In the late 40’s, a young mother learned that she was expecting her third child, while she was desperately trying to nurture two small boys. Her second son had contracted tetanus at 18 months of age, but that diagnosis was “missed,” resulting in his condition digressing to the point that, in the hospital, he stopped breathing and was pronounced “dead.” (CPR was not part of medical practice in that era). After six minutes without oxygen, he had spontaneously started breathing again. The prognosis given her by the hospital staff was that her second son would now likely spend his life in a “vegetative state.” Overwhelmed at the prospects of having another baby to feed and care for, the young mother petitioned her obstetrician for assistance in arranging an abortion for her. The good doctor denied her request but assured her that he would provide free medical care, assistance with food and clothing and other necessities for her through this difficult time. Six months into this third pregnancy, without forewarning, she spontaneously started hemorrhaging, and while on the OR table, during the efforts to save her life, the baby made an early entrance into the world, weighing in at one pound, fifteen ounces! By God’s grace the little one lived (even before neonatal hospital units were in existence!) , and that miracle baby boy grew up in Flint, Michigan where, in time, he would meet and eventually marry another Flint native, Martha Cook, and Steve and Martha Anderson, in 1979 were appointed as missionaries to Togo, West Africa where they would serve three terms following an initial deputation period of about two years and a 10-month stint in Quebec, Canada, learning the French language.
The Andersons, before following their Lord’s leadership to return to the states in order to guide their three children through their later teen and early college/adulthood years, were involved in the planting of three indigenous Baptist Churches (independent) in Togo, leaving those churches with their own Togolese pastors when they returned back to the states.
When Steve and Martha arrived in Togo in 1982 their children, Rebecca, Sarah and Ben were 8, 6 and 4 years of age. When they answered God’s directive to return to the states in 1991, Steve would in time be called as the Music and Discipleship pastor of their sending church, Faith Baptist Church in Davison, Michigan. Both he and Martha would also teach in the Christian Day School of Faith Baptist Church.
It was in 1997 that the Andersons joined the missions family of Baptist World Mission (Decatur, AL, Dr. Bud Steadman, Executive Director) as Furlough Replacement Church Planters. Steve is now also BWM’s Field Administrator for the African continent, and European and Middle East countries. As Field Administrator, Steve, with his helpmeet, Martha, gives loving and wise counsel, watch care and encouragement to 25 missionary couples and one single lady. This ministry also provides for the sending churches and supporting churches of these missionaries an avenue of accountability, protecting both the churches and the missionaries. The Andersons have demonstrated an unwavering love for and interest in the lives and ministries of each of these 51 missionaries. Then, as Furlough Replacement Church Planters Steve and Martha have been used by the Lord for twenty-one furlough coverages in Quebec (3x), Ontario (2x), Uruguay, Scotland, British Colombia, New Zealand (5x), Italy, South Korea, South Africa (4x) and Kenya (2x). Steve is also a registered nurse by training and assisted in medical missions when in Togo and also serves now with Baptist World Mission as its Medical Officer.
This writer has known and has served with the Andersons for almost 25 years since their joining the ministry of Baptist World Mission. First hand, I have witnessed their charity, wisdom, patience, kindness and Christ likeness that is both authentic and infectious. They exude the Joy of the Lord and have, without doubt, been adopted by not a few missionaries as “role models.”
Martha accepted the Lord as her personal Savior with her mother at her bedside at the age of five. Steve, as a nine-year-old boy, convicted of his sin, responded to an invitation in a Wednesday night service, putting his faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.
So, that blessed mother, weighed down with the cares of life–and the prospect of her second son being severely handicapped, was tempted to abort a third baby when she learned of his presence in her womb. She had, of course, no idea at that time of all the care that her second son might entail (events over which she would have little or no control), but she now was expecting yet another baby. And, this third baby boy started out life by coming way “too soon,” weighing barely enough to register on the scales. But that baby boy would live…and live to be a man… and a man of God, an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ to many nations, a husband of now almost 50 years and a father of three and grandfather of five, and brother of a once dimly diagnosed baby who at best was thought to be destined to live in a vegetative state if he survived but who retired eventually after 35 years in the postal service, all to the praise of His glory! Who knew? Who could have known? Only our great God! What God hath wrought! One life. One missionary couple. One missionary that almost wasn’t!
“Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things He hath done for you.” (I Sam. 12:24–Steve and Martha’s life verse)
(The Andersons have made their home in Huntsville, Alabama, since 2006, and attend Calvary Baptist Church in Huntsville which is their home church)