John grew up in Alliston, just north of Toronto, while his future wife Marian grew up in Whitby, east of Toronto. Their paths crossed when John started work at the nearby Pickering nuclear generating station.They were married in 1986 and spent their first year of marriage serving as a host couple at the Seafarer’s Centre in the Port of Montreal, Que. Seamen from over 60 different nations were welcomed that year, where they were shown hospitality in a foreign land at the Seafarer’s Centre. However, Scripture was only available to distribute in 30 languages.
Unknown to the Vandermeers at the time, and years before they would ever hear of Wycliffe Bible Translators, God was planting seeds in their hearts to see the need for people of every nation to have access to His Word in a language they understand. These seeds would later grow as a burden to help with the Bible translation task in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
John and Marian joined Wycliffe in 1992 as career missionaries, having never gone on any short-term missions. It was 1998 when they headed out for Africa, where they raised their six children. Based first in Nairobi, Kenya, and then in Arua, Uganda, because of insecurity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they were finally able to move to Isiro, DRC, in March 2009.
Marian home-educated their children and assisted personnel. John supported their team in areas of solar electricity, computer and networking, internet and radio communications. John is now transitioning to a media-related support role, such as audio recording and film dubbing.
God has been testing and growing their faith over the years. John and Marian have grown to love DRC and its people, as have some of their children whose own faith developed in Congo. They are determined to return as adults to this country they call home, desiring to walk alongside Congolese in the name of Christ.
It is the Vandermeers’ hope that the investment in making the Bible more understandable for the people of Congo will raise a generation God can use to transform not only individuals and tribes, but the whole nation.