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Henry, Robert (1933- )
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28 June 1933-
Robert Henry was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on 28 June 1933. He is a graduate of St. Paul Bible College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he met his wife, Svea. In 1956 they commenced their missionary service in Viet Nam under the Christian and Missionary Alliance. They were blessed with three daughters. The eldest, Karen Lynne (now deceased), was born 15 months before they set sail from New York for their first term. Daughters Lynda Lee and Virginia Jewel, a Down's Syndrome child (now deceased), were both born in Dalat, Viet Nam. An informally adopted fourth daughter, Kien, a Chinese refugee from the tragic "killing fields" experience in Cambodia, was taken into their family in 1980.
Due to Virginia's special needs, the Henrys returned to North America where, for a short period, in order to support his family, Henry became a scientific linguist with the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State where he taught the Vietnamese language. Later he served as a language consultant to the Institute for Behavioural Research, then situated in Silver Springs, Maryland, where he engaged in the development of a new approach to language study. In 1963, Henry began pastoring the C&MA church in Washington, D.C. The Henrys returned to Dalat in 1966 after finding suitable care for Virginia in Ontario. While there, Henry founded and directed the Vietnamese Language School and began work on a six volume textbook series on the Vietnamese language, which was later published by the Summer Institute of Linguistics.
In 1968 the Henrys, along with over 30 missionary colleagues and their children, barely escaped with their lives in the infamous Tet Offensive. Most of their colleagues at Banmethuot, a nearby mission station, were either killed or kidnapped. Meanwhile, in Dalat, the Henrys and their language students, together with their small children, escaped Viet Cong encirclement only seconds before Viet Cong troops stormed into the buildings where they had been hiding.
At the end of that year the Henrys were appointed to Sydney, Australia, where Henry founded and directed the work of The Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia. While there he became a regularly invited speaker at several of the Australian Keswick conventions. After more than nine years of leadership in the Australian C&MA, and after a short stint as a national conference speaker and evangelist for the C&MA in North America, he was called to be the preaching pastor of Sevenoaks Alliance Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia. This rewarding but short appointment was interrupted in 1979, when he was elected Vice President/Church Ministries of the C&MA, which was then headquartered in Nyack, New York. In 1984 he and his family relocated to Vancouver, B.C. where he had taken a position as pastor of Tenth Avenue Alliance Church. The family then moved to England, where Henry assisted in the reorganization of the British Missionary Alliance. He also took a sabbatical at Regent's Park College, Oxford, where he conducted research on notable British preachers of the Victorian era that was later published as The Golden Age of Preaching: Men Who Moved the Masses, which was published in 2006.
Following this, he directed the work of World Relief Hong Kong among the Vietnamese boat people. In this capacity he regularly spent time in Viet Nam itself directing a program of relief and development on behalf of World Relief Corporation, U.S.A. He later became President of World Relief Canada. He eventually resigned from this position to spend a year preaching in colleges and universities on behalf of English Language Institute China in an effort to recruit Christian English teachers to teach in universities in China, Mongolia, Laos, Tibet, and Viet Nam. Now retired, the Henrys reside in Toronto, where Dr. Henry continues to preach, write, and consult.
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Revised 24 October 2019