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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

20 years Training Ministers and Missionaries in East Africa as a TEAM

We are so thankful for YOU! Why?

January 8th marks 20 years since we arrived with two babies in East Africa. All of these years, we have worked side by side with the wise, faithful Tanzanian leaders below.

 

LVCC Deans and Rasmussen family together at AIU in Nairobi

 

 

Front Row, L to R – Raphael, Benester, John, Nestory. In addition to running Lake Victoria Christian College, these men each pastor a church, lead a region of churches (totaling 280 churches) and are recent or current national leaders.  Back Row- 5 of our family – Janice, Isaac, Steve. Rachel, Hannah

The top leadership of LVCC met our top leader at AIU – the VC, Prof. Dankitt Nassiuma. Nice for us to have our bosses meet one another so they know about our responsibilities in both places.

We took these pictures a week before Christmas when they came from Tanzania to Nairobi for an LVCC board meeting. During our meetings, we thanked them for all of their wisdom, faithfulness, and hard work for just $150/month. They said “Look at all that has transpired because of your perseverance, especially in those tough early years,” and “You have done something no missionary has ever done – continued financial support even after moving away” [from Tanzania to Kenya to teach missions at AIU]. But all of that is really YOU who faithfully pray, give, encourage all these 20 years. YOU are key TEAM members. You pray perseverance and fruitfulness into us. Only God records your faithful prayers, but my records show your faithful giving to TEAM – in fact more than 20 of you churches and individuals have supported TEAM monthly for all 20 years. You have prayed and given even though most of you have never heard the encouragement from these leaders or met the ministers and missionaries being trained.

When we came to Mwanza, Raphael was head student of 35.  John and Nestory had recently graduated in the first class. 465 ministers are studying now. The deans told of the reputation our graduates have given LVCC in many denominations through their very effective pastoring. Tens of thousands have been trained in seminars. They talked of how the marriage seminars continue to be taught spontaneously although TEAM sponsorship ended a decade ago. They told Hannah that when they give money from her to orphans and widows they encourage Tanzanians to continue to give because “this comes from students like you.”

We discussed the seminar we conducted on witch accusations, the 4 follow-up seminars, and the plans for more. They discussed how engrained and disastrous misunderstandings on this were in local villages and even churches, but how our teaching is slowly changing worldviews and community relationships. They were excited about my writing and teaching on this and that their research with me has become part of an international movement.

John also gave the great news that the 17 acres of land in Mwanza had been resurveyed and the legal obstacles removed. It should be ready to build on this year (and will need to be built on within 3 years or the government will give it to others).

Although we apologized that TEAM had been unable to give 3 months of our regular support in 2014, Benester responded with faith, “let us just pray that God will supply by the end of the year.”

[If you want to give a special gift as part of answering that prayer, you can donate online here or to avoid having any percentage taken by credit card companies send it to TEAM, 1466 Portland Ave. St Paul, MN 55104. As always, 100% of your giving will go to ministry in East Africa; nothing is taken for administrative charges.]

Again, I cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers, giving, and trust through the years! God has used you to do amazing things in Tanzania and across Africa!

 

Celebrating Impact

Sometimes friendship, teaching and research overlap. We discovered in our Africa Leadership Study that a number of the most influential Christian organizations in Kenya have AIU-NEGST graduates as both the top and assistant leaders. Two prominent examples: The sister organization to InterVarsity in the USA – Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS) has 42,000 university students involved in its ministry in Kenya and has evangelized, discipled and trained many Kenyan leaders. National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) influences everyone from the government down.

Now some of these leaders are being replaced….by more recent NEGST graduates and friends of ours. Please celebrate with them (and yourself for your indirect impact). Also pray with them as they take up these significant responsibilities.

Below…I taught George in a couple of my classes and Mary in many since she graduated with her MA in Missions. Both are now PhD students. They also are great parents.

 

George and Mary Ogalo family, AIU alumni

“Mr. George Odhiambo Ogalo (pictured with his family) has been appointed as the next National Director of FOCUS Kenya with effect from 1st December 2014 for an initial period of five (5) years.

(From the FOCUS facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/focus.enya )

 

“The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has a new Deputy General Secretary.  Dr. Nelson Makanda Ndonga was today appointed  by the NCCK’s Executive Committee meeting held at Limuru to succeed Oliver Kisaka who formally retires next month.

 

AIU alumni leading NCCK

General Secretary Reverend Canon Peter Karanja, the incoming Deputy General Secretary Nelson Makanda and his predecessor Mr. Oliver Kisaka [All of these are NEGST graduates]

Makanda has vast experience, and holds a PhD in Biblical studies from Africa International University, Masters of Biblical studies and a Bachelors of Education degree from Egerton university.”

(From the NCCK page through this link  http://www.ncck.org/newsite2/index.php/information/news/364-makanda-picked-to-succeed-kisaka)

From our ALS report: The Deputy General Secretary is the principal assistant to the General Secretary. His office facilitates the theological aspects of NCCK’s work, which includes promoting spiritual formation, cooperation among members, and unity of vision in NCCK’s work.  Key engagements by this office include curriculum development for theological training within the membership.

 

 

25 years of pastoring

Today was a huge celebration at our church, Nairobi Chapel. Though the Kenyan vice president attended, we did not. Here is why…

Children’s Pastor Beatrice Muriu, Nairobi Chapel

Senior Pastor Oscar Muriu, Nairobi Chapel

Nairobi Chapel service

25 years ago today, Pastor Oscar and Bea Muriu went with a few families to Nairobi Chapel Undenominational Church, which had dwindled to 20 people. God has done amazing things since. 2,500 now attend this church, but 15,000 attend in the almost 70 churches birthed from the original. I (Steve) serve on the mission task force of Nairobi Chapel which advises on the 17 churches planted this year in various countries and the social justice ministries blessing the poor.

 

 

Our family moved to the newest church plant in Ngong Hills which started a month ago. 40 of us attended today. Jan and the twins minister to the children. I host new visitors. Hannah began doing evangelistic outreach even before the church launch.

Like Pastor Oscar, I started pastoring almost exactly 25 years ago. 20 years ago, we moved to Tanzania to teach pastors. We also pastored many missionaries.

Now we mostly pastor at NEGST-AIU. Teaching missionaries and pastors here includes lots of listening, praying, and advising. This week I will be preaching in chapel about prayer, leading prayer the next day, and planning next semester’s chapels.

The international students gave a very heartfelt thank you to Jan in chapel for her pastoring them the past four years. During those years their number tripled to 170. She has resigned as international student coordinator to focus on PhD research and teaching. (The picture below was after that chapel).

International students after their AIU chapel service

 

 

 

Pastor Oscar and Bea and most of the pastoral staff at Nairobi Chapel studied at NEGST-AIU. Most of the leading churches and Christian organizations around Kenya are led by our graduates. Our graduates also teach, pastor, and lead in significant ways in most countries across Africa… and beyond.  Some also serve cross-culturally to the un-evangelized almost unnoticed.

We do not pastor or teach classes of thousands at NEGST-AIU, but our graduates bless hundreds of thousands. We trust that God will continue to multiply the seeds that we sow.

Thanks for sowing with us.

Greetings and news from Hannah – Aug. 2014

Dear friends and family,

Thank you so much for your support these last few years. Thank you for calling me, feeding me, letting me stay at your house, sending me cards, doing fun things together and praying for me. Your welcome has made me feel at home during my time in college. I did a research paper about missionary kids and realized again just how rich I am in friendship and how much of my success I owe to you all, and your prayers.

I’d love your continued prayers for my next step. After applying for many jobs, an unexpected opportunity fell into my lap. My new supervisor was praying for help with the Africa Study Bible and happened to connect with my dad. He offered me a one-year Editorial Assistant position in Nairobi. I’ll be moving in mid-August and will live with my family. I’m very excited about this chance to use the writing, cultural analysis and ministry skills I’ve developed at Mac! It was a total God-thing.

I’d love to hear more about how you all are doing. Now that I’ve graduated, the best ways to keep in touch are through email or at my new writing projects website (including a poem about my job decision process): hannahras.wordpress.com

Or Facebook / Skype / visit!

Love,

Hannah

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!

Update from Hannah who is moving to Nairobi

Thank you so much for your support these last few years. I owe so much of my success to your prayers.

God answered your prayers for my Macalester education! I wanted to “go out with a bang,” but God exceeded my expectations. I graduated with highest honors and degrees in English and Sociology.

Hannah’s Macalester graduation with Justin and Mom

 

 

Some of you may remember how at InterVarsity Leadership Institute I discovered the Christian values Macalester was founded on. I realized that my perspective as a Christian was a vital reminder to the rest of campus about their purpose. This year for the first time, Macalester gave out awards to people who live out the founder’s mission. I felt so honored to receive one (pictured below with Justin, friends, and the mentors who nominated me).

Hannah receives the Neill award at Macalester

In my January update I mentioned that we were looking for a new chaplain. Justin (on the left) and I got to interview the new chaplain, and she is perfect for Macalester – praise God!

 

 

In addition to the chaplain’s transition, you can continue to pray for Macalester Christian Fellowship – for a new leadership team taking over from the graduated seniors, and for evangelism efforts to bear fruit. Justin will be leading a Bible study in the spring, in the dorm where he will be a Resident Assistant. But first, he’s studying psychology in Scotland in the fall. He’d love your prayers for all his community-building opportunities.

Your prayers for my future paid off! After applying for many jobs, an unexpected opportunity fell into my lap. My new supervisor was praying for help with the Africa Study Bible and happened to connect with my dad. He offered me a one-year Editorial Assistant position in Nairobi. I’ll be leaving August 19th and will live with my family. I’m very excited about this chance to use the writing, cultural analysis and ministry skills I’ve developed at Mac! God’s plans were different than mine – but perfect.

I’d love your continued prayers for this transition:

- For moving: finishing a writing project, getting a visa to stay in Kenya, smooth flights
- For work: wisdom and humility as I bridge the needs of the African contributors and the US-based publishers
- For friendships: many high school friends have moved away, and I’m worried about navigating the public transport system

If you’d like to keep in touch with me personally (other than prayer!), look me up on facebook or follow me on my new writing projects site (including a poem about my job decision process): hannahras.wordpress.com

Love,

Hannah

Sharing about TEAM at Duluth VBS

Sharing at Duluth VBS

Fun to share with every grade yesterday about Training East African Ministers! These kids are giving offerings to train Tanzanian ministers. The amazing VBS and children’s ministry at Duluth Gospel Tabernacle is run by a great team led by missionary kid (Rebecca Haapanen). It shows. How many VBS have a missions session every day where the kids pray for missionaries.? Kathy Bloomdahl led our session and had files of all of our old emails and pictures that she has used to stimulate prayer. We have been so blessed this summer to meet people who pray for us every day and know what is happening. How encouraging!! who knew that people read our emails?

Rasmussen Christmas greetings – Dec. 2013

Rasmussen family Christmas 2013

As the 2013 winds down, we are also SO thankful for supporters like you who allow us to train Africa’s mission and church leaders from the grassroots to PhD level.  We are also SO thankful for those contributing or giving scholarships so that our four children have received great education this year at Rosslyn Academy and Macalester College.

Hannah and Justin arrived from Minnesota this week!  Rachel and Isaac finished their finals. Fun to be together!

We send you wishes for a wonderful celebration of Christ’s birth and a Blessed and Blessing 2014.