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  • MBHC: Profiles: Ann Klassen Wiens
    Missions and was accepted for service in Paraguay at Yalve Sanga Chaco Her task was to use her training in the area of nursing and later to serve as a social worker among the women of the indigenous tribes jobs which she did faithfully for the next eighteen years with the exception of a brief assignment at Bethany College in Hepburn Saskatchewan During that year 1971 1972 she served in various roles including dean of women and campus nurse The timing of Ann s term of service in Paraguay likely caused her family some anxiety In 1958 just three years before Ann began her work a missionary named Kornelius Isaak had encountered a group of Ayoreo or Moro tribesmen This meeting proved to be fatal for Isaak who received a stab wound from a Moro spear and died the next day Despite the danger the missionaries still tried to make contact with the Ayoreo people One day Ann joined a group setting out with gifts to give the Ayoreo As the missionaries approached a group of Ayoreo tribesmen Ann s group began offering candy and other gifts When one of the Ayoreo leaders noticed Ann s necklace he indicated that he wanted it Ann managed to convey the idea that she would give him the necklace but only in exchange for the spear that he was carrying He agreed and Ann gave up her pearls to obtain a spear much like the one that had killed Kornelius Isaak only a few years before This encounter was probably one of the most dramatic events in Ann Klassen s missionary career She took the spear back to Canada with her and often used it to illustrate her stories about South America That spear is now at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Winnipeg Those who remember her life in Paraguay however say she was known especially for her deep connection to the people she was serving Ann loved to laugh a characteristic that endeared her to the indigenous peoples as well as the Mennonite settlers She became friends with many of the local people remembering them throughout her life and distributing most of her belongings to them before she died She had a strong concern for the indigenous women of the region and she was an advocate for projects that helped the whole family Throughout her time in Paraguay Ann exhibited an open and joyful spirit that the people around her found compelling Besides her friendliness Ann was known for her bravery and determination One Christmas when she was left alone at the mission station she rode thirty seven kilometers on her bicycle to go visit some missionaries She drove cars and trucks when they were available which few women in the Chaco did at the time and even fixed potholes When she wanted to bring electricity to Yalve Sanga she helped to raise the money herself Whenever something needed to be done she did it On September 28 1979 Ann

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/wiens-a.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Masaru Arita
    But when he encountered Mennonite Brethren missionary Ruth Wiens from Mountain Lake Minnesota he finally had an experience of conversion Reading a book entitled Looking for God he understood the wonderful love of God for the first time He accepted Jesus Christ as his savior and finally found peace recognizing that his sin was wiped away by Jesus After graduating from high school young Masaru studied English in the night school at Osaka City University Eventually he became an English teacher at St Andrews University in Osaka During this time he prayed about dedicating his life to church ministry In 1961 Masaru felt called to Christian ministry He left his teaching position and entered the small Osaka Biblical Seminary Even before his graduation he became the pastor of the Ishibashi Church He was a man of prayer always seeking Christ s love so that he might care for each member of the church even though this came at great sacrifice Masaru Arita not only had leadership responsibilities at the church and the seminary but his English language ability meant that he was put in charge of building relationships with the North American Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions and Services then known as BOMAS He exchanged many letters with BOMAS administrators one of whom was Jacob H Epp Amazingly while Masaru was still a seminary student he wrote a letter as the representative of the JMBC requesting financial support for the Japanese churches In addition to writing about economic matters concerning the JMBC Masaru also asked for pastoral and educational support from BOMAS to nurture young Japanese seminary students and pastors For example he wrote a letter to BOMAS saying We need spiritual and intellectual help We wish to have spiritual learned and experienced people of God in our seminary In

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/arita.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Bena and Emma Bartel
    Mission Society which had been started in China in 1905 by her uncle and aunt Henry C Bartel 1873 1965 and Nellie Schmidt 1876 1946 Bena s assignment was to teach the children of missionaries in China She stayed in China until 1923 when she returned to Kansas for a year of furlough Emma Bartel was born on August 12 1897 She felt called to become a nurse and trained at the Bethel Deaconess Hospital Training school in Newton Kansas When Bena returned to China in 1924 after her furlough it was decided that Emma would go with her as a companion In June and October of 1938 Bena wrote to Henry and Elizabeth Lohrenz in Hillsboro detailing the difficulties experienced in their area of China In the letter I found in the Hillsboro archives they wrote about cholera and malaria epidemics Bena also wrote of guerilla soldiers attacking the villages forcing people to give them food and money Travelers were also robbed losing their clothing and money to the attackers The threats were not only on the ground airplanes flew overhead on bombing raids Communication to and from their family and friends in the US was unreliable and even more so after December 8 1941 when the US declared war on Japan In December 1941 Bena and Emma were taken prisoner by the Japanese forces that invaded China They remained in house arrest for a year and a half In 1943 Emma wrote again to the Lohrenzes greeting them with Philippians 4 11 13 and 19 I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus Bena and Emma were restricted to homes chosen for them by the Japanese However this did not keep them from spreading the gospel of Jesus love Friends came to the house to enjoy fellowship and prayer Sometimes others including officers and guards stopped in to talk to the sisters While conditions were harsh Bena wrote in their 1943 Christmas letter God supplied our needs through our Chinese Christians and friends Both rich and poor were most sympathetic and loyal to us in our time of need Although they were persecuted they did not feel abandoned by God On March 17 1943 they were taken from their home to an internment camp where they were kept with other missionaries At the Fresno archives I discovered a 1943 Christmas letter from Bena and Emma describing their time in the internment camp Due to lack of nourishing food and other disagreeable things we lost weight strength and vitality But praise God we had religious freedom and enjoyed the sweet fellowship with missionaries and other dear children of God Finally after six months of confinement on September 15 1943 they and the other missionaries who had been in captivity with them were placed on the Japanese steamship Teia

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/bartel-be.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Mennonite conscientious objectors
    Mennonite Brethren church leader chose to register as a CO He said From the beginning to the end of his life Jesus grappled with the problem of force I can come to no other conclusions than that Jesus was the first Christian pacifist Canada and the United States have long histories reaching back to colonial days of making provisions for people who cannot take up arms on the basis of conscience Given this history Mennonites met to discuss a response to the escalating conflict Some believed the government should honor earlier promises and allow full exemption of all Mennonites from military service Others believed the historic peace churches should offer other non military service to their countries Delegations were sent to Ottawa and Washington At one of the meetings in 1940 a Canadian general and war veteran asked the Mennoniteled delegation What will you do if we shoot you Jacob H Janzen of Ontario who had survived several desperate situations in the Soviet Union replied You can t scare us like that I ve looked down too many rifle barrels in my time to be scared in that way This thing is in our blood for 400 years and you can t take it away from us like you d crack a piece of kindling over your knee I was before a firing squad twice We believe in this In the United States delegations made proposals to President Roosevelt in 1935 and again in 1940 which led to a bill that defined COs and established the Civilian Public Service CPS as an alternative to military service In both countries men opting for alternative service were individually assessed opening CO status to all citizens Most men appeared before a judge who decided on their commitment to non violence In Canada judges hearing CO cases varied in their opinion of COs Judges in Saskatchewan and Manitoba personally saw their duty as diverting as many men as possible from claiming CO status In the end almost 11 000 Canadians from 33 cultural backgrounds and almost 12 000 Americans from 231 religious denominations served as COs during WWII The choice to opt for CO status resulted in strained relationships In Alberta two Mennonite churches were burned to the ground on the same day in 1940 In Ontario a minister s house was searched by police and a church was ransacked In Oklahoma a house was egged and the church was used for target practice by a sniper Like a fugitive in society all propaganda radio press billboards pointed a finger at you why are you not in the army doing your duty When CO status was granted the young men served in various roles Some volunteered for medical experiments Others worked in the forestry service firefighting and tree planting On Vancouver Island COs planted 17 million trees In the medical corps they tended to the medical needs of military personnel COs served in hospitals and institutions for the mentally ill helping care for some

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/ww2co.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Dan Friesen
    weekends for two years until May 1941 At this time his home church the Corn Mennonite Brethren Church recognized Friesen s spiritual gifts and affirmed God s call on his life for ministry The church ordained him on November 23 1941 with local ministers Rev H H Flaming and Rev J J Wiebe officiating with the laying on of hands A pastor for the people Dan E Friesen served at least nine Mennonite Brethren congregations in Kansas Oklahoma Colorado and California before retiring in 1991 Brevity punctuality and humor were the earmarks of his ministry He cut to the chase and did not mince words People felt stirred encouraged convicted disturbed and challenged by his preaching and by his writing His poetry and newspaper columns were much appreciated especially his booklet End of the Struggle Hillsboro MB Publishing House 1966 At Sunday services attenders were confident that if Dan Friesen was preaching church would be over by twelve noon According to Dan If you can t say what you need to say in 20 minutes it didn t need to be said Besides No one listens after 20 minutes anyway Twenty minute Dan Friesen had no use for lateness Punctuality for him was a virtue He felt church services should be started on time and it did not matter if the church attenders were still outside visiting He took his hymnal in hand and began the singing of a favorite hymn such as No 99 At Calvary even though only 3 or 4 people were seated in the sanctuary To him all the parts of a worship service deserved attention and respect the singing the offering and the sermon If three people were sleeping during his sermon he made Schluss an ending and closed the service The next Sunday the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/friesen-d.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Elfrieda Dyck
    Paraguay She planned to do this every night for a week until everyone was off the ship The elderly the sick and mothers with newborns were sent on the first of the night flights Seeing that Elfrieda was succeeding in getting her people away the captain moved the ship from the port to the open harbour ostensibly to save docking fees while repairing the ship Undaunted Elfrieda arranged for a small launch to make multiple nighttime trips from the ship to the dock Children the elderly the weak all climbed down the emergency ladder in the dark with their meagre belongings down the outside of the ship while the launch rose and fell on the waves below The Charlton Monarch had sailed from Bremerhaven Germany on May 16 1948 The last of the refugees left the ship on July 10 Elfrieda Klassen Dyck was born in 1917 in Donskaja New Samara Russia the youngest of Franz and Justina Wiebe Klassen s fourteen children The family left Russia in 1925 and settled in Winnipeg Manitoba where Elfrieda graduated from nurses training in 1939 Orphaned by the age of sixteen Elfrieda looked to her older siblings for care and guidance One of them was C F Klassen the well known Mennonite Brethren leader who told her MCC needed nurses in wartime Europe Elfrieda decided there was a need that she could fill and boarded a ship for England It was 1942 and German U boats patrolled the Atlantic in wolf packs to sink and destroy Allied Ships In England Elfrieda met fellow Canadian MCC worker Peter Dyck Together they founded a convalescent home for poor boys from Liverpool and Manchester In the town of Whaley Bridge before an excited congregation of twenty convalescing boys dressed in matching MCC outfits Elfrieda Klassen married Peter Dyck in 1944 The Dycks moved to the Netherlands at war s end to distribute relief supplies There they saw the tip of the iceberg of the thousands of displaced Mennonites moving through Europe in a desperate bid to avoid repatriation to the Soviet Union MCC restationed Elfrieda and Peter in Berlin where Mennonites gathering in the American sector hoped to get past the Soviets to the west Peter worked with government and military leaders to move the people out while Elfrieda ran the refugee camp that eventually numbered over 1 200 people The hasty last minute evacuation of the Berlin group fell solely to Elfrieda as Peter was away when the go ahead came Within an hour and a half Elfrieda had all her people at the train station including a woman in labour who was collected from a Berlin hospital along the way This miraculous passage through Soviet territory has come to be known as the Berlin Escape Elfrieda and Peter escorted the refugees from Germany to a new start in Paraguay aboard the Volendam After this successful voyage C F asked Elfrieda to lead a second voyage on her own Once again Elfrieda recognized there was

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/dyck-e.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Abel P. Ballem
    rich man a scholar or a great saint Most of the priest s fortune cookie predictions did not come true God had a better invitation for this child On June 17 1999 when Rev Abel Ballem he was known as B P Abel went to be with the Lord in his 93rd year close to ten thousand people came to pay their respects including many non Christians As his funeral procession wound its way to the cemetery bystanders wondered if he was some important political leader People were told that he was just a priest in the local MB church a priest who had served his Lord faithfully who had lived a life of integrity respected by believers and unbelievers alike and who had preached the good news of Jesus Christ for over sixty years Abel received high school education and Bible school training under the tutelage of Daniel L Bergthold and John H Lohrenz early MB missionaries and Bible teachers at Nagarkurnool and Shamshabad While studying in Shamshabad Abel heard God s invitation to follow Jesus into the story of God s upside down kingdom Abel accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour and was baptized on April 18 1922 He subsequently read every book and commentary he could find and spent countless hours in the word of God The first half of the 1900s was a heady time for missions in India The British were still ruling India the country was poor illiteracy was high and caste discrimination of the Untouchables or Dalits was rampant Whatever the missionaries started succeeded whether schools or medical clinics churches or Bible schools Poor Untouchable villagers flocked to learn about this new message of salvation equality in God s sight and peace Abel and his wife Shanthamma were in the middle of all this They travelled from village to village preaching the message that Jesus saves and baptizing people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit The Lord blessed Abel s ministry During the thirty three years that he led the Hughestown MB Church in Hyderabad 1963 1996 there was peace in the church and the church grew Hundreds came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ The Hughestown Church became one of the largest congregations in the conference As the city expanded Abel became passionate about starting new churches in the city s outskirts Several are still active today Abel Ballem was not prominent by usual standards He was not a political leader Because he believed and understood early Anabaptism his sermons consistently reflected a theology of peace and a kingdom citizenship with Jesus Christ as King He wasn t a prominent leader in the denomination yet denominational leaders sought his quiet considered words of wisdom He wasn t an academic scholar yet his sermons were clear thoroughly biblical uncompromising challenging and fiery Pastor Abel Ballem was not rich materially The poor and mostly illiterate labourers from the Untouchable caste whom the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/ballem.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: David Johann Klassen
    in homes around Karaganda After Stalin s death in 1953 an amnesty was declared for some of those imprisoned as enemies of the state Quite spontaneously Mennonite survivors of the Gulag who had been scattered throughout the vast Soviet empire began to find one another Karaganda became one of their collecting places Despite government opposition a Mennonite Brethren church formed with 18 members in 1956 and grew to 900 members just two years later Services were held in homes around Karaganda In May 1957 David Klassen joined the group and was chosen its elder Now retired on a modest pension he drew on his earlier life experiences to give direction to the church He had already spent 16 years in two imprisonments his wife Sara had been imprisoned for 11 years Alongside him were others with similar backgrounds For most it meant reconstructing church life after a hiatus of 25 or more years Klassen played a key role in providing leadership to the groups throughout the city Preachers were ordained choirs started children instructed regular meetings put in place and leaders trained Not only did all this take place under the hostile scrutiny of local authorities but in Klassen s words even the registered Baptist Church treated these groups as stepchildren Alongside Klassen s ministry in Karaganda he visited many newly emerging Mennonite Brethren fellowships in Siberia Kazakhstan and other Turkic republics Klassen and two others were arrested a month apart in 1962 Heinrich Wiebe one of those arrested recognized Klassen s presence in prison when he heard him singing in German My contentment rests in my readiness to accept what I cannot change Wiebe sang in reply We shall meet on that beautiful shore Klassen was a musician singer and composer of hymns His second imprisonment resulted when he

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/klassen-d.en.html (2016-02-16)
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