January 31, 2007
Nairobi (Kenya), SVM News, 31 January, 2007: Two US women aid workers were shot dead in Nairobi in Kenya were the retired Presbyterian Church missionaries of Pannsylvania (USA), known to thousands of Africans as “Mama Lois” Anderson, 79, and her 52 year old daughter Zelda White. They were murdered by carjackers on Saturday, the 27 January in a village just a few miles outside the capital city of Nairobi. On the same day Geoffrey Chege, the CARE International for East and Central Africa also shot dead in a most upscale suburbs of Nairobi during another carjacking attempt. Mrs. Anderson was a native of Beaver and both were graduates of Geneva College. Her husband and Zelda’s father, Rev. William Anderson, who also was in the car, survived the attack, along with two other people. Rev. Anderson is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a onetime minister in Beaver. Zelda White was in Seminary in Kenya, whose husband Mr Craig White is a US embassy official – was an English teacher in the US before coming to Kenya. She was a student at St Paul’s United Theological College in Limuru, where only last December, she completed her studies for a Bachelor of Divinity after four years of study. She had two children in college and one in high school. She felt she could go back to school and wanted to become a minister to extend her family’s legacy. Lois and Bill Anderson had traveled to the east Africa nation from their South Carolina home for a family gathering. They were driving down Waiyaki Way, enjoying the Kenyan countryside as they had always done for years when carjackers blocked their way. Those in the back seat escaped, including Mr. Anderson, but shot the two women dead at the scene. According to an e-mail from their daughter Sylvia, a witness, the Andersons, their two daughters and Sylvia’s teenage son were in a U.S. Embassy vehicle near Nairobi, waiting on the roadside for a friend. A car pulled up and gunmen jumped out firing AK-47s. The e-mail concludes with a biblical paraphrase: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; they rest from their labors.” According to the police, the suspected killers of the US women, who were travelling in a car with diplomatic license plates, allegedly shot dead by police later. On Saturday around 20 km west of Nairobi, these two US women were stopped by carjackers bearing rifles. “At least one woman was shot because she took too long to leave the car. Five people were travelling in the vehicle, which was then towed to the US embassy”, Police authorities said to the SVM News Service. “The Andersons served as PC (USA) missionaries for more than four decades in Sudan and Kenya. They are known across east Africa for their decades of service to the church, especially in the area of theological education,” Doug Welch, the PC (USA)’s area coordinator for Africa.said. The Andersons were popular speakers at the annual New Wilmington Mission Conference at Westminster College. “Everybody loved them – Lois particularly because she had such an outgoing personality, overflowing with joy,” said the Rev. Donald Dawson, director of both the New Wilmington conference and the World Mission Initiative at the Pittsburgh seminary. They are a storied missionary family. Mr. Anderson was born in Egypt to missionary parents. He and his four siblings all became missionaries and many of their children and grandchildren have done likewise, Mr. Dawson added. After graduation from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1950, Mr. Anderson became an associate pastor at Park Presbyterian Church in Beaver, where he met Lois Crawford. They married in 1951 and spent their honeymoon studying Arabic at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Norman, Okla. Mr. Anderson trained African pastors – including 40 who became Anglican bishops – while Mrs. Anderson reached out to families. They were in Southern Sudan from 1952 to 1959, when foreign missionaries were expelled. They worked in Uganda from 1959 to 1962 and Kenya from 1962 to 1973. Then, in what they called “a miracle,” a new government of Sudan allowed them to return. They resumed work in the Christian South, but in 1984 civil war forced them to move north to the capital of Khartoum, where reports of the Presbyterian Church (USA) indicate a Christian revival despite an increasingly radical Islamist government. They helped to found a seminary, Nile Theological College, in Khartoum. Both women will be buried Friday at St. Paul Seminary at Limuru, near Nairobi, where Mr. Anderson taught from 1959 to 1971 and where Mrs. White was a student. Salem Voice Ministries, which is doing charitable and Gospel services in Africa, Asia and Middle East, strongly condemns the murder of Mama Lois Anderson, Zelda White and CARE leader Geoffrey Chege.