Mary Earnhart Brewer | Online and Distance Learning Outstanding Student

When Mary Earnhart Brewer began her freshman year at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in the fall of 1985 as an Elementary Education major and Speech minor, she had no idea she wouldn’t graduate until the Spring of 2020.

From her first day on campus, Mary Earnhart determined to make her collegiate dreams come true. She studied hard, played on the volleyball team, placed in the Commencement Poetry Contest, and helped with junior church at Faith Baptist in Oconomowoc. The latter was a joint endeavor with her new boyfriend—Norman Brewer, a Pastoral Studies major from San Francisco.

“Norm was focused on Christ,” Mary said. “I always wanted to date someone who would have devotions with me. On our first date—April 16, 1986—Norm brought a huge Bible and asked me to share my salvation testimony. That really impressed me.”

After two years at MBBC, Mary’s family moved to Jacksonville, Florida and she attended Trinity Baptist College for one semester. She and Norman Brewer were married on December 19, 1987.

The newlyweds settled in San Francisco. Norm was hired by a local engineering firm, and they were active in the ministry of Calvary Baptist Church. A year later Benjamin was born and Mary became a stay-at-home mom. In time, the Brewer clan expanded to include another son, Nathan, and their daughter Bethany. Mary began working in the nursery at their Christian school and eventually became an elementary teacher there.


In February 1997, Mary’s parents shared footage from their mission trip to Albania—the war-torn land of old Macedonia. “Mary and I were shocked at the backwardness of this society,” Norman recounts, “But soon were moved to tears when almost everyone in the congregation came forward in response to the altar call. God used that video to open our eyes and see Albania as a ripe harvest field.”

Mary in Albania during their survey trip in 1998

Mary in Albania during their survey trip in 1998

That summer, missionaries Dave and Faye Young presented their Albanian ministry to the Brewers’ church and also visited in their home. Soon thereafter, Norm surrendered to God’s call to Albania and a survey trip there in March 1998 sealed the deal.

The Brewers first prayer card

The Brewers first prayer card

Following their appointment by Baptist World Mission in October 1998, the Brewers began deputation in June of 1999, and were feet-on-the-ground in Albania on January 13, 2001!  “It was a challenge in the beginning,” Mary said. “The electricity was off eight hours or more every day. The water came on only two times a day and sometimes not even that often.” And of course, they had to learn a new language. Regardless of the challenges, they were in it for the long haul.

In the nineteen years that the Brewers have been in Albania, they have planted two churches. 

Outdoor Easter Service in Tirana, Albania

Outdoor Easter Service in Tirana, Albania

Mary teaches ladies Bible studies and English classes, ministers in music, directs children’s programs, and plans youth activities. She homeschooled their children and taught speech and drama for the missionaries coop.


Considering Mary’s full roster, one might not realize that chronic migraines have plagued her for more than twenty years. Mary has seen doctors in London and at Mayo Clinic and been to Germany and Greece for surgeries. 

Mary, following migraine surgery in 2014

Mary, following migraine surgery in 2014

Sadly, the relief she experienced in each instance has been short-lived. But Mary’s can-do spirit is testimony to the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

One by one, the Brewer children returned to the U.S. for college. “Once the kids were through school and working on their careers,” Mary reminisced, “I did feel the pull of finishing my degree. It was always a dream of mine, just tucked far back!”

The Brewers at Nathan's graduation from MBU in 2015

The Brewers at Nathan’s graduation from MBU in 2015


In the summer of 2017, Mary read an article about Maranatha Online. “I already trusted Maranatha,” she said. “Watching Nathan and Bethany in classes there, I realized the quality was top-notch. The online program fit my life overseas.” So, with the encouragement of Norm and the kids, Mary began her first class in October 2017.

She needed 55 credits, which seemed like a lot, but she just kept taking classes, never allowing herself to take off a session. It wasn’t easy. Her ministry responsibilities continued, migraines vexed her, and she made several trips to the U.S. for medical emergencies. One of the blessings of online education, Mary said, was that “I could take my school on the road with me while I helped my parents and sister.”

On May 7, 2020—30 years after completing her last on-campus course at Maranatha—Mary not only graduated, but was the recipient of the Online and Distance Learning Outstanding Student Award. Mary Earnhart Brewer is an inspiration to us all!