A Passion for People: Pastor Bruce and Marlene Anderson—November 2018
In the rainforests of Chile, there is a vine known as the Boquila—a climbing plant that can take on the characteristics of its surroundings. As stated in the Popular Science Magazine, “They can match the nearest leaves in terms of size, shape, color, and orientation, and even grow a spiny tip when they’re next to spine-tipped leaves.” In short, they are the chameleon of the plant world.
Pastor Bruce Anderson (OBBC ’66) and his wife, Marlene (Radloff, OBBC ’65), are much like the Boquila. It doesn’t matter where God leads them or plants them, or how diverse the culture is, they just adapt because of their love for people.
The Andersons have pastored everywhere from the aforementioned land of Chile, to farming communities, to the inner city of Los Angeles. They have ministered in affluent areas of San Jose, California, blue-collar Kansas City, and other Midwestern states like Oklahoma and Nebraska. Pastor Anderson grew up in Alaska and even spent time in the United States Air Force.
“We have found that people are people,” said Pastor Anderson. “They have the same need of a Savior, the same struggles in marriage and family, and the same Holy Spirit to help them change.”
When Pastor Anderson was in elementary school, his family moved from Missouri to Alaska, where they ran a dairy farm. His entire family was saved while attending a church in Homer, Alaska, which was run by Baptist Mid-Missions.
“Not long after that, I dedicated my life to serve the Lord wherever He would send me,” said Pastor Anderson. “Though I loved Alaska, I reasoned that if someone had given their life to bring the Gospel to my family, then I had a moral obligation to share that wonderful message with others.”
After his family came to know Christ, they moved to Omaha, Nebraska, so Pastor Anderson’s father could attend Omaha Baptist Bible College. His father began a church in Millard, Nebraska, and soon after, Pastor Anderson also enrolled at OBBC, where he met his wife, Marlene.
The Andersons married and graduated from OBBC in 1966, then joined with ABWE to become missionaries in Chile. They have four children who are now married and have given them 11 grandchildren.
Pastor Anderson believes their time in Chile and the Air Force helped mature him for the pastorate. After stops in various states around the country, the Andersons settled in at Olivet Baptist Church in Westwood, Kansas, where they have served for the past 27 years. The church has a K-12 school and a preschool where both he and Marlene serve. Pastor Anderson is currently the junior high science teacher and also volunteers to teach one course per semester at nearby Carver Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
“The Lord has taught me that ministry is His work and I can only help as He allows,” said Pastor Anderson. “He has taught me patience with people. We must learn to love others even when that love is not returned (2 Cor. 12:15). When we do, ministry is a delight and very rewarding.”