When Susie was young, she dropped out of high school, married and began a family. In 1965, now as a mother of three, she was walking through a department store when the Lord impressed her with these words: ‘You will wear those one day’. She stopped and looked around to see what she would wear, and to the left was a shoe display and on the very top of the display was a pair of white nursing shoes. In that moment of time, she knew she would become a missionary nurse, and would be serving on a foreign field one day. From that day on, she began a quest for a nursing career.
She went back to high school, graduated and pursued a nursing degree. It took her 10 long, hard years to finish her education as a Registered Nurse, but a much longer time to fulfill the full impression she had been given. Thankfully, delay does not mean denial.
In 1994, Mike and Susie were attending Free Chapel when a restlessness to do more for God came upon them and they had a renewed desire to follow the 30-year-old call of Susie’s to be a missionary nurse serving on a foreign field. While in Costa Rica with two of their grandchildren overseeing a mission project of putting a new roof on an orphanage, they had a ‘chance’ meeting with the Superintendent of World Missions for their denomination and discussed their project. He told them he had raised money for that project and if they would oversee the job, he would reimburse their receipts, which he did.
A few months later, Bro. Anderson visited Free Chapel and he and the Dempseys went for a bite of supper and they discussed what their next mission project would be. Susie told him of the call on her life and asked him if he could advise her of a medical team in their denomination. He assured her there was none, but looked at her and said, “Sis. Susie, if you would agree to start a medical team for us, I would appoint you Medical Director right now. Let me tell you why. In all the years of serving in this position, nothing like this has ever happened, but recently my office has been inundated with calls and letters asking us to send the churches in Central America medical help. I have literally walked the floor for two weeks not knowing which way to turn to answer their requests. Now, we have this discussion and I believe this is God.”
So they started Sundown Medical Missions and within 3 months had taken their first trip and that same year, 1995, they took 4 more trips, the last one being to Perú in December. At the end of the week-long medical campaign, the Vice-Mayor took them to see a typical pueblo (village) and en route they passed the naval base. They saw 3 boats with red crosses and asked what they were. They were told that they had been donated to the navy to use in medical campaigns on the frontier borders, but had no funding for them. Mike and Susie looked at each other and again, in a moment of time, knew they would go home and sell their retirement properties and get one of those boats and begin their ministry on the rivers of Peru taking health care to the suffering poor.
Three weeks later in January, 1996, they were having morning devotions and the Holy Ghost began to deal with them about helping with the Singles at church. This was confusing because they knew they were headed to the mission field, but yet they recognized the prompting of the Lord, so they phoned the associate pastor and told him what they were experiencing. He said he would get back with them.
His testimony to them a couple of days later was that he passed Pastor Jentezen Franklin in the hallway and Pastor said, Walt, I have been burdened the last couple of days for the Singles. Where are we at with them? He replied, I forget to tell you, but Mike and Susie called and said they had felt led to work with them. Pastor replied, Good, let’s do it.
They said they would volunteer for one year and so they began working with the Singles on Friday nights and for Sunday School. They moved onto their houseboat to be nearer the church and every weekend found a good number of singles at the pier having a great time.
God, indeed, had a plan for them working with the Singles, as evidenced by one of their Singles, Allen Savage, who was legally blind, but knew Spanish, computer and music. He felt led to accompany them to Iquitos until they learned the language. He also played the music for the services they had at the church they started, and out in the river pueblos. He ended up staying with them for three years. His help was invaluable, as the Dempseys couldn’t even order a hamburger off a Spanish menu!
Another single, Joan Eller, still helps the Dempseys with any business/banking matters in the States and is a very good friend. They made many friends, who have since become associated with AMM, either leading teams from the church or being on the teams.
Another man, Roger Reynolds, was faithful to the Singles program and later visited the Amazon many times. He married and he and his wife, Debbie, felt led to start a monthly prayer meeting for AMM and that was 14 years ago and they have never stopped those monthly meetings in all those years. On the first Friday night of each month, they are praying faithfully not only for AMM, but for many, many missionaries and needs around the world!
Exactly one year later, January 11, 1997, the Dempseys moved to Iquitos and was given the use of a one of those very Peruvian naval vessels they had seen the year before. They used it for six months to get the river medical ministry started, but after that they began to look for their own boat. They had exhausted the search in the harbors of Iquitos and had found nothing. They went on a seven day fast and sought the Lord about what to do. On the fifth day, the Lord spoke and said there was a boat and the only one that came to mind was eight or more days away on the border frontier that Mike had heard about.
They had become good friends with the mayor, Jorge Chavez Sabina, who has since served as a Congressman in Lima, and he chartered a naval float plane to take them to see the boat and accompanied them on the journey. As soon as they saw it, they knew that was the one. It needed a lot of work, but they told the owner they would buy it if he reduced the price by $20,000.00 and if they could sell property in the States and raise enough money to buy it. The owner started the boat downriver to Iquitos that day.
The Dempseys returned to the States for their annual furlough and was able to sell enough property to pay for the vessel and to start refurbishing. At each step of the refurbishing, something would sell or a group would come in and the money would be there for the next phase. It was a work of faith, but God is Good!
In the first two years they had seen thousands of conversions to the Lord and were concerned with them having no proper bible training, as many pueblos had no pastor or church. They wanted a place to have their own port for the boat and a place to bring pastors for training seminars and in 1999 they found land in Nina Rumi, where they settled on the Nanay River, and built their campus, consisting of a church, school, clinic, pastor’s dorm, guest cottages, kitchen and dining hall, warehouses and a house for their son, Chris and his family. Chris manages the campus and does most of the buying of supplies, foods, materials, etc.; oversees workers, construction projects, etc. while the Dempseys are on the river with teams. Carla served as Directora of the school for 10 years. Many great seminars were held and you can read about them on the Pastor’s Seminar page under Projects.
They devoted 5 years to working the Nanay River, drilling a minimum of 2 deep, fresh-water wells in each pueblo, built a church if there was none and raised up pastors and leaders for the churches. Now, all of the pueblos on the Nanay River have wells and a church to the glory of God! You can read more about them on the Project Page under Wells and Churches.
Early Days of Faith…..
Susie was raised by her paternal grandparents, Harry and Clara Brown in Glenroy, Ohio. They were godly grandparents who introduced her to Christian living for the first time. Many were the lessons in Christianity she learned by their example.
Several organizations helped to encourage Susie in her faith walk. The first was the Glenroy Church and her kindly Sunday School teacher, Alice Poole, who led her to the Lord at age ten and taught her to be faithful to Him.
Second was the Nazarene Church in Wellston, Ohio. When she was around 9 or 10, a church member came to Glenroy and provided transportation to the church for Vacation Bible School. Some kids, Susie among them, were taken there in the back of his pickup truck, which in itself was memorable. They kids sang, painted crafts, heard the stories of Jesus and she never forgot the theme song for the VBS week, ‘Fairest Lord Jesus’, nor the kindness shown her at that church.
Third was Bro. Bill and Sis. Rose Mazaros, Mamre Assembly of God Church, Ecorse, MI, where Susie first learned about Pentecost. When she went to the Amazonia of Perú as a full-time missionary, Sis. Rose told her she was the 50th person now in full-time ministry that had sat under their teachings at Mamre. What a great influence they were, and what a great testimony of how they mentored their people!
Fourth was the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, Int. and the testimonies of businessmen living by faith and for the influence of Int. Director, Ernie Katai. Ernie and Helen were mentors for Susie as the only people she knew who flowed in the gifts of the Spirit, teaching her the ways of Pentecost. They are still best friends today and much loved.
Susie: ‘Since then many wonderful men and women of God have entered my life, but those in the early days when I stood alone, stand out and are of special note. We are influencing someone around us either for good or for evil every day. May there be someone who will remember me as having a faith that touched their lives, helped them to step up their game and become grounded and settled, as I have remembered those who walked that path before me.’
Mike’s Story to follow…….