My friend died today. I felt it in the morning as I opened my eyes and
heard birds sing in the mango tree.
“Bob’s left this world.” I
brushed off the feeling and began the day by readying kids for school and
preparing for ministry. About mid-morning, with Kenya’s bustling street noise in
the background, I read the confirming news on my email… Bob was gone.
Bob’s true friendship
came hidden in gruff abruptness. Albeit we first meet under polite exchanges of
pleasantries, the relationship would not stay surface only. I don’t think
anything long lasting with Bob could ever exist only on the surface.
We sat on
the church missions committee together, along with some of Bob’s peers. This is
where we saw his passion for justice, for doing right things the right way. His
arguments about effective strategies and detailed budgets challenged the more
merciful in the group, but only for the better.
As it came our time to plan serving in overseas missions, we did a
daring thing. We asked Bob for advice. Seeking council from Bob was not for the
faint of heart, nor the easily offended.
Our first meeting forced us to consider 26 questions about viability,
sustainability, finances and perspective. Bob left no stone of criticism
unturned. I don’t know if it was our
refusal to be defeated or our desire to have qualified oversight that made Bob
stay along side us like a trainer, a coach, a mentor…
morning meetings at our house exchanging friendly banter over warm tapioca, and
the day we visited a financial advisor - Bob took him to task about helping us
earn money to serve the poor. I recall Bob’s smug smile as we left the
advisor’s office with everything Bob wanted. He looked at us with a bright
twinkle in his eye and said, “Let’s go get ice cream.” For 2 years we met with
Bob. He listened to us, corrected us, demanded from us, questioned us, informed
us, keep records, keep track, and keep us from making mistakes. Sometimes he
was like a bad-tasting medicine that made us get better. Through it all we
realized Bob believed in us. By smashing any dreamy idealism, he helped build
confidence we never even knew we were missing.
5 years now, we are serving on the mission field of Kisumu Kenya – assisting
victimized women and providing potable water in Jesus name. Bob never gave a dime personally to us but his
wisdom and generous donations aided 17 widowed mamas to run small businesses,
49 vulnerable children to stay in their families, 2 self-help groups to provide bible study and accountability,
numerous discipleship trainings facilitated throughout the area, and 6
different communities to have filtered water sources.
we’d say when he picked the phone to receive our long-distance calls seeking
even three weeks before his passing, counseled us about water treatment - still
watchful, still involved. Bob Bigelow, a
straight-shooting man, slight in stature but with an enormous heart. And
because of that, many around the world benefit from his legacy.
What might he say if given an opportunity to speak at his
own memorial service?
In true character, I think he’d give his opinion on advice
from King Solomon:
“What are the
realities of your problem? Ask questions.
Look at the
reality? Gather knowledge from
How do you apply your
knowledge to your reality? Use wisdom.
Put your wisdom to
work in your reality.
Let’s live as God
Thanks Bob. May the huge file on my
laptop filled with your notes, your comments, your explanations and your reports
always help us serve Jesus by making this world a better place.
Some of the Kenyan mamas that Bob's donations helped wrote letters to Bob's family and friends.The scanner wouldn't reproduce them well so they are typed below. Imagine these mamas, sitting under a thatched roof, writing thoughts about a man that lived far, far away, whom they never met, but his consistent thoughtfulness helped change their lives forever.
"To the family and friends of Bob, regret the demise of Baba Bob.
We are indeed very grateful for the blessings we received from him. We wouldn't
be where we are today if not for the gifts from him. Every one of us has been touched
by his kind donations to us. We have been blesses to know him though we have not
seen him, have felt his love and kindness. May Almighty God bless his family and
friends and rest his soul in peace.
To God be the Glory. Amen." From WOW - Woman of Worth Group.
"TO THE FAMILY OF BABA BOB. I AM ANNE AWINO OTIENO. I WOULD LIKE
TO SEND CONDOLENCES TO THE BEREAVED FAMILY OF BOB. THIS IS SO SAD
BUT IT IS THE WILL OF GOD TO TAKE AWAY HIS SOUL OF HIM WE REALLY
LOVED. LET US SEND HIM OFF WITH GOOD MOTIVE AND THE LORD HAND
HIM GREAT HONOR. AMEN."
"To the family and friends of Baba Bob. I am Mildred Atino in Kenya. I would like to
say pole sana for the family of Bob. He was good to us. Rest in peace Baba Bob."
"To the family of Bob. I am Jackie Akoth,, a widow in Kenya. I say pole sana about Baba Bob.
He stood with us and made us to stand. Rest in Peace Baba. Amen."
"I am Raiel Mbono in Kenya. Pole sana for Baba Bob. He was loved but
God loved him more. Rest in Peace. Shalom."
"TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF BABA BOB. I AM JOSEPHINE SIRENGO IN KENYA.
I AM SO SORRY TO KNOW OF BOB'S PASSING. BABA SHALL BE MISSED BUT ALL
THAT YOU DID WILL BE REMEMBERED IN MY HEART."
"With deep sorrow and much regret to hear about the demise of our beloved Bob.
Though we have not met him but felt and saw his kindness and big heart he had for
women empowerment. Being a beneficiary of his good work in Kenya I am here to say
may God rest his soul in peace." Carolyne Auma.
Many photos of the blessed mamas...
"...we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith
in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which
come from your confident hope of
what God has reserved for you in
heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first
truth of the Good News. This
same Good News that came to you is going out all over
the world. It is
bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your
the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s
wonderful grace." Col. 1