One of My Heroes, a Voice for Street Kids in the Philippines and Throughout the World—Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson was born and raised in Cloquet, Minnesota, near the western tip of Lake Superior. His father, Jerry, was a World War II Army veteran who had served in the Philippines. He was a construction worker who established his own excavating business. His mother, Sylvia, a tough but gentle Finnish woman, served as a nurse in the Navy in San Diego. When the two were married, she worked as a nurse in an emergency room on an Indian Reservation.

As a youth, his parents taught Jeff to live with integrity and to work hard. His extensive involvement in sports helped prepare him for teamwork and leadership. He came to faith in Christ in 1973 through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) while a freshman in university. During his college years, he was actively involved with CCC. He graduated in 1977 in Criminal Justice Studies and Sociology and planned to be a police officer but God had other plans.

After college, God led Jeff to work at Midwest Challenge (MWC) in Minneapolis for six years in an evangelical discipleship program for drug addicts, prostitutes, prisoners and the homeless. He handled all kinds of ministries such as street outreach, jail and prison visitation, counseling, cooking and cleaning restrooms. Eventually he became the program’s director.

While serving at MWC, Jeff met Mary Ann Hartzell. She was raised in Minneapolis in a home where her parents led her to the Lord at a young age and were instrumental in directing her toward missions. When she was in high school, she knew God was calling her to serve as a missionary. After taking secretarial courses in college, she worked in the office and was a live-in counselor at MWC. Mary Ann left in September 1978 to serve for nine months with Sudan Interior Missions (SIM) as a secretary in Maradi, Niger, West Africa. During the time Mary Ann was in Africa, Jeff knew the Lord was calling him to commit his life to serving as a missionary wherever in the world God would send him. In December 1979, a few months after Mary Ann’s return, they were married, and son Amos was born in 1981.

During the early years of their marriage, they searched for a mission agency that would allow them to do the same type of ministry as MWC but in a foreign country. Every door they knocked on was closed because it was not a common form of missionary work. Finally, they heard a message given by then- International Director of Action International Ministries, Doug Nichols. Within four months, the Andersons joined ACTION in order to serve in Manila, Philippines, among street children and their families, prostitutes, prisoners and the poor. Soon after they were accepted, their daughter Micah Ann was born.

The Andersons arrived in Manila in December 1985 and have served there to the present with ACTION. Amos is has his doctorate and Micah Ann earned a Master’s degree. She was also a Sergeant with the 34th Aviation Brigade of the Minnesota Army National Guard and is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom having served two tours of duty.

Jeff was ordained in 1993 and has served as ACTION Philippine Director and leader of ministries to street children and their families and the disaster relief and development ministry. He also has formerly been the Associate International Director of ACTION. Mary Ann served as his assistant. They are members of Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and serve at Greenhills Church Fellowship of Manila. Jeff has authored or edited numerous publications and papers, including Restoring Children of the Streets: A Guide for Mobilizing and Equipping God’s People Around the World. Jeff serves on the steering committee and Mary Ann is a member of the 180° Alliance: United Global Action with Street Children strategy group for ministering to street children around the world in cooperation with Viva Network.

Jeff and Mary Ann are committed to raising the awareness of churches, both in the Philippines and around the world, to the needs of street children and their families; assisting local churches in developing and sustaining programs to minister to them by equipping churches with materials, training and personnel; and networking committed churches and agencies into a stronger, more effective team for ministry. One such project involves camps throughout the year, where local churches and agencies to minister to street children away from the environment of the streets.

Over the years I have worked with Jeff in many difficult situations on the streets of Manila at all hours of the night, in slums, in prisons, in storms, fires and floods. He has always been faithful to Christ in ministering the gospel and compassionate care to all, especially the poor, street and underprivileged children. My prayer is that God will raise up more servants like Jeff and Mary Ann to serve the poor with the gospel for His glory!