The year was 1956. They had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and now were
on the Congo River. For nearly three weeks, God had led them and brought
them through so much to bring them to this point—but what lay ahead? Doubt
mingled with excitement conflicted in their thoughts. They would have to learn a
different language, build their humble homes, and live on meager means.
Though these thoughts troubled them, they did not move them. Their hearts
were set upon reaching the seemingly forgotten tribes in the African interior with
the Gospel of Christ. However, little did they know what the next four years would have
in store for them. Little did they know that the struggles they would experience would
be the catalyst for starting what is today one of the largest independent Baptist mission
agencies, and that they would be the first missionaries in what is known today as Baptist
International Missions, Inc.
We draw our attention to just one member of this team, a young single lady named
Martha Kunberger, for she would be one of those who would make up that first group
of BIMI missionaries. Now fifty years later, she is the last of that first group.
Of the great missionaries of the past who with great daring accomplished incredible
exploits, this humble lady with her meek and unassuming spirit will be counted among
them. “Why?” you may ask. The answer can be best summed up with a short story of
her missionary life.
Just days before her former pastor and mentor, Dr. Lee Roberson, passed away,
she visited him in the hospital. Dr. Roberson, who at that
time had great difficulty in recognizing people, knew her
immediately. “Martha!” he gasped, “Keep going; keep
going!” And that is just what she has done.
Perseverance has been her nature all her life: to keep
on going no matter what. Through insurmountable
obstacles, it was that determination coupled
with a complete faith in God that has helped her
be the missionary God had her to be.
Born on a citrus farm in Central Florida
during the Great Depression, she suffered the
loss of her father when she was three years old.
Her mother, a devout woman, worked day and
night doing laundry and ironing just to keep
food on the table and to provide her children with