Who we are

Our lives in God's hands

because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:5-7, NIV)

The Panton’s story begins in 1984, when Monika moved from small country village in Austria to a large city in southern California. She was hired to work as a private chef for a single working mother. There she would meet her employer’s cousin, Robert. One day she noticed Robert’s worn Bible and was drawn to the book. Growing up as a faithful Catholic, she had never even seen a complete Bible until that moment. Monika was curious about the Bible and wondered what made that book so special. For some time she had been quietly pondering about the meaning of life and thought the Bible might have an answer to life’s great mystery. She sensed Robert was quite different from others and asked him one day if he could tell her something about Jesus. He began explaining to her how his life had changed as a result of simply asking Jesus to come into his heart. He told her of God’s desire to love and forgive everyone their sins and give people a new start in life. This was the very thing in which Monika had been searching. Before the night was over, Robert was leading her in a prayer to accept Jesus as her personal savior. It wasn’t long before she and Robert developed a deep love for one another and were married.
 
Every other year the Pantons visited Monika’s family and friends in the small village of Baumgarten, which is located an hour northeast of Vienna, Austria. Robert and Monika openly shared with young people how and why they had become Christians. The “born-again experience” was a new concept to everyone and was met with a sincere curiosity. It was on the first trip that Robert and Monika sensed God’s calling to become missionaries in Austria.

They along with their three children faithfully attended Horizon Christian Fellowship each Sunday and learned all they could through classes taught by various church leaders. Robert and Monika believed that someday it would all be needed for ministry in Austria. One day Monika, who was a stay at home mom, believed the Holy Spirit was leading her to become a teacher, so she enrolled in a local community college by faith. She went on to graduate, but never used her education or training as a teacher. Some fifteen years slipped by of traveling to back and forth between countries and talking about a day when they would move to Austria. Yet, they never saw any real possibility for them to move there. It would only be a dream, a calling they had deep in their hearts.

In the year 2000, Robert was asked to work as an assistant pastor for a church that started from an expansion of Horizon Christian Fellowship. He was able to use the many skills developed over the years and learned many other aspects of Christian ministry. After serving four years as a pastor, circumstances developed in such a unique way, that Robert and Monika were certain God was now sending them to Austria. The big question in the past was always, “How could this happen?” For some reason now, it was different. Robert prayed and expressed that he had no means of accomplishing this impossible task, and God replied, “What is it that you can do?” After thinking for a moment, Robert concluded, “I can buy airline tickets.” That was what he could do, and from that moment on, he would learn to trust God for the things he couldn’t do.

The Pantons sold and gave away everything they had except for what would fit into each of their two suitcases and left San Diego for Austria. They found a small one bedroom flat outside Vienna, which was rented to them on a month-to-month basis, which was unusual in Austria. The owners of the flat, who were not Christians, provided them with dishes, linens, furniture and most of all warm hearts. Two days after arriving, Monika met an Austrian school official and was asked to consider teaching for the Vienna School District. After prayer and with a thankful heart she accepted the job. Through this one key event, all of the legal requirements for them to live legally in Austria were met. They now had an income, health insurance, a residence, and visas. It was as though God had gone before them and prepared everything they needed.

So began the Panton’s great adventure with God in Austria. They hope their lives and stories will inspire everyone to experience the “abundant life” which is only found in Jesus Christ. Feel free to follow their lives as God’s story continues to unfold.

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