Joe and Virginia Sanders


In June of 1946, Joe Sanders and Virginia Robey both graduated from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) with the same desire in their hearts to serve the Lord as missionaries in Venezuela, South America.

During the two years following graduation, Virginia and Joe traveled separately to serve with the Orinoco River Mission in Venezuela. Although they were only acquaintances while at Biola, God brought them together in 1948. They became good friends and by February of 1949 were married and began their lifetime of service for Christ together.

The next 10 years would be spent doing what they loved best: working with the Venezuelan people in evangelism, establishing churches, children's classes, and training leaders for the growing Venezuelan Church in Eastern Venezuela. During that time, their two sons, Joe Jr. and Richard, were born.

Upon returning to Venezuela after being on furlough, their time was spent working in the growing church in Maturin and teaching at the Las Delicias Bible Institute about a three-hour drive into the beautiful mountain area of Caripe. Joe had always had a desire to have a printing ministry, and while at the Bible Institute, that desire was fulfilled and they were able to do printing for the teachers as well as for the Mission.

Out of that humble beginning came "Publicaciones Mensaje de Vida" (Message of Life). The first publication, a Vacation Bible School course for children, was used by the missionaries of Eastern Venezuela. It was soon evident that this publication, which was written in Spanish (not translated) specifically by and for the Latin culture had touched a real need. Orders for the lessons started arriving from other parts of Venezuela as well as other countries of South and Central America.

Because of the high cost of printing and shipping from Venezuela, the Sanders relocated to Joe's home town of Santa Barbara, California. The ministry continued to grow, and they eventually moved to the little town of Ahwahnee near Oakhurst, California.

Literally hundreds of thousands of teachers' manuals and children's workbooks have been shipped all over the Spanish speaking world by the Sanders' printing ministry. The project that moved to Ahwahnee in 1962 is still there 50 years later, and still touching lives in all the Spanish speaking parts of the world.

Besides their printing ministry, Joe and Virginia had several other opportunities for service throughout the years, such as pastoring and ministry among a nearby Spanish-speaking population.

After passing on the leadership of their printing ministry and caring for their aging parents for several years, they settled down in a small apartment in Southern California. They thought active service for the Lord was over, but God still had more work for them. Not long after moving to Laguna Woods and attending Grace Community church, Joe was asked to be a part-time pastor to Seniors. That added 10 more years of ministry and was the "frosting on the cake" of 63 years of service for the King of Kings.

Joe went home to the Lord in August 2012. Virginia is looking forward to the next adventure and while she is still here, to witness for Him as God opens up opportunities.