Gary and Marlene ended mission service in December 2020.
About Gary and Marlene’s ministry
The Van Brocklins serve as regional liaisons for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) support of partner programs, relationships and activities and as implementers of the Presbyterian World Mission strategy. They also guide and support PC(USA) mission personnel in the region in communications, information sharing, mentoring, encouraging, and missiological reflection. In addition, Gary and Marlene facilitate and seek to strengthen healthy, effective and missiologically appropriate relationships among entities of the PC(USA) and those of partner denominations or organizations in the region.
While more than 30 million Christians live in South Asia, their numbers constitute a tiny percentage of the 1.6 billion people who call the region home. The PC(USA)’s dedication to mission in the region dates back more than 170 years. In South Asia our work with partners continues to bear witness to God’s grace and mercies, ever transforming lives and redeeming harsh realities. The focus has been on health- and education-related ministries in the region for over 170 years. A renewed partnership in Sri Lanka came about through the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Joining Hands initiative and the formation of the Praja Abilasha network in Sri Lanka in 2005. Presbyterian World Mission’s work in Sri Lanka is in partnership with the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka.
About Gary and Marlene
Gary and Marlene have deep experience as both practitioners and professors of mission.
They spent nearly 20 years serving in mission in Latin America and both have lengthy histories teaching college students about the church’s mission. When they accepted the call to serve in South Asia, they were teaching at Presbyterian-related Montreat College in North Carolina.
Gary and Marlene realize that they are engaging in a rich mission heritage in South Asia. “We are particularly inspired by the generations of Presbyterian missionaries who established clinics, schools, and churches on the Indian subcontinent—at great cost. They braved great danger, serious illness and religious discrimination with a forgiving faith and triumphant hope,” Gary notes. They got a sense of that mission legacy when they shared the news of their call to South Asia with Dr. Ken Scott, a 97-year-old retired mission co-worker who served as a physician in India. “When he heard our news he broke out in a huge smile,” Marlene says. “His joy in our appointment touched my heart and it thrills me to take the baton that he has passed into our hands.”
Both Gary and Marlene cite influences early in their lives that were formative in their vocational discernment. Marlene had cousins who served in international mission, and at his home church in Hawaii Gary often encountered missionaries who were on their way to Asia. When Gary and Marlene met as young adults, both of them had sensed God calling them to intercultural service. They pursued missiology studies at Fuller Seminary and then began their mission service first in Bolivia and then in Peru. They continue to seek the most faithful and effective ways to spread the gospel across cultures. “I enjoy collecting inspiring stories and amazing anecdotes about how the light of Jesus Christ has brought healing and hope to a rich variety of cultures,” Gary shares.
Gary and Marlene are honored to serve with a team of veteran mission co-workers in South Asia who have vital links to local incarnational ministries. They say it has been inspiring to see how these partner ministries live out the hope and joy of Jesus Christ amidst crippling poverty and religious discrimination. This has deepened the Van Brocklins’ faith and strengthened their resolve to follow in the way of the Cross.
The Van Brocklins seek to find where God is at work in South Asia and join in that work. This goal motivates them as they teach courses at Colombo Theological Seminary and strive to encourage the students there to join in God’s mission.
In addition to master’s degrees from Fuller, Gary earned a doctorate from the school, and Marlene completed doctoral studies in Gospel and Culture at Columbia Seminary. Gary received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, and Marlene holds an undergraduate degree from Whitworth College.
Gary is a Presbyterian teaching elder and a member of Western North Carolina Presbytery. He has been a stated supply minister in the presbytery and also once served as an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu. Marlene, a Presbyterian ruling elder, is a member of New Vision Church in Conover, a new church development of Western North Carolina Presbytery. Besides her classroom experience at Montreat, Marlene has taught at Pacific Rim Christian College and the International College and Graduate School, both in Honolulu.