Obituary for Doris Irene Jacobson
Doris was born the third of seven children to Amy and James Bouck in Carstairs, Alberta. Although her parents were upstanding people, they came to transforming faith in Jesus Christ when Doris was a young child. When, as a toddler, Doris became gravely ill, the doctor told her parents she had only hours to live. In response, her parents cried out to God, promising if He healed their baby, they would serve him as best they knew how and dedicate this child to His service. God miraculously restored Doris to health and her parents began their quest for God. It was shortly after, through listening to Christian radio programs, that they came to understand God’s way of salvation and gave their lives to Him.
In a testimony Doris gave in 1949 for broadcast on a Christian radio program, she recalled some of the changes in the home that resulted from her parents’ transformed lives: regular prayer, family devotions, and Scripture memorization. With her mother’s help, she memorized hundreds of verses to earn the privilege of going to Bible camp. Church and God’s Word became central to the Bouck family.
Early in life, Doris sensed the call of God to foreign mission service. Thanks to her parent’s sacrificial generosity, she was able to receive a Christian education, graduating from Prairie High School, then Prairie Bible School’s four-year program.
When she applied to the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), she was initially designated to go to Nigeria. This designation was unexpectedly changed at the last minute and she was sent to Aden, Arabia (now Yemen). There she found Ralph C T Jacobson, a former classmate, waiting. They were engaged in Aden and married in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 19 August 1950.
Of their 15 years in Ethiopia most was invested in teaching God’s Word in the rural, mountainous province of Kambatta, 200 miles south of Addis Ababa—a full day’s journey over muddy trails and rickety bridges. There, they helped establish the first public schools, promoted literacy, offered health care, nurtured the developing churches and established theological education. When they arrived, the community was dominated by the worship of evil spirits and servitude to the local witchdoctors. Women were considered of less value than cattle and treated accordingly; there was no formal education, no literacy; the slave trade was active; and life expectancy was short. Today, in that same area, lives have been transformed; the majority of people would call themselves Christians, churches flourish, health care is available, women have new dignity, most children are in school, and many young people go on to university and then serve in professions in Ethiopia and around the world. More than 30 PhDs and MDs— including women—have come from the small rural school they helped establish. Hundreds of churches in the Kambatta area continue to proclaim new life in Christ.
The hardest thing Doris ever did was to leave her children in Addis at the missionary boarding school each term while she and Ralph returned to their ministry down country.
Ralph & Doris returned to Calgary in 1965, where Ralph continued to promote mission work in Africa. In the late 1970s, they moved to the Vancouver area where they were again deeply involved in ministry and church life.
Doris was predeceased by Ralph (7 August 2016), her parents, a brother, Vernon, two sisters, Florence and Gladys, and many friends. She leaves her four children—Laura (Verdon) Toews, Tim (Lorna) Jacobson, Marilyn Jacobson and Ken (Joanne) Jacobson; 10 grandchildren—Chris (Heather) Toews, Tim (Rebecca) Toews, Terrilyn (Jeff) Adams, and Heather (Elias) Omer Jacobson, Bethany (Jason) Jacobson, Nathan (Allison) Jacobson, and Kendra, Matthew, Ethan and Aleah Jacobson; and eight great-grandchildren—Bennett, Juliette, Caleb, Sophia, Scarlett, Isabella, Grant and Liam.
Doris will be remembered for her generous spirit, her energy and work ethic, her diverse capabilities, her servant heart and her deep love for her family and the people in her life. She was deeply loved and will be sadly missed. But we know she is now home with her Lord Jesus Christ.
You are invited to contribute to a project dear to Doris’ heart: Researching, documenting and preserving the history of the church in Kambatta, Ethiopia - which grew, by God's grace, from a handful of Christians in 1950 (when Doris and Ralph arrived) to more than half-a-million today. The resulting book will document the legacy of missionaries and local church leaders and is intended to encourage the Ethiopian church. For information on this project (SIM Project #509006), see: www.sim.ca/projects/KambattaChurchGrowthBook.