Bobby & Lisa Gunter
When I trusted Christ as my Savior in September 1981, the Lord started working in my heart to work with the Deaf after I picked up a prayer card and learned the fingerspelling alphabet. Later, desiring to communicate with a neighborhood deaf girl, I took a sign language class at a local college. For eight summers I ministered at the Bill Rice Ranch where the burden to reach the Deaf continued to grow. After surrendering to become a missionary, I attended Bible college and became a sign language interpreter and Deaf worker.
Lisa, my wife, was born deaf and was placed in an oral education program to learn how to speak. Still, it was not easy for her to grow up in the hearing world. She grew up in a Christian family who attended church faithfully. Due to her deafness, she did not understand the Gospel until at the age of 13 she attended a Christian camp that had a sign language interpreter.Through the interpreter’s hands, she realized that Jesus had died for her sins and asked Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Lisa also attended the Bill Rice Ranch and there she discovered her identity as a deaf individual. She surrendered her life to the Lord for full-time Christian service during her freshman year.
Lisa and I met in Bible college and we were married in 1989. Two years later, after a deaf evangelist gave a challenge of reaching the Deaf world in a Sunday school class, we joined Baptist International Missions, Inc., as missionaries to the Deaf in December 1990.
During deputation, we ministered at the BIMI Deaf Camps. In 1994, we assisted with the establishment of the BIMI Deaf Bible College (now Harvest Deaf Bible College) while ministering through Stanley Heights Baptist Church, our sending church, until the Lord called us to the country of Australia in 1998.
On our first term in Australia, we worked alongside a fellow missionary at a church plant in Beenleigh, Queensland. We assisted the church and their camp ministry as we studied the Australian Sign Language (Auslan).
From 2004–2018, we ministered at the Calvary Baptist Church in Melbourne, Victoria, also a missionary church plant. In the 14 years serving in this church, in addition to our duties in the church, we ministered in several external ministries of the church at the Crystal Creek Christian Camp and the Victoria Baptist Bible College where I set up the online learning classes. We also led the church in establishing a Deaf ministry. Lisa also taught Auslan at local universities and schools and had an outreach ministry to the students and staff. We assisted the church in its transition to a new national pastor and saw the church become debt free.
Since 2011, my wife and I have taken seven trips to the Solomon Islands, an island chain just north of Australia. We were involved in Bible distribution projects on the two largest islands, Guadalcanal and Malaita, teaching Bible college level classes to nationals and working among the Deaf as the country does not have a nationalized sign language.
During our furlough in 2019, Lisa began having health issues that delayed our return to the field. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, and in January 2020, she was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently had surgery and radiation. Though our desire is to return to Australia, we are currently unable to return for a full-time church ministry.
As part of ARM, we will continue to be involved in areas that assist in church planting. Specifically, we will be involved in Bible colleges, camps, and Deaf ministries as we have been for over 30 years. This includes evangelizing the lost, educating the nationals, and edifying the body of Christ—both domestic and international and in person and online.
Currently, we will be ministering at Harvest Baptist Church of the Deaf and Harvest Deaf Ministries, the ministry we assisted in starting in 1994. In addition to working in the church and teaching classes, we will also help the ministry develop an online college ministry, develop resource materials, teach the Bible and sign language courses, and conduct workshops and retreats for the Deaf and Deaf workers. We are also praying about starting a new church for the Deaf. Lisa will be developing sign language curriculums for ministries in Australia and other countries (i.e., Solomon Islands Sign Language Project).
Robert and Lisa graduated from Tennessee Temple University with a BA degree in Missions (Robert) and a BS degree in English Education (Lisa). Robert has a Diploma of Interpreting from Royal Melbourne Institute of TAFE (Technical and Further Education) and Lisa has an MA in Education (Auslan) from La Trobe University.