We were sad to hear of the death of one of our former students, Fred Ratsimbazafy, who went on to teach at the Baptist Seminary in Madagascar.
Liz Rajo has provided a brief tribute.
Patrick Alfred Ratsimbazafy, known affectionately to many as Fred kely (‘little’ Fred) was born 17th June 1971. He spent his early years in a village, but later moved to live with Christian relatives in the town of Antsirabe so he could undertake his secondary education. It was here that he had contact with believers and the local Bible Baptist Church and through the life and witness of this fellowship he subsequently came to faith in Christ and was baptised.
I first met Fred when I arrived in Antsirabe in August 2000, at which point he was studying at the Baptist Seminary. He seemed quiet at first, but had a definite twinkle in his eye and loved to joke and laugh with his friends. Once he had completed his studies he Pastored a church in Arivonimamo, to the West of the capital Antananarivo. Pastors in Madagascar are rarely responsible for a single church and his role also included evangelism in surrounding villages and supporting smaller local church groups. Fred was a humble man and able to relate to people of differing circumstances, and as a result he was much loved and appreciated by those he served and taught.
In 2006 Fred was accepted to study at London Seminary where we were based at the time. Adjusting to life in the UK was not easy for him and studying at a deeper level in another language was particularly challenging, but Fred persevered and really benefitted from these studies. As a family we enjoyed having Fred in London and our children loved the extra attention that ‘Uncle’ Fred gave them. It was during his time at London Seminary that Fred was diagnosed with a heart valve problem and in the Lord’s goodness he was able to have surgery to replace this at the Royal Free Hospital.
Once back in Madagascar Fred was initially involved in Pastoral work again but was soon asked to help out as one of the regular teachers of the Bible Baptist Seminary. We saw his teaching abilities really develop during this time and he became increasingly respected as a preacher and teacher within the Bible Baptist church circles. He also continued to serve as an elder in the local church. Following Ravaka’s sudden and unexpected death in 2013, Fred stepped up to the role of acting director of the seminary and, apart from a 12 month interlude, he continued in this role until he went to be with the Lord on 24th September 2021. Alongside this he travelled to some of the other regions of Madagascar to help with training leaders of rural churches, some of whom have only had basic education. He served quietly and faithfully and never sought to draw attention to himself, but his understanding and ability to communicate to students from a variety of educational backgrounds was invaluable in this work. Fred will be sadly missed by those who had the privilege of knowing him personally and a great loss to the seminary. We praise God for his life and for the many whom he helped and encouraged and pray that the Lord will raise up other men who are willing to serve with that same Spirit of love and humility.