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The Rev. Robert I. “Bob” Rasmussen, a mission co-worker in Malawi from January 1986 until his retirement in August 1992, passed away at his home in Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 25, at age 90. After he retired, Rasmussen and his wife Edith returned to Malawi many times, sometimes for months at a time, to train pastors and to preach and teach.
At the end of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, 16 Presbyterian pastors had been killed, many had been wounded and some had fled the country. The churches that remained were empty.
Niger has consistently ranked at the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. Indicators that
reflect that ranking include the following:
• Only 40 percent of men and 20 percent of women are literate.
• There is one doctor for every 50,000 people.
• One in seven women dies in childbirth.
• 40 percent of children under age five are malnourished.
• 20 percent of children die before their fifth birthday.
• Up to 90 percent of the population is involved in subsistence agriculture.
Together, we are among the largest Presbyterian faculties in the world. Our teachers instruct and preach in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic. Most teach aspiring pastors, but there’s also a robust commitment to congregational leadership formation and lay discipleship.
I felt trepidation as I entered the auditorium at the Indonesian Islamic University (UII) in Yogyakarta. More than 500 students filled every seat and many sat on the floor. The women sat on the left and the men on the right. I knew I was not the main attraction. A radical Muslim cleric, who had been in and out of jail, was one of the speakers. Some of his students had been suicide bombers in Bali.