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Bill Tarr

Former Missionary to Kenya, Hungary, Ukraine, and Texas/Mexico Border Ministries
"Following God around the World"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2013

When Bill Tarr committed to follow Christ while he was stationed in Cyprus with the US Navy, he meant it. When God placed the call of missions on his heart, he went. He followed that call from Kenya to Hungary to Ukraine to the Texas/Mexico border.

Bill was raised in a non-Christian home, but his grandparents encouraged him to attend Sunday School. After high school, he joined the Navy. Before his service started, he went hiking in the Sierra Nevada. He would later look back on that time as when he began to understand his need for God.

After returning to the US as a new believer, he became involved in the base chapel’s youth ministry. He felt the need for more education and went on to complete his BA in Christian education at Asbury University, followed by his MA in biblical literature at Asbury Seminary. He had found his calling: teaching truths of the Bible, theology, and the message of holiness and entire sanctification.

Bill and Betsy met at Asbury and were married in 1980, and Bill took a position as the director of Christian education at a church in Ocala, Florida. While at a camp meeting in Georgia, they were both called to missions.

They were appointed as missionaries to Kenya by World Gospel Mission in 1982. While in Kenya, Bill served as a teacher and dean at Kenya Highlands Bible College, now Kenya Highlands Evangelical University. He spent hours preparing for classes, wanting to communicate truths to help his students in their walk with God and give them practical tools they could use in their ministries.

In 1991, when the Soviet Bloc fell, Bill and Betsy were asked to help start WGM’s work in Hungary. Bill served as the field coordinator, conducted English classes, and led an English Bible study. They then went to Ukraine, where they were heavily involved with Kyiv Wesley Bible College. Bill was involved in leadership and teaching at the school, which trained young Ukrainians to share the gospel with their own people. Bill and Betsy also enjoyed mentoring students outside of class.

In 2010, Bill and Betsy again followed the call of God; this time, it was to Taylor Christian School in McAllen, Texas. Although this was an entirely different educational outreach for him, Bill enjoyed his ministry as lab facilitator, interim director, and teacher.

Bill enjoyed learning languages, a skill that was first developed when he learned Israeli Hebrew and Russian in the military. He later studied Swahili, Hungarian, and Russian again while living in Europe. After they went to McAllen, Bill worked on learning Spanish.

Bill had a servant’s heart, once saying that he wanted to serve until he was 70 years old. Although we are thankful that Bill is in the presence of Jesus today – free from all illness and pain – we still mourn the loss of a beloved husband, brother, and friend. Bill’s friends and family all over the world can rejoice that Bill is with the One he has faithfully served for so many years. Matthew 25:23 testifies of his life, “’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

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