TEAM Pix October 2016: Visiting churches and family Update

Seeing old friends like the Montoneras at Living Hope Church’s 65th anniversary in Elk Grove Village, IL in Sept. – where we attended in Trinity days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Praises:

Rachel and Isaac at Northwestern University welcome week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/2016/09/pastors-teach-their-communities-to-defend-those-accused-of-witchcraft/

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.

Family News

Steve, Justin and I (Jan) dropped Rachel and Isaac at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL last month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/NorthwesternU/videos/10154522907908343/

Justin is moving to Uganda!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Justin’s graduation from Macalester College in May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear all,

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.

Rachel and Isaac’s high school graduation from Rosslyn Academy, Nairobi, Kenya with Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Africa International University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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-study-bible/.

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).

My book also released recently! Let me know if you want to hear more about Good News about Gender: A Bible Study for Young Adults (see photo below). It is available on Amazon.com and at http://www.equalitydepot.com/search.aspx?find=B1030.Thank you so much for your ongoing support! So many of these blessings are as a direct result of your prayers and God’s faithfulness.
Love, Hannah

Hannah’s writing projects

 

 

TEAM Pix March 2016: Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference a Success!

Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.)

Steve speaking in the general session of the 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’ working group

 

 

 

 

 

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/section/witch-accusations/. For example, how Nigerian movies (from “Nollywood”) are spreading witchcraft beliefs in new forms around Africa (The most recent post by Kunhiyop’s on this had over 10,000 hits.)

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!)

Jan and the deans leading session on Tanzania village workshops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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..

Connections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Coalition formed

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.
Prayer update:

  • 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEAM Pix March 1, 2016: Pray for Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference This Week!

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!

We had a good few days in Mwanza in January working with the LVCC deans. Here Janice discussed the presentation she will do together with them at this conference about the 15 seminars about witch accusations that they did. All but Pastor John Mwanzalima will come. Almost a year since his accident, he is still not well enough to travel far or sit long.

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.

 

TEAM Pix Aug. 2015 Tenwek Hospital Missions Week

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.

Tenwek Missions 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.”

Tenwek Hospital sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our host, Elijah Bii (pictured with his family) is chaplain to the staff and a 2015 AIU graduate.

 

Tenwek hosts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Tenwek morning sessions with medical personnel

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.

 

Interviewing Community Health professionals at Tenwek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Community Health Development Program’s motto, translated is “prevention is better than cure.”

Tenwek Community Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).

This week: 

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.

 

TEAM Pix June 2015: Tanzania Travels

Short version: Our whole family of six drove to Mwanza and later Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We praise God for his good work in ministries and friends we have worked with for 20 years. We thank God for healing John Mwanzalima after a terrible accident and helping us through multiple car failures on the journeys.

Story with pictures and detail: We had a great trip to Mwanza, Tanzania in June. We went to see our friend, John Mwanzalima, principal of LVCC. He had a very bad accident on public transportation. He spent 6 weeks flat in bed in so much pain that he couldn’t roll himself over, with a couple cracked ribs and damaged hip. He was finally walking with a cane when we saw him. He rejoiced greatly to be alive and able to recover since a number of others died. Please continue to pray for his full recovery.

John Mwanzalima and Steve

We were invited to visit so many old friend’s homes. Great to see God blessing and using these Tanzanians and missionaries! We experienced many familiar places though there is much change – paved roads, towering hotels and a four story mall nearing completion. I (Steve) also spoke to a missionary team, two churches, and at the chapel of another Christian college (see below).

Steve preaching in PAG Bible School chapel

 

On Father’s Day, I preached in the village outside Musoma where I went to language school in 1986 and again with our young family in 1995. Then there was no PEFA (Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa – the church under which we serve many churches in Tanzania) church there. Now you can see (below) that there is a thriving church pastored by Bishop Benester, LVCC dean and our co-worker all of these years. This is the biggest church and church roof that I have seen built by a local congregation in PEFA. 20 years ago, PEFA in Northwestern Tanzania had only three permanent buildings with metal roofs in all of NW Tanzania – all built with funds from outside. For awhile, we found donors to help with roofing materials for congregations that built concrete or brick buildings. Slowly this encouragement got congregations building. Now about 40 (of 200) PEFA churches in NW TZ have permanent buildings. Rejoice!  

Praise and worship in Musoma PEFA church, where Benester pastors

 

Later on Father’s Day we watched the sun set on a rocky peninsula where we had a picnic celebration of Father’s Day 20 years earlier. This trip was a perfect way to celebrate 20 years for our family in East Africa! Thank you for supporting our family, LVCC, and these Tanzanian churches for all of these years!

Father’s Day in Musoma, 1995

 

Family back in Mwanza, June 2015

Hannah led a youth group in Mwanza and enjoyed being “home” after 5 years. The twins led a VBS for missionary kids (photo below), did Swahili lessons and then went to the village alone for 5 days. Justin spent two months in Tanzania researching how people care for the mentally ill in hospitals, churches and traditional healing.

Rachel and Isaac helped lead a missionary kids’ VBS

 

Hannah, Jan and I left the others after two weeks. God protected us on the way home despite driving with a broken wheel bearing that got increasingly bad. In July, we drove to Dar Es Salaam on the Indian ocean coast to meet my brother, Nathan, his wife Karen, their daughter Kari and son-in-law Brian. On this trip, the engine died and would not restart on three different days. I spent each of the 10 days on the trip and another 10 afterward dealing with fixing the van. But God provided a tow, housing with missionary friends, or barely got us to our next destination. Jan summarized it well with “Yes, we are not in control, but it is okay because God is in control!”

On facebook, a friend said, “Sorry … The lesson is GET A BETTER CAR!!!! …It is hindering your ministry…I will put my money where my mouth is. Because of duty a decent van in Kenya runs $20,000. You bucket of bolts is worth maybe $3000. You raise $16,700 from your supporters and as a fellow missionary I will kick in the last $300. Deal?”

So I agreed. Please pray with us about getting get a better vehicle. Contributions are welcome also!

Car troubles …again!

 

Pray also for:

·       Next Tuesday to Friday we will be driving 6 hours to Tenwek Christian hospital to preach to all of their staff for three nights of their first missions conference. Pray that God would speak through me and people would obey.

·       The Mwanza and Musoma LVCC Bible school sessions running now.

·       The NEGST-AIU semester which starts August 31.

 

 

 

 

A people-full summer – Aug. 10

The summer has been packed with seeing people and reporting what God has been doing through Training East African Ministers and Missionaries. Wonderful to be able to report in person to our great supporters. You all pay our salary to teach missions to students from 28 countries at AIU in Kenya. You also pay expenses for teaching 450 ministers at LVCC in Tanzania. And God does even more with your prayers! Several said they pray for us daily – how encouraging!

One church example: I enjoyed teaching a hundred leaders from the 7 multicultural congregations of the Bethel Family of churches,  and then preaching to a combined service that was overflowing out of the sanctuary. Fantastic to see the fulfillment of visions God gave us for a “house of prayer for all nations” 25 years ago when I was assistant pastor at this church (now our sending church).

Inspiring the next generation – Presenting to one of the Vacation Bible School classes at the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle in Minnesota.

 

 

 

We have really enjoyed individual time with family, friends, and other supporters. We are so grateful for each of you!

Big Blessing: Our big families are our biggest individual financial, emotional, and prayer supporters. Below: the Rasmussens reunite at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp this past week. (The six siblings across the bottom.) They came from the far corners of the USA as well as Tanzania and Kenya. What a great time!

The Wacky Rasmussen family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We head back to Kenya tomorrow. Rachel and Isaac start school on Tues. at Rosslyn Academy.  AIU starts on Aug. 25.  We need your prayers as Steve takes on the Head of Missions department role and Jan jumps into a research class.

Some have asked about how to donate:  You can give by hitting the “Donate” button on this website or by sending a check to TEAM, c/o Bethel Christian Fellowship, 1466 Portland Ave. St. Paul, MN 55104 USA.

Thanks!

International students, international wedding, and international leadership conference

God really answered our prayer today! We tried lots of hassle for 9 months to get our Tanzanian work permit renewed (so we can be fully legitimate when working in Tanzania), but were finally told we could not have one. This week, in a last attempt to get our money refunded, immigration gave the permit today instead!

Tomorrow until July 4, we will be going back to LVCC in Mwanza Tanzania. We will meet as a board for updates on the Bible school, church, and orphan ministry. But the primary purpose is to meet with leaders from various denominations to design a discussion-based seminar about witchcraft and witch accusations. Then, together, we will train trainers to lead discussions in the villages. Now, people live in fear and suspicion.  Poor widows are often persecuted and alienated as accused witches. As many as 5 suspected witches are killed each week in these areas and rarely is anyone convicted of the murder. The churches have not effectively responded to this. The power, truth, and love of Jesus are needed.  Please pray for the right leaders to come, wisdom from the Holy Spirit in designing and training, funding, and transformation in these villages.

Above:  International students led worship in chapel June 6, singing in various languages represented at AIU.

 

Please pray for AIU in this time of major transition.  As AIU has expanded by adding new programs, the expenses of expansion have exceeded the expansion of students and donors.  This expansion and the sudden death of the Vice Chancellor, V.C. (our college president) has brought new leadership.  We are excited for the new V.C. who begins July 1.  Professor Nassiuma was V. C. of a larger Kenyan university previously and has been at AIU in another job for one year.  Pray for clear vision and wisdom from God for AIU’s many new leaders.  Also pray for a reconciliation process happening in chapel this week.

 

Praying for AIU students at marriage negotiations

 

Two or our AIU students, David and BJ, are getting married July 19.  Above: We represented David’s parents in dowry negotiations in the Meru area of Kenya.  Here, we are praying a blessing on the couple at the celebration, after they had been wrapped together symbolically in traditional cloth.

 

 

 

Mount Meru

 

Great views of Mount Kenya on our way back from Meru.

 

 

 

 

Leadership conference

Above is the very international group who met to further the Africa Leadership Study.  Research continues around the continent.

Rasmussens return to Kenya Jan. 5th

Travel can be a challenge – especially the packing!

What a privilege! God has blessed us with …

  • his presence,
  • health,
  • kids adjusting well in college,
  • skills and positions to influence leaders from across Africa,
  • You! – a great TEAM supporting us in prayer and finances!

Praise God that even through these recession years, TEAM kept teaching more than 500 of Africa’s key leaders. TEAM cut anything else we could and so did the leaders in Tanzania (including all our salaries).
Call it faith or foolishness, our sending church approves our return even though TEAM financial support still lacks more than $1000 a month. (Many other missions would make us stay in the USA to raise support.) This leaves you plenty of opportunity to invest in Training African ministers and missionaries!
What joy to visit with so many friends, family, and supporters! We personally reported to 90+% of our financial supporters from all over the USA. We learned / taught in 6 conferences. We spoke to 50+ groups in these 5.5 months from God’s word and/or about His work in East Africa. Offerings and not paying kids high school fees has allowed TEAM to catch up. We enjoyed glimpsing some of Hannah and Justin’s life at Macalester College. We met many of their friends and mentors. Clearly they are learning a lot as well as influencing the campus for Jesus. We will be sad to say good-byes to them, our parents, extended family, friends, and church.  But Rachel and Isaac will be so happy to return to their school in Kenya, Rosslyn Academy on Jan. 8.  They are still finishing up on-line school.  Jan will return to her work as International Student Coordinator and continue to research cultural aspects of learning at Africa International University.  Steve will focus on writing from January – March.