Above: Great to see our students graduating at AIU in Nairobi!
News from AIU in Nairobi
I (Steve) am excited for my students who graduated from our Intercultural Studies PhD! Two are now home ministering in Nigeria. Moses (above, on the left) completed the World Christianity track. Michael (on the right) became was my T.A. He graduated from the Islamics track. I continue to supervise Abram (in the middle). He has been teaching in a Bible school Tanzania for many years. Adding a wife and 3 children slowed progress, but he recently sent me a draft of his research findings.
Below: Hannah represented at AIU gradutation, celebrating here with Michael, who became our family’s friend while doing his MDiv in Missions and PhD.
Itinerating: We have visited all of TEAM’s regular church supporters and nearly all of the individuals. In March through May, we traveled from coast to coast. While some have shifted all or part of their giving to other missions, the majority have continued to support TEAM. Many expressed excitement about continuing to participate in all that God is accomplishing through TEAM.
Writing: I completed a draft of the major section on “What the Bible says about witchcraft” as well as some other sections of the “What about witches?” book. I am working with the co-author in Nigeria and editors in UK and Kenya. Writing is hard work! Writing together is even harder, but will make this much better. Jan is nearly done writing up her 4th of 5 dissertation chapters.
News from LVCC in Tanzania
Above: LVCC graduates and spouses celebrate!
LVCC’s 3 residential sites have continued at the doubled rate for the past 3 sessions! (Including spouses, a record 197 studied in the spring.) In fact, they need to split the Mwanza site into 2 sessions.
Below, 23 LVCC students graduated Sept. 3rd in Mwanza (18 men and 5 women). It was a celebration, praising God for his faithfulness, with lots of dancing, worship, and food! See our website for a video: https://youtu.be/SqVsVU-3OH0
Below: Benester is teaching the class in “Christian Family” to students and spouses. (We started giving scholarships for spouses to attend this when Jan taught it years ago.) They taught in the Mwanza PEFA church building, since they could not fit into our one classroom.
550 and more reasons to increase your support for TEAM
For 22 years, God has grown TEAM’s work in wisdom, relationships, reach and impact! Your generous investment has been rewarded! Thank you! And yet more opportunity awaits…
My (Steve’s) ¾ time ministry as Lead Pastor at Bethel Christian Fellowship (BCF) will replace my Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) teaching. I continue as only as an adjunct. In my ¼ time with TEAM, two other important roles will continue at the same pace: My writing and other communication to give wise, Christian responses to witchcraft accusations. My work in advising and communicating for Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC), including annual visits to Tanzania.
But TEAM is about a BIG team that goes far beyond Janice and me …
Tanzania needs MANY MORE trained ministers!
Why? The number of Tanzanian Christians grew from 5 million in 1970 to 27.5 million in 2010. It is projected 93.5 million by 2050! What kind of Christians will they be? Currently 60% of Tanzanians believe that sacrifices to ancestors or spirits can protect them from harm. But imagine how 93 million well-disciplined followers could transform their 43 million Muslim neighbors, Tanzania, and the world! What an opportunity!
Record 550 minister-students at LVCC in 2016 (growth from 35 in 1995)!
TEAM provides the tuition and a book per class for 550 students who continue to be active in their ministries. 170 ministers, instead of the usual 85, were trained last year in the three short-term residential sites. Almost all of these new students already pastor churches, but have not had opportunity to attend any Bible school before.
Yet TEAM financial support has not been adequate
Over the last decade, inflation doubled the cost of everything in Tanzania. LVCC leaders have continued to tighten their belts, but the budget never had any fat. Regular giving from TEAM to LVCC has remained the same. We did that much by not taking all of our salary for the past 8 years (even though our expenses were higher than the salary). We hope that reducing the salary we take from TEAM further will finally enable us to adequately support LVCC operations.
We would love to do more. We have enjoyed giving personally and sometimes found special grants/donors for some key, extra opportunities. For example, would you like to join us in any of these?[
· Seminars for a Christian response to witchcraft accusations
· Building campuses on land already purchased for LVCC
· Scholarships for missions students at NEGST
· Roofing materials for churches
· Assisting local churches in supporting their neediest 100+ orphans and 100+widows
We want to build higher on the great foundation built by this great TEAM which includes African leaders and you as supporters! Let me encourage you to increase your ongoing or one time investment in East Africa and its ministers.
Dear TEAM partners,
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 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. (Phil. 1:3-6)
This is definitely how I feel about YOU and our African partners! Thank you! Together, God has led us through many different phases and assignments, but we have remained faithful to our calling and core business: Training ministers. We have taught those who would be faithful to teach others (2 Tim 2:2). Then we have released and sometimes relocated so they can develop while we continue to support them. The apostle Paul had a similar pattern of training and moving, but continuing to write, advise, visit, and teach.
In Tanzania, Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC) grew from 35 when we arrived to now having 550 students. We moved to Nairobi to teach missions students while releasing and supporting LVCC. After 8 years of teaching missions at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST), we sense that we have completed our major assignments there. My former students do missions, teach, pastor, doctor and lead around the globe. Others have completed or are completing PhDs.
After much prayer and discernment together with others, God has lead us to shift the focus of our training ministers. I will shift to adjunct at NEGST. As Lead Pastor at Bethel Christian Fellowship, I will focus on training members to minister interculturally. Instead of living in Nairobi and visiting MN every other year for some months, we will be ministering from St. Paul and visiting Africa for about one month each year. I will also focus on TEAM work one day each week while in the USA. Our “ligament ministry” connecting and growing up the body of Christ will continue (Eph. 4:16).
Communication with LVCC and about witchcraft and witch accusations will continue at the same pace. I will advise, visit once a year, and raise funds for LVCC. In 2017, Sam Kunhiyop and I plan to write our book for African pastors, What about Witches? A Christian Response for Sufferers and Suspects. BCF has allowed me to step away from pastoring from March 6 – June 5 to focus on TEAM assignments – especially writing the book and visiting supporting churches.
God surprised us by leading us back to BCF where I began ministering as a member 35 years ago and as full-time assistant pastor 25 years ago. Only such a House of Prayer for All Nations would encourage their Lead Pastor to spend ¼ of his time on TEAM. This allows me to train BCF’s leaders, but also not get in their way.
Please do keep praying during this transition for all the members of TEAM including us, BCF, and African partners. We trust God to carry on and complete the work He has begun. We pray He continues to lead and enable each of us in our part.
With gratitude and joy,
Rev. Steve Rasmussen, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Africa International University (AIU)
Director, Training East African Ministers (TEAM)
Kids finding their way… back to Africa
We praise God that Hannah continues to thrive in Nairobi. In fact, the Africa Study Bible launches today in Kenya! Justin is learning lots about public health research in Mbarara, Uganda. God has answered prayers for community and Christian fellowship for him. Isaac returned from Kenya today, where he did a water project with Northwestern’s Engineers without Borders. He plans to study abroad in Ghana this summer. Rachel is busy writing a grant to do a community development internship in a Nairobi slum this summer.
Letter from the head lay elder of our church, BCF:
Dear friends of TEAM,
It is my great privilege to write you today and share an important update about the ministry of Steve and Janice Rasmussen and their work with Training East African Ministers (TEAM). Our church body at Bethel Christian Fellowship (BCF) in St. Paul has had the joy of sending and supporting them in their ministry in East Africa since 1995, when they first went to Mwanza, Tanzania, to serve at Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC). We are very grateful for your faithful participation with us in the ministry of TEAM, as shown by your generous support through prayer, finances, and relationship the past twenty-two years.
Many things have changed for Steve and Jan since they first went to Tanzania with their very young children Hannah and Justin. Their family grew to include a stillborn daughter named Esther Hope and their twins Isaac and Rachel. Over the years Steve’s ministry grew from his work as LVCC teacher and principal to the expanded role of training ministers in multiple sites and developing Tanzanian leaders who now run LVCC with advice, communication, and fund-raising assistance from him. In a visit to LVCC in 2002, I was both humbled and challenged by the authenticity of devotion to Christ and commitment to ministry that I saw in the Tanzanian leaders and the ministers who were training there.
Steve’s work to complete his PhD in missiology in 2008 deepened his understanding of ministry in Africa and led to its broadening. That same year, he began training missionaries from thirty-five countries at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) in Kenya. After serving there for eight years, he and Jan returned to the United States for a yearlong sabbatical from AIU, beginning this past summer.
Shortly after Steve and Jan arrived in St. Paul, Steve graciously agreed to serve our church body at BCF as half-time Interim Lead Pastor while he continued to minister half-time with TEAM. As Steve ministered to us, prayed with our Elder Board, and worked with our staff, we began to see that he might be the person God was calling to be our next permanent Lead Pastor. With our calling to be a House of Prayer for All Nations, we recognized that he is uniquely qualified to minister across the various cultural differences in our congregation and to help train us as leaders in intercultural ministry.
Thus, when Steve and Jan expressed openness to serve as BCF’s new Lead Pastor, we began the process of discovering if God would confirm that this was His plan. Our Elder Board agreed to submit the possibility to our staff and ministry coordinators in December and January. Both leadership groups prayerfully considered it and unanimously affirmed our belief that this was of God. We presented Steve as our pastoral candidate to the entire congregation in early February, and our membership unanimously affirmed him as our new Lead Pastor on Saturday, March 4.
So what does this mean for Steve and Jan? What does this mean for the ministry of TEAM?
Steve will begin his ministry as BCF’s Lead Pastor on June 5. He and Jan will also continue their ministry with TEAM. Like you, we at BCF place high value on TEAM. Therefore, we are releasing Steve as our Lead Pastor, to give a quarter of his ministry hours to provide ongoing leadership support to TEAM through writing projects, communications, advising, fund-raising, and occasional travel.
Because Steve will be giving a quarter of his ministry hours to TEAM ministry, one-fourth of his salary will come from TEAM funds. We see this as an opportunity for expanded ministry, especially in Tanzania. With a smaller portion of TEAM funds required for Steve’s compensation, there is now an opportunity for TEAM to utilize more funds in strategic investment for the building of God’s kingdom in East Africa.
What does this mean for you as a TEAM supporter? As Steve and Jan’s sending church the past twenty-two years, we are very grateful for your partnership with TEAM. We appreciate the support you have shown for the work of TEAM, Steve and Jan, and the Tanzanian leaders of LVCC. Here at BCF, we are maintaining our current level of support for TEAM in this new season of Steve and Jan’s ministry. We encourage you to also continue or perhaps increase your current level of giving for the training of East African ministers.
Please be praying for God’s continued guidance and grace for Steve and Jan, their family, and the exciting developments of their ministry. We thank God that we can share together with you in the ministry of TEAM.
Sincerely in Christ,
Lead Lay Elder at Bethel Christian Fellowship, St. Paul, MN USA
Addendum from Dr. Jim Olson
One of the greatest blessings of being the Lead Pastor of BCF for twenty-six years was the opportunity to partner with Steve and Jan Rasmussen and the ministry of TEAM. As I have now transitioned into my new role as the President of the Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation, it gives me great joy to know that Steve is stepping into the role of Lead Pastor of BCF AND continuing to lead the efforts of TEAM. I wholeheartedly agree with Ken and BCF in encouraging your continued support for Steve and Jan and TEAM in this new season of expanded ministry.
Visiting TEAM’s supporting churches & friends
While back in the US, we have also participated in Duluth Gospel Tab’s 100th and Hope Christian Church’s 95th anniversary as well as Lake City Church’s missions convention in Madison, WI and FCA family camp in Fosston, MN. We have also enjoyed seeing most of our individual supporters and hope to see more of you soon!
The dynamic duo above are off to a great start at NU, found a good church and have plugged into a campus ministry.
Steve has been able to share in variety of churches and with supporters as well as to continue supervision of AIU students. His half-time interim lead pastoring has begun well. He has enjoyed working with the leaders at Bethel Christian Fellowship.
Jan finished transcribing her 67 research interviews, with the help of the twins. Her article was recently published at http://henrycenter.tiu.edu/
Justin got an exciting job in the field he wants to pursue!
Hannah finished edits on the Africa Study Bible, started as Acquisitions Editor and her new book is out!
LVCC continues well with its doubled classes of ministers.
Please pray for…
Rachel and Isaac: Being light and salt at Northwestern University
Steve: Effectiveness and balance: Leading Bethel Christian Fellowship including weekly teaching at on “Treasuring One Another Across Cultures” and preaching every other week from Genesis on “Thriving in Tough Times.” TEAM ministry including writing on witchcraft accusations.
Jan: Efficient analyzing and writing on “Teaching International Students” and for us as we enter the empty nest phase!
Justin: Settling in well to work and life in Mbarara, Uganda & finding a church and community
Hannah: Balancing work, study, book promotions, and friends
AIU: Vision, leadership, and encouragement for faculty and staff in changing times
LVCC: Strength, wisdom and provision for training more students. For God to prepare the next generation of leaders.
They are settling in well – Isaac is majoring in mechanical engineering and Rachel, in human development & psychological services (pre-social work). They joined the campus ministry called Chi-Alpha and are excited to go to a church in Chicago with a Swahili service. They coach kids for work study. For a glimpse of us saying good-bye, see https://www.facebook.com/
Justin has a job! In November he is moving to Mbarara, Uganda to do public health research and community health education for 18-24 months. He joins a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital and Mbarara University of Science and Technology in southwestern Uganda. He sends a big thanks to all of you who prayed and helped him along in his search this summer. If you want to hear more from him directly, send him an email.
Family milestones and job changes from Hannah
This May, all of my siblings graduated! A perfectly timed work-trip allowed me to be in Minnesota for Justin’s birthday & graduation from Macalester College (photo above), as well as Grandpa Rasmussen’s 90th birthday.
Then I flew back to Kenya just in time for Rachel and Isaac’s high school graduation (above photo)! My family is now in the US for college / a year-long sabbatical, and I’ve welcomed two friends as housemates.
For the past two years I have been editorial managing the Africa Study Bible. We have completed all editorial! PRAISE GOD! See more at http://oasisint.net/africa-
Now I am doing my new dream job! I am an Associate Acquisitions Editor with the same publisher, Oasis International. I find African Christian authors and work with them on developing their book concept into a final manuscript. I do this role half-time and am taking Master of Divinity classes at Africa International University for the next 3 years (pictured above).
Leading, ‘Riting and Relationships
We are now in St. Paul, Minnesota for a year of ministry focused on the 3 Rs: leading, ‘riting, and relationships.
Writing: After 8 years of teaching, AIU has given me a year sabbatical. I will move the “What about witches?” book to the front burner. God enabled Jan to interview over 60 international students and professors around Nairobi. Now she needs to type up and analyze them and then write her dissertation.
Relationships: Home assignment as a missionary means focusing on relationships with the USA members of the TEAM, this time especially with our sending church (Bethel Christian Fellowship http://betheltwinscities.org/#
Leading: BCF’s elders have asked me to serve as interim senior pastor from Sept 15. They want me to split my ministry between pastoring and TEAM for some months while they call the next pastor. During those months, BCF will pay half of my salary and continue fully supporting TEAM. TEAM will pay the other half of my salary. Please pray for effective ministry in all of our roles.
The Rasmussens (above) met at camp in August. The Horsagers (below) gathered at the family farm in July. What a privilege to be with family!
Pastor-students at LVCC more than double!
TEAM will also continue to support Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC) with three quarters of its expenses. Those expenses have increased for a great reason: 170 instead of the usual 85 or so ministers were trained last session in the three short-term residential sites. Most of these new students are pastors of churches who have not had opportunity to attend any Bible school before.
Right now, Musa, our former student and current missionary to the unreached is teaching missions in Mwanza while Nestory is teaching Books of Moses in Musoma. The Ngara school starts the end of August.
Thanks for your prayers. The Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference in early March in Nairobi went great! Over 200 scholars, students, and church leaders participated for two days – double the number and time we have had at any previous Africa Society of Evangelical Theology (ASET) meeting. We also plan to produce two books. (ASET is finishing its first book from last year’s conference.)
What does the Bible say on witchcraft?
The first day, various experts, mostly African elders, shared their expertise on the topic. Steve connected the research, the practical situation in the villages, and the Biblical teachings. He really challenged us to trust in God’s power (not fear deceivers and accusers), and to care for the accused (usually widows, orphans, and the vulnerable). Steve’s hard drive crashing that morning made him trust God – and the Holy Spirit REALLY enabled him!
Before the meetings, Bishop Sam Kunhiyop and Steve, with writing expertise from Hannah, discussed the book they are writing on witchcraft accusations for pastors, funded by Tyndale Foundation. Pray for this book to come together. This will be a priority in our sabbatical this next school year.
Church leaders and researchers go deeper
Then, as a follow-up from our 2013 conference, 20 of us committed to working on this issue met for two days to share in depth what we are learning and doing about witchcraft accusations around Africa, and to make plans to collaborate more. Steve’s mentor Dr. Priest led us.
We discussed some of the things we had been posting on the blog at http://henrycenter.tiu/
From the DR Congo, we heard Rev. Abel Ngolo report how families and some pastors identify children as witches and even torture then to exorcise the witchcraft. However, he is ministering to these children and teaching pastors how to better handle the situation. (In Kinshasa, 70% of 20,000 street kids were chased from their homes for such accusations).
Members of this group conducted and conference and then a survey of 700+ pastors. One result of the survey was that pastors with less theological education were more likely to be accusing children. Because Pentecostal pastors have less training, they are also more likely to be involved. (Training saves lives!)
Reporting on village seminars in TZ
Many were impressed with the training being done by the Pentecostal pastors we work with in Tanzania. The Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC) deans presented with Janice their approach to this hot issue in 19 seminars to over 1000 villagers. Jan contributed her expertise in adult education to the whole four days. She submitted a post for the blog so you can read more soon..
We enjoyed this conference because we got to introduce our friends to each other: 10 church leaders from Tanzania we have worked with for decades, colleagues and students from AIU and other theological schools, as well as Steve’s mentors from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, who sponsored it with ASET. Above, Steve is with the former Dean Tienou of Trinity International University, Chicago and the LVCC Deans from Tanzania: Revs. Benesta Misana, Raphael Okeyo, and Nestory Lunyilija.
Out of the desire to make a difference we formed a coalition: Light: Christians Addressing Witchcraft and Witch Accusations. Steve was encouraged to lead this group into vision, a mission statement, etc. We formed a board of ten top scholars and church leaders, which includes the heads of three churches based in Nigeria, Ghana, and Malawi totaling more than 14 million Christians. Other members are from Kenya, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, USA, and UK. Please pray for this community of Light to move ahead in bringing light to local communities.
- Thanks, too, for your prayers for Chinyere Priest. She is recovering.
- Jan got ethical review board approval. Pray for the Kenyan government research permit to come quickly and for her interviews.
- Jan and Steve have 3 intensive courses to teach in April as well as Steve finishing his regular semester courses.
- LVCC in Tanzania: Record numbers of students in the one-month intensive terms (53 now studying in Musoma and 59 in Mwanza) have brought great opportunity and challenge.
- Thank you! We appreciate your concern and prayers. God is faithful!
Witch Accusations and the Church conference
For the next four days, Jan and I will be staying at another university. Wednesday and Thursday we will discuss with a small working group what we have done related to Witch Accusations and the Church since the 2013 conference and make plans for next steps. Friday and Saturday we will be presenting to 150 leaders on these topics.
We are sponsoring 12 top Church and Bible College leaders from Tanzania to come and be part of this. I look forward to friends who I have worked with for decades meeting each other: from Mwanza, Chicago, Nigeria, DRC, Ghana, Malawi, Canada and Kenya.
I and others have been working hard to pull this all together. But this will only be worth anything if God does his work. I know that Satan loves accusing, deceiving, and threatening with this, but I also know that God is trustworthy and all-powerful. He loves the vulnerable especially (who are often accused). Please pray!
Please pray for complete healing for him and also for Chinyere Priest. She is my teaching assistant, PhD supervisee, and an enthusiastic learner from Nigeria. She planned to be part of this conference. She had an operation, but they cut her colon so she needed another operation to fix that. She just got home after 24 days in the hospital – mostly in intensive care. She is still in much agony, but praising Jesus for sparing her life.
Pray for Jan. She completed all revisions on her PhD research proposal. Now she is completing a detailed ethical review process, but is running out of time to do her interviews and survey before summer.
We also appreciate your prayers for our daily life, relationships and tasks. We are well and our teaching is going fine. Pray for our revision of our MA theology curriculum. Continue to pray for AIU leadership, vision, finances, and future. God enables us through your prayers.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Thank you so much for your support to us and to Training East African Ministers in 2015! God and you have been very gracious!
What a privilege to have several supporters/family/friends visit us this year. (Maybe you should come to?) Pastors Jim Olson and Tom and Alice Flaherty came as well as my sister Leann and her whole family of ten. We ended the year with a visit from Jan’s brother David Horsager, his wife Lisa, and their four great kids.
We got to show them Nairobi and introduce them to our friends, church, schools, and ministry.
David spent a full day teaching the advantages of the Trust Edge and the 8 pillars to build it with a group of senior church leaders. We also met with several of these leaders separately. We really enjoyed learning from him and seeing the excitement of about these truths from the leaders. We praise God for how he is using David’s books and teaching with many leaders, businesses, and government organizations in the USA and other countries.
A little update on our family: Janice passed her proposal defense with just some minor revisions while David’s family was here. Hannah finished her first semester of her MDiv with Hebrew and Biblical theology of mission. Rachel and Isaac have been doing well in so many activities like leading National Honor Society fundraisers and service projects. Isaac is going to Northwestern University in Chicago. NWU is also Rachel’s first choice of the eight colleges she is applying to. Justin has been leading the Intervarsity group at Macalester as well as dorm residents as a senior RA. He has enjoyed learning more about the field he hopes to serve in after graduating in May: global mental public health.
Thank you for praying for our ministry to Tenwek Hospital staff this past week!
God touched people as Steve spoke in three evening services at their Medical Missions Emphasis Week.
“We treat, Jesus heals” is seen everywhere. We learned from them and Steve challenged them in following Jesus model in Luke: declaring the kingdom of God with teaching, healing, and dealing with demons….even to our “enemies.”
Our host, Elijah Bii (pictured with his family) is chaplain to the staff and a 2015 AIU graduate.
In the mornings Steve spoke for various departments’ devotions, like the doctors’ below. He drew on his research and writing on holistic, integrated Christian responses to sickness. We also discussed with doctors, chaplains, and others how they do this and their questions and plans to do better.
We interviewed leaders in the Community Health and Development Program which is doing amazing outreach work in so many communities. Since this is one of the effective Christian organizations we have been studying in our Africa Leadership Study, it was great to meet them and learn more.
The Community Health Development Program’s motto, translated is “prevention is better than cure.”
Their work reminded me (Jan) of my past Extension nutrition work in communities, but with a Jesus model and a church base. They are working on issues like safe water, HIV/AIDS, immunizations, and community empowerment
On the four-hour drive out we had a problem with the car, but praise God we got it repaired in just an hour (and the mechanic found another problem that could have caused bigger issues).
Today is Graduation at Lake Victoria Christian College in Mwanza, TZ.
Sunday, Pastor Tom and Alice Flaherty from Madison, WI will speak at our church and then spend a few days with us.
Monday we begin our first Semester at AIU. Steve will teach Social Anthropology and Contextualization for masters and a PhD seminar on Research Methods. Hannah starts her MDiv, part-time. I (Jan) will teach Adult Education Theories.
Rachel and Isaac will head out for a week of Cultural Field Studies with Rosslyn Academy – going to different Masaai sites.