TEAM Pix April 2017: TEAM Continues Strong

The trustworthy LVCC deans with whom I have worked for the past 22 years continue to run LVCC with your support (L to R: Raphael, Benester, John, Nestory)

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!

Thank you SO MUCH for your financial and prayer support to TEAM over these 22 years!  Praise God for what he has done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mwanza students in front of LVCC’s only classroom and dormitory in 2016

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.

Opportunity awaits!

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.


Feel free to designate your gift and 100% will be given to that opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEAM Pix: August 2016: 3 Rs

Thanks for your prayers for our intensive courses. Jan just finished her grading. I am still grading and supervising PhD students (like those from my intensive class 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/#/home). TEAM is a ministry of BCF. For 22 years, BCF has graciously contributed significant administrative and financial support every month and passed on every dollar from other donors.

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.

Rasmussen Family Reunion at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Horsager Family Reunion at Clar-Mar Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Musoma school last session. Please pray for the current sessions.

 

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.

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 March 2015 Writing and Teaching about Witches

My (Steve’s) research on sickness, death and witches taught me how critical this is to people’s life and faith in Jesus in Tanzania, Africa, and the world. For example a person suspected of being a witch is murdered every day in Tanzania alone. But at first, my attempts to teach and write about this met with repeated closed doors. So we kept praying and talking. 

God has now opened many doors! Now we really need YOU to pray us through them!

Teaching counselors and teachers

 

In December, John Jusu and I taught probably the first class ever in “Witchcraft, Accusations and Counseling” at the request of the psychology and counseling department at AIU (below).

Those who we taught in the 2013 seminar in Tanzania have now begun seminars in 15 locations across NW Tanzania inviting church and community leaders to respond better to witchcraft accusations and persecutions.
Writing
The article that Hannah and I wrote for the top missiology journal inspired them to make a theme issue, which is free online. (Go to this link http://www.internationalbulletin.org/issues/2015-01/2015-01-012-rasmussen.html)
IBMR article by Steve and Hannah

 

I have also been asked by the Henry Center for Theological Understanding to join a team of mostly African scholars and church leaders who will be blogging on this topic for the next 10 months. I will write 10 blog posts and respond to others.

I am nearly done with the first draft of an article and 18 notes on particular scriptures related to witches for the Africa Study Bible.

Samuel Kunhiyop, Hannah and I now have Hippo Publishers committed to publish our book on “What about witches: Christian response to sufferers and suspects” – once we write it.

ASET – I am currently chair of the Africa Society of Evangelical Theology. This Saturday (March 7) is our annual meeting. We focused the theme on Christian Response to Suffering and more than doubled the number of presentations on everything from terrorism to Job. Presentations somewhat related to witchcraft will include Janice, myself, Bob Priest (my former supervisor – USA), and 2 students I am supervising. Dr. Isaiah Majok Dau, bishop of the Sudan Pentecostal Church will be flying in straight from the fire of war in Sudan.  We have an agreement with Langham literature to make a book from the best of the presentations.

The following week (March 9-13) Jan and I will go to a writing retreat where I and others will revise and finalize our chapters for a book from our Africa Leadership Study. I am writing about the top African leaders’ use of intercultural skills – NOT about witchcraft for a change.

Please Pray! So far, writing has been a struggle.  All of these have something due in the next week and more in the months ahead! Only the Holy Spirit through your prayers can enable Jan, myself and others to write what will reduce fear, ostracism, beatings and murders. Only God can give us the focus and fruitfulness to write all of this in addition to all of our regular responsibilities (For example, Jan is teaching one class and finishing her last PhD class. I am teaching three and supervising 7 student’s research projects.)

Other prayer requests:

  • Good guidance for Janice as she writes her PhD dissertation research proposal.
  • Challenges at AIU: Clear vision, Student – management disagreements, Finances
  • LVCC: Now teaching an intensive month of classes in both Mwanza and Musoma, Title deed for the 17 acres in Mwanza, Finances

 

Christmas gift opportunities – Dec. 2013

Looking for a unique Christmas gift for someone who has everything AND someone who doesn’t?

LVCC grads in Tanzania

Let us share with you a few of the fun giving/investments that our family has been doing for several years….
You are welcome to join us:

  1. Scholarships: $15 x 10 givers = $150 for a Tanzanian minister to study for an intensive term [$1200 for a whole diploma course - like those pictured above]

  2. Necessities for the most needy orphans and widows. Local Tanzanian churches give the most needy what is most needed whether that is food, job skills, school fees, etc. The churches have already carefully selected and sacrificed to help 106 widows and 114 orphans regularly. We get to add something to encourage them in this great work done sacrificially with close-up wisdom. [any amount]

  3. We have enjoyed contributing to the tuition of 9 of the regular LVCC teachers’ children for several year [any amount]

  4. Defending widows and others from persecution as suspected widows: $80 X 10 givers = $800 for each 3 day seminar for village government officials, health officers and church leaders

If you want to give a unique gift like this or an end of year contribution to Training East African Ministers, hit the donate button at http://team.wingriver.com/ or send a check to TEAM, 1466 Portland Ave. St. Paul, MN 55104.

Does your wife work? Oct., 2013

Janice Horsager Rasmussen is staff, faculty, and student at Africa International University as well as working at home. She does not get a salary from any of those, but she does get an office.

Jan teaching “Personal and Spiritual Development” at AIU

As AIU’s International Student Coordinator, Jan has been working very hard for several weeks to welcome and help settle AIU’s 38 new international students from 17 countries. This includes arranging volunteers, having some for meals, connecting them with their housing, taking them for a first shopping trip, giving them campus tours, and connecting them with various resources on campus.

Hosting international students at AIU

“Wageni ni baraka” guests are a blessing!


 

She also manages all of the household, (good) meals, shopping and high school kids’ activities / transport. She keeps the rest of us going. She is an amazing wife and mother!!

But her home not only blesses our family. For example, half of the days in July and August we had families as overnight guests from Tanzania or USA.

For example, Guilds (pictured below) have been missionary friends since 2000. They also hosted us in their guest house for two weeks when we were teaching in Mwanza in June. They enjoyed cool Nairobi July-August weather for fires and smores. (Since we are a bit south of the equator and at 6200 feet elevation, those are our coolest months, like fall weather in Minnesota. The fireplace is our only heat.)

Mwanza missionary friends visit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this means that Jan’s M.Phil. research on learning experiences of international students at AIU informs her work, but has not progressed much for three months. She requests prayer as she is trying to make progress on it now. She has typed up her dozen interviews with international students and is now identifying the themes throughout the interviews.

Yes, God works through Jan’s gifts of hospitality, missions, and teaching! Please pray for God’s continued enabling to her in the many opportunities that he has given her. Pray for guidance for her future as well.

 

After all the grading comes… graduation!

Steve carrying the mace in AIU graduation procession

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am  privileged to now be following the man walking behind me: Africa International University’s experienced, humble, new Vice Chancellor, Dankit Nassiuma [on the left.] Saturday was his official installation as well as our AIU graduation. They asked me to carry the heavy brass mace which is the symbol of Africa International University. [The VC is equivalent to a USA college president. The Chancellor between us is a symbolic position.]

 

AIU’s 28th graduation ceremony

We have missed the friendship and leadership of Douglas Carew. Please continue to pray for AIU in this challenging transition time. Now we need renewed vision, students, finances, favor, wisdom. Pray that we will together fulfill God’s mission in His world: AIU is “Committed to His mission. Connected to His world.” We have a place in what God is doing! Thank you for taking your place by praying and financially supporting us so that we can freely give ourselves for “Christ-centered leaders in Africa educated to transform God’s people and world.” (see more at www.aiu.ac.ke)

AIU’s 2013 graduates – 95 students from certificate to PhD, with the top leaders in front.

 

                                           

Opportunities in Abundance! – May 2013

God has answered your prayers to open doors. He has given us many opportunities.Now please pray that God will enable us to do his will going through those doors.

 Research and Writing – I have been called to minister through writing. At first, I only met closed doors, but now doors are opening faster than I can go through them. Thankfully two book chapters and a book review were published early this year. The top journal in Missiology is reviewing another article.

 The first of March I led the Africa Society of Evangelical Theology conference as vice chairman and became chairman. I was invited to write up an article from my conference presentation on “Money, Ministry and Middlemen.” This week I have been analyzing the surveys and interviews from our three-year Africa Leadership Study (ALS) and will write a chapter from them.

 June 19-22, I and many of my African colleagues will be presenting on the ALS and also on witch accusations at the American Society of Missiology meetings in St Paul, MN. Afterward, Samuel Kunhiyop and I will meet to work on a book for pastors on how to respond to witches.

 

Jan’s MPhil thesis draft

Jan (see left) has finished a 220 page MPhil thesis draft on international students at AIU! She has also begun the new PhD in Education here. All of her MPhil credits will apply in the PhD. Pray for how she should use her MPhil thesis.

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching – Steve is teaching Intro to Missions and a PhD class on Advanced Contextualization. He taught Leadership Development and Anthropological Research Methods last term. Jan taught Spiritual and Personal Development.

 Pastoring & Administration – For two months I have added another job – Acting Dean of Community Life. This means that I am pastor for the community, including overseeing chapel, grace group, bereavements, etc. but also that I am in meetings most days, sometimes for much of the day.  Jan has settled in another batch of international students and set up a fun hike for international student families in April (see below). 170 international students study at AIU.

 

AIU international student outing

 

 

Pray for AIU Transitions – Please pray for the transitions at Africa International University. After the sudden death of our vice chancellor, the top management is almost all new. Many of our friends and neighbors have also left. Transition to a University is bringing many changes. AIU is trying to sell land to get out of major debt.

 

AIU gives us opportunity to invest in influential students. They make good impact for God’s kingdom. Some of our alumni and students are former Mus!ims. They have been part of more than 10,0000 Mus!ims following Jesus and more than 100 churches of Mus!im background believers. According to this article, they are not the only ones seeing breakthroughs in the Mus!im world:

In June and July, we have opportunities in the USA to speak in churches, professional meetings and visiting family, friends and supporters. We hope we have opportunity to see you.  Email us or call BCF at 651-645-1534.

 Thanks for your prayer and support!