Our Missionaries - The Frenchs
Rev. Robert A. French (Bob) earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tufts University in 1971. He completed a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1975 and was ordained at Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts in June, 1975. He served as Assistant Pastor of Bethany Bible Church in Gardner, Massachusetts in 1975-76. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Master of Arts in Linguistics in 1978. In 1980-82 he was a Bible translator with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) on Romblon Island, Philippines. In 1982-1988 he had several different roles with SIL. He married Koleen Matsuda in April, 1987.
Koleen M. French graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1979. She served from 1980-83 at the US Center For World Mission in Pasadena, California. In 1983 she went to the Philippines with World Team (formerly Regions Beyond Missionary Union) and served on Catanduanes Island from 1984-86 as a member of the first foreign missionary team there to establish the Virac Christian Bible Fellowship ("VCBF"). She graduated from the University of Texas, Arlington in 1988 with a Master of Arts in Linguistics, after which she and Bob returned to the Philippines.
Bob and Koleen have served together with World Team in the Philippines since 1988 in church planting and in leadership training. From 1991-1996, they served on Catanduanes Island. Bob trained six Filipino leaders from the Virac Christian Bible Fellowship. Of those 6 leaders, one now is the pastor of VCBF; one is a missionary to Viga, Northern Catanduanes, where he has established the Viga Bible Christian Church and is now starting a new work in Payo. Two others serve as elders in the Virac church.
In 1996, Bob and Koleen moved to Manila for one year. There they helped guide the Redeeming Grace Ministries Church in Makati, Manila towards becoming a cell church. However, they were advised to go to the USA in 1997 to address special education needs of their daughter, Lisa French (born 1991). During their 2-year extended furlough in the USA, Koleen received training to be able to home school Lisa with her special needs. The Frenches returned to the Philippines in 1999.
Since 1999, they have been serving in Naga City, about 160 miles east and south of Manila. In 1999-2001, Bob oversaw two rural churches in their transition to complete independence from missionary involvement, and also helped to coach Filipino teams planting churches with the Conservative Baptists.
Since January 2001, the Frenches have been helping to start the Naga Community In Christ ("NCIC"), a cell church, among the business and professional class in Naga City. They are working on various publications, such as hermeneutics booklets, conflict resolution materials, and cell leaders' Bible study guides, to be used by the wider evangelical community.
Bob and Koleen have three children: Lisa (16 yrs); Debbie (14) and Junia (10). Debbie and Junia were born in the Philippines. Koleen home schools Lisa and Junia, while Debbie is now attendung university in California.