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Bob Trenbeath

Retired Missionary to the American Indian Field
"An Amazing Journey of God’s Will"
By Andrew Morgan, Writing Intern, Adapted by Jace Martin, Staff Writer, November 2022

Bob and Marge Trenbeath were both raised on rural farms during The Great Depression, tutored in the knowledge of agriculture and survival. Although they grew up hundreds of miles apart, they would eventually unite under God’s incredible plan of service through World Gospel Mission.

Bob was born on November 24, 1925, and raised just one mile south of the Canadian border in North Dakota. He was the second youngest of six boys, and they helped to run the family farm with their parents.

At age seventeen, Bob accepted Christ as his Savior. A preacher held out one quarter in his open palm and used the coin as a way to represent God’s eagerness for Bob to grasp and claim His Word. Bob took the coin, and the physical transaction paralleled the transformation that happened inside Bob’s heart. That day, Bob began a journey that would eventually lead him to WGM and to his future wife.

At the time, Bob was facing the prospect of being drafted into service during World War II; however, he continued to pursue a college degree at the Chicago Evangelistic Institute. During his senior year, Bob finally felt God’s distinct calling.

As he stood before a United States military draft board, Bob declared that he wanted to pursue a Christian education to enter missionary service and go wherever God led him. The board reviewed Bob’s plans and gave him full exemption from military service. Bob then applied to study at the National Holiness Missionary Society in Chicago, from which WGM eventually formed.

When Bob walked into the administration building for the first time, he laid eyes on his future wife, who was also here to prepare for missionary service.

“I basically walked in the front door and met my wife,” Bob said with a laugh.

Bob and Marge married during their studies with WGM on July 22, 1949. During this time, Bob and Marge felt a calling toward education. As the desire to teach grew, they hoped one day to do this as missionaries.

Bob and Marge moved to Greenville, Illinois, in 1951, where Bob trained as a teacher at Greenville College and prepared for WGM’s upcoming assignment. After Bob finished his education degree, they were appointed to WGM’s Kenya Field in 1952.

The Trenbeaths began their ministry in a tumultuous political climate as they flew into Kenya. However, they managed over forty schools during this time. Most of these schools were used dually as churches, where Bob would travel and supervise indigenous teachers who were trained in English. Marge cared for their four children at home, provided secretary duties, taught home economics, and performed a multitude of other tasks alongside Bob.

The couple spent five years in Kenya, until Bob needed to return to the States because of health reasons. After his recovery, they wished to return to Kenya, but political divisions had grown worse during their time away. Return was deemed too dangerous, so the Trenbeaths sought their next calling.

In 1961, Bob and Marge transferred to the Texas-Mexico border, where Bob served as principal for Taylor Institute, then a WGM-sponsored school for Spanish-speaking children. For the next seventeen years, Bob and Marge worked with other schools, including Southwest Indian School that served children from Native American tribes. Bob and Marge learned Spanish themselves, developing linguistic and cultural understandings needed for their ministry.

Bob and Marge continued their ministry at Southwest Indian School until their retirement in 1988. Although they had retired from missionary service with WGM, the couple continued to serve wherever they could. Church activities and an expanding family kept the Trenbeaths busy. After Marge's passing on October 27, 2022, Bob now resides in a retirement home located in Glendale, Arizona.

From the farmlands of America to the fields of Kenya to the Sonora Desert, Bob and Marge Trenbeath have served together in an amazing journey of God’s will.

“We’ve had many opportunities serving the church and other Christian capacities,” Bob said. “We’ll keep going as long as we have the physical and mental abilities to do so.”

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