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Sad passing of Armagh man Bob who worked as missionary in Congo for over 40 years

Bob McAllister from Armagh
Photo: Bob McAllister/BBC

An Armagh man who undertook missionary work in the Congo for over 40 years has passed away.

Bob McAllister, for many years a resident at Patrick’s Fold, at Scotch Street in Armagh, died this morning (Wednesday).

He was aged in his 90s.

His house and funeral are strictly private, but Bob’s heartbroken family plan to hold a memorial service to their dear father when circumstances permit.

Mr McAllister was a familiar figure in Armagh, where he had many good friends. Despite requiring a walking aid, he remained very independent and loved nothing more than getting out and about to chat when he could.

He and his late wife Alma, had left the shores of Belfast Lough to live as missionaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo in their younger days.

Bob, upon his return to Northern Ireland and having settled in Armagh, continued to bear witness and was a regular visitor to churches to give his testimony.

He would recall stories of how playing cowboys and Indians saved his life, of how his late wife Alma was held at gunpoint as she delivered a rebel’s baby, and of how the couple raised their three children – William, David and Ruth – in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

Bob McAllister and his sons Bill and David in the Congo

Bob McAllister and his sons Bill and David in the Congo

In the summer of 2016, Bob shared these stories with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, at a royal garden party set in the grounds of Hillsborough Castle.

On his conversation with Kate, Bob said at the time: “I told her that I was out twice in the Congo in 2014 and that unfortunately the situation isn’t an awful lot different now compared to when we lived and worked there.

“Problems can arise at any moment.”

Bob and Alma’s son David followed in his parents’ footsteps when, after years of study in the UK, he began working in Congo, leading the aid and development operations on behalf of Tearfund, a Christian charity working in the world’s poorest places.

It was a role which made Bob immensely proud that their decades of work reaching out to those who needed it in the Congo was being continued.

To his sons, daughter and the entire family circle, we send our heartfelt sympathy at this time.

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