Robby and Gemelle Carlson
Home Church: Richmond Baptist, BC
Robby was born and raised in a Christian home and at the age of 12 his father challenged him to seek out what he truly believed and to not simply follow his parent's faith. He began attending Richmond Baptist Church (Vancouver, BC) and, at the age of 19, desiring to demonstrate his faith in Christ, he was baptized. Shortly afterwards, Robby headed to Montana where he attended Montana Wilderness School of the Bible. After a year of Bible school he returned home and met Gemelle.
Gemelle grew up in a broken home, spending most of the time with her mother and grandmother, both of Japanese descent. It was through these relationships that she grew up with a taste and preference for things Japanese, and she was raised following most standard Japanese holidays. Although she and her family participated in annual Buddhist ancestral prayers, they never went to religious activities regularly, nor did they truly believe any of it. As a result, she ended up resenting God and all religions from a young age.
During her second summer in high school, Gemelle was invited to a Christian sports camp. During her time there she resisted those around her and felt rejected. It was her dorm counsellor, however, who had made a great effort to help her feel welcomed and loved, that was able to get through to her. Gemelle writes, “I truly broke down and allowed God to love me through this woman, and she introduced God to me so he could change my heart.” Upon returning from camp she dove into the Bible and attended church with a friend. She grew in leaps and bounds and was baptised. The following summer she returned to the same camp as a staff member, furthering her unwavering commitment to God and passion to share the Gospel with others. In the years that followed, she became a youth leader as well as the worship coordinator at her home church, Richmond Baptist.
Robby and Gemelle met at church, were married a year later, and sensed God calling them into service for Him. Early on Gemelle felt God’s call to minister in Japan, but Robby had not yet sensed where the Lord would have him go. It was during a vacation trip to Japan that God planted a seed. Robby writes, “During that trip I felt God calling me, calling us to Japan. I saw the despair, and hopelessness in the eyes of the people going to and from work... As we sat on a train in the middle of Japan I said to Gemelle, 'I think we are the only Christians on the train.' I later had a Japanese missionary tell me it was more like we were the only Christians in the whole Tokyo station. I saw and felt the great need in this yet unreached country and felt God asking me to go.”
After much prayer, they applied and were accepted to serve with Fellowship International. The Carlsons anticipate utilizing ESL (English as a Second Language) to connect, and then develop relationships with Japanese people, having opportunities to discern those who are sensitive to the Gospel leading them through a process of discipleship where they can discover and learn to walk with Jesus.