enrollment after over 50 years of service.
In June ‘11 the Kerstetters returned to the States and settled in Missouri. They took their home assignment for a year and transitioned into a stateside ministry. They began their new ministry in August ‘12 with the Education Resource Center at the New Tribes Missionary Training Center near Camdenton, MO, where they assist missionaries world-wide with MK educational issues and help train and equip missionary families for cross-cultural life and ministry.