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‘A saint has gone home to heaven’

Rev. William Anderson, a longtime mission co-worker in Africa, dies in South Carolina

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Bill Anderson and his wife Lois, as photographed about 25 years ago. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE ­—  Trinity Presbytery recently announced that Rev. William Anderson passed away peacefully on March 22 at the Clinton Presbyterian Community in Clinton, South Carolina. He and wife Lois, who preceded him in death, served as mission co-workers in Africa for 49 years (1951-2000), 37 of those years in Sudan and South Sudan. The couple also served for brief stints in Kenya and Uganda.

His friends and family say that “a saint has gone home to heaven.”

Bill Anderson co-founded the Nile Theological College (NTC) in Khartoum, served as its first dean of studies, and while teaching there, edited “Faith in Sudan,” a series of books chronicling the history of the Church in Sudan.

The Rev. Bill Anderson co-founded Nile Theological College. (Contributed photo)

Just as one country became two with South Sudan’s independence in 2011, Nile Theological College, offering both Arabic and English curriculum tracks, also split into two campuses in two countries the same year. The Arabic track stayed in the north at its founding location in Khartoum, Sudan, while the English track moved more than 400 miles south to Malakal, South Sudan.

His work to create NTC in the 1990s occurred during the country’s second civil war between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. There were human rights abuses against Christians in Northern Sudan. Nearly two million people died from war, famine and disease.

Tragedy struck the family on January 27, 2007, when Lois Anderson and her daughter, Zelda White, were shot in a village just a few miles outside of Nairobi, Kenya. White, who lived in Kenya with her husband, was working for the U.S. Embassy there. The Andersons had traveled to east Africa from their South Carolina home for a family gathering.

The couple was in a U.S. Embassy sport utility vehicle along with their daughters, Zelda White and Sylvia Anderson and White’s son, Alexander. They had stopped about 12 miles outside the Kenyan capital, awaiting the arrival of a friend, when four carjackers armed with assault rifles took advantage of the stopped vehicle and escaped with it. Those sitting in the back of the vehicle — William Anderson, Sylvia Anderson and Alexander White — escaped. Lois Anderson and her daughter, Zelda, died at the scene.

Bill Anderson was born in Egypt of missionary parents in 1926. He attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was called to his first church, Park Presbyterian Church in Beaver, Pennsylvania, in 1950. He met Beaver native Lois Crawford there and the two married in 1951.

They spent their honeymoon at language school preparing for mission service. Both were fluent in Arabic.

The Clinton Presbyterian Community will announce a memorial service at a later date.

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