Friends of Christians in Action,
It is with sadness that we inform you of the passing of one of our senior missionaries, Bobby Joe Spencer. He and Lottie met in Okinawa, Japan, when Bob was stationed there in the marines. Lottie was the daughter of CinA Okinawa Director Bill and Adeline Quisenberry, who were already legendary missionaries within CinA. Bob Spencer had been recently saved through the ministry of a Christian Serviceman in California and was on fire for Jesus. He took part in every aspect of the CinA church ministry on the island, including the bar-street coffee shop, street meetings, and personal evangelism.
After Bob was transferred from Okinawa, he and Lottie stayed in touch and, as we might say today, became an “item.” After a short while, he left the military, they were married, and in January 1974, they entered as a couple into the Christians in Action one-year missionary training program. After graduation and deputation, they opted for missionary service in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Bill Quisenberry, with his family, had opened both fields in Japan and Brazil, so it seemed natural for them to follow one of those options.
They entered the ministry with much gusto and energy. Bob’s desire to share the Gospel, along with his excellent preaching and leadership, made him the obvious choice to become the Brazil Field Director. He served in that position for 20 years, building the mission, raising up national leaders, sending Brazilian missionaries to Africa, and planting several churches. In the mid-nineteen nineties, the CinA President, Elgin Taylor, asked Bob to return to the international headquarters, now relocated from Long Beach to Woodlake, CA, to assume a more international role within the mission. During the next seven years, he served as both vice president and then international director.
Bob’s leadership was obvious, and even though he saw its importance, it was tedious for him compared to field ministry where, so to speak, the Gospel rubber met the road. This time his goal was to plant sixty new churches in Colombia, which became labeled within CinA as Vision Sixty. He and Lottie made the transition and moved to join the CinA team in Cartagena, where he gave up using Portuguese for the Spanish language, in which he very shortly became fluent. He made contacts all over the country of Colombia and began to train church planters using the 15-month Alpha and Omega Program. He and Lottie were very fruitful, and over 30 churches were established during the next seven years of his ministry. Vision Sixty has now been adopted by the national leaders in Colombia and continues to drive their mission outreach. They now have 40 new churches planted and are actively pursuing the remaining 20.
After these incredible years of ministry in Colombia, the Lord called Bob back to the US to recuperate and regain his Christian focus after so many rigorous years on the field. Old habits learned during his teenage years had returned to plague him. God was gracious as Bob placed himself into the Lord’s hands for counseling and rehabilitation. Lottie prayerfully and steadfastly continued to help Bob through treatment, and he was slowly restored to his family and his mission. Reinstated as a retired CinA missionary, Bob became ill and was found to have serious cancer of the liver. This disease eventually took his physical life.
To hear Bob Spencer preach in Spanish, or English for that matter, or to join him in sharing the Gospel, one or one, was an experience that could last a lifetime. I have often thought that Bob was the most active and amazing missionary that I have ever known, though I realize that he had simply learned to submit to his God and bless others through his testimony and his exuberance. I know that there are many people in heaven and in the church today because of Bob’s faithful commitment to his Lord Jesus Christ and because of his dedication to the missionary work into which he was called.
With fondness and sadness, I relish and rejoice in the delightful memories of my extraordinary friend, Bob Spencer.
Retired CinA Missionary