Bob and Marge Trenbeath

Retired Missionaries to the American Indian Field
By Andrew Morgan, Writing Intern
April 2011

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 17, 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.

Marge Crask was born on November 16, 1924, on a farm located between Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky. She became a believer when she was 12, and early on, she had a desire to serve as a missionary.

“In my earlier years, and especially after my conversion, I had been impressed with the need of foreign lands and the privilege of telling others about Christ,” Marge wrote in her missionary application to WGM at the age of 26.

Marge finished school and went on to work in an office in Louisville. While there, she lived with the Young Women’s Christian Association and further contemplated God’s purpose for her life. On September 7, 1944, she fully dedicated her life to Christ.

Meanwhile, Bob’s life was taking a similar course. Although he was facing the prospect of being drafted into service during World War II, Bob pursued 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 40 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 17 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 retired from missionary service with WGM over 20 years ago, the couple continues to serve wherever they can. Church activities and an expanding family keep the Trenbeaths busy. The couple resides in a retirement home located in Glendale, Arizona.

From the farmlands of America to the fields of Kenya to the Mojave Desert, Bob and Marge Trenbeath have served together in an amazing journey of God’s will, and their story is not finished.

“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.”