Monday, March 22, 2010

Robert Allen Reed, 09 Aug 1954 - 20 Mar 2010

I can’t believe I have to write these words. It’s difficult to even get my fingers to move on the keyboard. My dear friends, “Yers Trooly,” Robert Allen Reed, passed away on Saturday, March 20, at 2:00 pm GMT, of a pulmonary embolism. He came home from Nigeria on Thursday evening, feeling great. He had so enjoyed the workshops that he had facilitated there, with Christians and Muslims, talking about one of his favorite topics: peace building and conflict resolution. It felt like such a key time for him to be there with the recent conflicts. This past year had been a little dry for him, with being in the US, moving and getting set up in Ghana, not really having any connections in Ghana. This trip to Nigeria seemed to breathe new life into him. I was thrilled to see him so animated.

As you may remember, he had been battling a staph infection on and off since September. Privately, we called this his “year of pain” as it seemed to be one thing after another for him – infections, bulging discs, malaria, bursitis, etc. While the staph infection had given him a break in Nigeria, for some reason as soon as he came back to Ghana it exploded again, and Friday evening I counted seventeen painful sores on his head. But he repeated to me that he wasn’t angry about being sick again – he was embracing this year of pain as something from God, learning what he can from it. Saturday morning he informed me that he was feeling very uncomfortable – his head felt like it was on fire and it hurt for him to breathe deeply. Fearing that the staph infection had moved into his lungs, we decided to go to a clinic. But it was very difficult for Bob to get out of bed – he was not getting oxygen and kept saying he would pass out if he got up. We finally got him in the car but on the way his speech started slurring and his lips turned blue. We rushed to the hospital instead. Once there, they got him on oxygen, did some lab tests confirming staph, and concluded that it was staph pneumonia, even though he had no fever nor did his lungs sound congested. They started him on antibiotics; about an hour later he started complaining of severe chest pain and started fighting to breath. The doctor again listed to his chest and suddenly heard what he thought could be a pulmonary embolism. They immediately gave a shot to dissolve the clot, but about thirty minutes later, Bob passed away.

Hannah and Noah were brought to the hospital by a friend, where we all were able to spend some time crying and saying goodbye. One of the Reed family traditions is that when anyone goes on a trip, we all gather around that person, lay hands on them and pray – we had just done that two weeks earlier when Bob left for Nigeria. At Bob’s bedside, Noah said, “This is just another journey that Dad has gone on. We’ll see him again.” So we laid hands on him and prayed.

We know that he was received into the loving arms of his Savior with a loud exclamation of, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” We know that he is having the time of his life exploring heaven, meeting many saints, asking many questions of people who have gone before him, and probably getting into many debates. But we also know that his time here was too short. There was parenting still to do, partnering still to do, and ministry still to do – all of it in a way that could only be done by Bob Reed.

Why did this happen? I don’t know and can’t afford to go there right now, except to acknowledge that I trust my Father in heaven – who loves me and my children more than Bob did. And He loves the people of Liberia, the people of Nigeria, the people of Madison Square Church, our neighbors from Prospect Street….so we have to trust that even though Satan may have meant this for evil, God will use it for good. Whether we see that or not, I don’t know.

To those of you who have been faithfully reading his blog, I’m sorry for your loss as well. He loved you and doing the blog was a very important part of every week for him. Thank you for your faithfulness in reading and encouraging him through this forum.

Memorial Service celebrating Bob’s life will be Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 7:00 pm, at Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, MI.


kate said...

Renita, Hannah, and Noah -- I'm so, so sorry for your loss. And for the world's loss. Your dad/husband was a gift to me, and to so many others. What a funny, smart, and incredibly gifted person. He will be so missed. My family will be praying for you.

Phil de Haan said...


I am very sorry for your loss. I knew Bob during his time at Calvin, but also as fellow fathers when my daughter Gina and your son Noah played t-ball together. Must have been eight or so years ago. Since then your life has been an adventure, an interesting series of new destinations as you follow God's call for your lives. I will pray now for peace and a sense for you of God's presence as you celebrate Bob's new life in Christ and your life together here on this earth. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings,

Phil de Haan

Rebecca said...

Renita- I am so shocked and so heartbroken to read of Bob's death. We are so sorry for this tremendous loss. My husband and I have followed your blog from Liberia and you have been in our sidebar links for sometime. We will be praying for supernatural peace to surround you, Hannah and Noah.

Justin said...

Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified. For the Lord your GOD is with you. And now Bob is chillin by his side. We love you Reeds.

Justin and Nana.

Anonymous said...

I am saddened by this news. I share your grief and pain. I am a Liberian and I have followed this blog since your arrival in my country. I was hoping to read Bob adventure in Jos, Nigeria. I pray that God may strengthen you and your family in this difficult time.

May his soul and the soul of all the faithful departed rest in perfect peace.

Crystal Gray said...

I have followed your blog since the beginning, have 2 boys adopted from Liberia, have been con-sidering working with the Ngendas..
and am so sad to hear of your loss.

I pray for you - Renita, Hannah and Noah- to have God's peace at this painful time. Yer's Truely will be greatly missed... and I look forward to meeting him in heaven.

Blessings and Love
Crystal Gray

Kristen V said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Kelley Wilson said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you Hannah and Noah. May you feel the loving arms of our Father wrap around you as move through this journey.

Grieving with you,
Kelley & Jonathan Wilson

InterVarsity@Ferris said...


I am so sorry for your loss. You and Bob were some of the first people I interacted with as I became more involved in Madison. That interaction contributed to my current direction with InterVarsity at Ferris. You guided me with Madison deaconal duties. Bob helped me when I decided to leave seminary. It was a blow to my spiritual life, and Bob helped me to understand what had happened during that time. A great man, with a great impact on my life. I can assure you that he is having a spectacular time now!! Thank you, Jesus for Renita and Bob Reed!

David Banta

Evan Koons said...

Renita, Hannah, and Noah - Words can't express how my heart breaks for you all. I am so sorry for your loss.

Your father/husband had such a profound impact on my life. I am so blessed for the short amount of time he and I spent together. His wisdom, grace, humor, and tenacity, changed my life. He was a gift from God.

I can't imagine what you're going through. You are all in my prayers. May Jesus surround you with his presence.


Oihoma said...

Your Madison Family reflected on Psalm 13 at the evening service yesterday. We lamented the loss of your husband. I pray for comfort for you, Hannah, and Noah as you grieve your loss. You have a High Priest who identifies with your hurt. And He Grieves with you.
John Eigege

Unknown said...


I am so sorry to hear about your loss; what a shock. I'll be praying for you in the days and weeks to come. A quote from someone else who lost their spouse: "Sometimes I don't understand the ways of God; but if I did, he wouldn't be God."

May God surround you with his grace and love.

Gary Mulder

Lorraine said...

Oh Renita . . . this is a beautiful tribute . . . but I, too, wish you didn't have to be writing it.

You and Bob have been heroes to me(even though I know he would balk at that word!) and this is so far beyond my understanding that I just want to write words and words and more words to try to grasp it . . . but I know that it is time for me to, as Bob might have said, "shut up".

So I am shutting up, and I am praying.

Our hearts are breaking along with you, Hannah and Noah. May God continue to make His presence very real to you in the dark days ahead.


Amanda said...

I am so sorry for your loss! I worked with Bob years ago while a student at Calvin, what a wonderful man. He always had a smile and that great laugh, you will be in my prayers as you being this new journey without Bob.

Quawu said...

Renita, Hannah and Noah, words are very inadequate to express my shock at this sad news…it is just unbelievable. I am deeply sadden and sorry for your lost. Your family blog has become a part of my weekly reading from the onset of your journey to Liberia.

I am still in deep shock and just can’t belief the news.

However, I express my condolence to the three of you and pray the Good Lord’s blessing and comfort for you especially, during this time of grieving.

Joseph Harris

Unknown said...

Renita, I am sending you warm big hugs from South Texas. Will keep you and the the family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

You'll all be in our thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks to come. I used to work with Bob in Student Life a long time ago. May God hold the three of you in the palm of His hand.


Sandy said...

As sister to Bob, I feel your loss, shock and some of your pain. Bob was such a wonderful person and will truely be missed by so many.Words can't express the sorrow and sadness.May you find peace with The Lord

Jonathan and Jane Bruin said...

Dear Renita,
So sorry for this great loss. It was heartbreaking and touching to read Noah's wise words of his father's passing as another journey. We are sending our love and prayers to you. So so sorry.

Jane Bruin

Jonathan and Jane Bruin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Becky said...

You probably don't know me or remember me, but I was a student who lived in NVW on Calvin's Campus in 1995-97. We all loved Bob because he perpetuated our beloved "Bison Day". I attended Madison Square for about 3 years after graduation, before moving away from GR, and saw the challenges Bob was facing with his employer because he believed so much in supporting the local community there at Madison and Hall. He was a man who had fun and had heart. He will be truly missed, even by us far-flung Children of the Bison.
- Becky [VanBruggen] Bertram

Anonymous said...

Dear Renita, Hannah and Noah,
I've just heard of your great loss and want to let you know that I'm holding you up in prayer. May God grant you peace, comfort, strength and the wisdom you need at this time.

God bless you.
Evy in Mali

Marianne Bailey said...

As a trusty follower of this blog I want to thank you Renita for doing the difficult job of sharing the shocking news of Bob's passing. I send my deepest condolences to you, Hannah and Noah with this jarring loss. I looked at all the photos again of him playing around with Trokon and Eastman, fighting for justice in humid classrooms and being with his family. May you continue to be lifted in prayer by the community of saints.

Beth Coetzee said...

Reed Family,
I learned of Bob's blog from a fellow adoptive parent when you were in Liberia and have followed it ever since. Renita, when I read your words I had a physical reaction in the pit of my stomach. Although I never posted, both of you have inspired and challenged me with the way you live your lives. I don't know any of you personally and yet feel like I do, because of the candid and thoughtful way Bob wrote of you all. These things I know, he loved you all completely, as he did our God and those Christ calls us to serve. I am praying for your family in the face of your great loss. May God's limitless love surround you and give you strength, comfort, and peace. So many around the world are holding you close. Bob will live on in the many hearts whom he touched in his too short time here on earth.
God be with you,
Beth Coetzee

Anonymous said...

Dear Renita, Hannah and Noah,
Holding you up in prayer. Can't imagine the pain of your loss. Thanking God with you that Bob is at home with Jesus but recognizing too the pain of separation, even if but for a time. May God give you the grace and strength to keep on keeping on and may you feel His arms of love wrapped tightly around you.
Brenda in Guinea

Anita Eleveld said...

So, so sorry for your loss. Words never really seem adequate enough. With this comment comes thoughts and prayers and a hug from across the computer lines. God bless you all.

Amanda Elo said...

Renita, Hannah, Noah - I am so very sorry for your loss. Your husband and father was an inspiration to many of us. You'll be in our prayers even more so now. I am glad and thankful that Bob gets to be with his Lord - they'll have a lot to talk about!

Amanda E., a faithful reader since the beginning of the Liberia days

Anonymous said...

Renita, Hannah, and Noah- I know that you are reeling from the pain of losing Bob as so many of us are. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Bob I have been so influenced by his wisdom and his thought provoking writings. His writings revealed a compassionate, wise, open, funny and humble man of God. We are so very sorry for your loss as you three journey on without your husband and father. He will be so missed by so many. May God's peace and wisdom be multiplied unto you.
Jay & Linda Pringle

Anonymous said...

Renita, Hannah and Noah,
We are sorry for your loss. It is our prayer that you will be surrounded by our loving Father who will hold you in the palm of his hand and fill you with a peace that passes all understanding.
Allen, Carol, Zach and Noah Schenk

Kelly James Clark said...

I am so shocked and sorry to hear of Bob's death. I admired him mostly from afar during his time at Calvin. At the end of his time at Calvin, I got to know him well as his 'case' was considered by the entire faculty. As I got to know him personally, I admired him even more. A very good man has left the world. No doubt to a better place. But our world now has a big gap to fill. Please accept my deepest sympathies.

David Hoekema said...

What a shock, what a loss--and what a beautiful tribute to a man who followed the Lord around the globe! I was eagerly anticipating spending time with Bob in Accra next fall when I bring my third group of Calvin students there. Renita, our prayers are with you as you struggle with why Bob, why now, why so suddenly -- questions to which there may be no answers. But we know who has welcomed Bob to his everlasting fellowship, and we know he will not give us who remain here without the comfort of his Spirit.
--David and Susan Hoekema (from Calvin, but now in Nairobi)

Mom of 4 Boys! said...

Renita, Hannah and Noah,

We are so very sorry for your loss. We will continue praying for you, that you will feel God holding you in His comfort.

Jason and Esther Heerema

Berber & Winston Bosch said...

Dearest Renita, Hannah and Noah - how we hurt for you. What a loss Bob is to all of us - he was such a wonderful man full of joy. We praise God for having known him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
With deep love Berber for the Bosch clan.

Peter M. Harkema said...

Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Bob. I am sure he was greeted with joy by Jesus. I have not connectd much with him since our years together working at Calvin. He was a valued colleague who provided wisdom and that oh so important touch of humor. I have followed your family journey with admiration and respect. May God grant you His peace.
Peter M. Harkema

Anonymous said...

Renita, so sorry to hear of your and your children's loss.
We are praying for you all. May our heavenly father surround you with his loving arms of comfort. This is also a gret loss to those lives Bob touched in hismission work in
Africa. I only met you once at the 2009 PW mtg in GR. Was impressed with your zeal for the work of PW in W Africa. God Bless you in this difficult time.
Deo Pax,
Peter Schaafsma

Betsy said...

Renita, "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches you." I feel the tremendous loss with you and the kids. But know your strength will come from the Lord as it always has. You have been such a great example of laying your life down for the sake of the kingdom. May you continue to "Fly the Flag" even in the midst of your grief. I love you, will pray for you, and look forward to rejoicing in heaven with all the saints who have been touched by the Reeds. In His time, Betsy Dekker Hansen

Anonymous said...

I have always been thankful to Bob for his very wise words of counseling when I was a troubled student at Calvin College 13 years ago. Thanks, Bob.

Anonymous said...

To see the picture of Bob with his open, happy, generous smile makes me cry to know he is gone. I am sorry for your loss. May the Lord give you his peace.
Sue Kooyer

Chris Schoon said...

We are weeping with your family, Renita. May God surround you with grace, sustain you in shalom, and embrace you with his tenderness. Your family is deeply loved--even if from a distance.
Chris & Hennie Schoon

Anonymous said...

Words are inadequate from me at this sad time. I belong to the Madison Square family, and know your family. I still am in disbelief.

I will continue to pray and hold your family up in prayer for a very long, long time.

God carved you on the Palm of His Hand and He will continue to hold Renita, Noah and Hannah there forever.

Love in Him,

Marti B.
Grand Rapids, MI

Jim Clavier said...

We are so sorry for your great loss. I had only seen Bob a few times in the last 40 years the last at Brenda's service. I hate the fact that I only see my cousins at funerals anymore. My memories of Bob are from childhood as I lived with Aunt Lucille for two years. Bob was always such a gregarious kid. And though I didn't see him much I think he kind of remained that gregarious kid. Bob you have earned your reward go find your mansion.
1 Thessalonians 4:14
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Jim & Carol Clavier
Ann Arbor, MI

Anonymous said...

Dear Reed Family,
I am one of the faithful readers of your blog. I followed it because I'm interested in Liberia. I've never met you, but through the blog I learned of the love and kindness that you shared as a family and with the people you encountered in Liberia, Grand Rapids, and Ghana. I learned a lot about what it means to answer God's call. I hope that God guides and protects during this difficult time.

Robert L said...

Hello my name is Bob Shuck and I know Bob from our Moody Bible Institute days when he was the RA on 14th Floor Culby hall. A friend from those days wrote to me that Bob has gone home to be with our Lord. May our Lord hold you all in his lovely arms!

Unknown said...

Our prayers are with you, and I love your joy and trust in the Father, who is the only one who knows "why" at this time. We mourn with you, and rejoice with Bob.

mindbodymaths said...

Dear Renita, Hannah & Noah

I give thanks for Bob's life, and all he shared, even with people like me, far far away through his blog.
I am grateful that you ventured out together and that he could embrace this work across continents, across cultures; giving and sharing so much.

This loss is huge, and a tremendous shock; all four of you are in my prayers.

Elizabeth in South Africa

therecordlounge said...

I was a kid in the neighborhood that grew up with Bryan and the others on Bogart St. in Lansing , Michigan. The only girl that hung out with all the boys. I will always remember Bob as just the coolest guy, he had a way with people that just exuded love and friendship no matter who you were.My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. I am sure the Lord will have Bob as his right hand man through all eternity.
God Bless,
Heather Frarey ( Wiley)