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  • MBHC: Profiles: Abram H. Unruh
    the church choir In 1900 Tina as he called her became his wife During the years that Abram taught in the Crimea he took courses in Simferopol and Perekop and attended teachers conventions to improve his teaching skills He began to read widely in theological and devotional literature After eight years of teaching in Menlertschik he accepted an invitation to teach at a post secondary school in Barwenkowo in the Ukraine Here the Unruhs experienced the death of their two year old daughter Elizabeth and later they lost their four year old son Cornelius These tragic events only brought the Unruhs closer to God When World War I broke out Unruh entered the Russian Red Cross Instead of serving on hospital trains he was asked to serve in an office in Odessa After the war the country sank into anarchy and when anti German sentiments increased the Unruhs decided to return to the Crimea where Abram become principal of the school in Karassan By now Unruh was known as a gifted expositor of the scriptures and was ordained to the ministry In Tschongraw Johann Wiens a returned missionary from India had established a Bible school and asked Unruh to join the faculty Students from all over Russia attended this training school Unfortunately after six years the Soviets closed the school Because of the political and economic turmoil in Russia the Unruhs decided to leave the country With four sons and two daughters they arrived in Canada in 1925 settling in Winkler Manitoba By the end of the year Unruh began his Bible teaching ministry with 13 students This was the beginning of the Winkler Bible School Eventually all of the Tschongraw faculty members arrived in Canada and joined Unruh in this venture of faith Unruh was principal of this school for 19 years A great many pastors and missionaries received training in the Winkler Bible School In 1944 the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference established a Bible college in Winnipeg and Unruh at age 67 was asked to be its first president The Mennonite Brethren Bible College was to have a profound influence on the churches of the Mennonite Brethren Conference Many pastors missionaries Bible teachers musicians and other church workers were trained at the college Unruh was refreshingly human He had his weaknesses and apologized quickly when he sensed that he had offended someone People were impressed with his great gifts his deep devotion to God and also with his delightful sense of humor To this day former students still quote some of his profound and witty sayings In the field of theology Unruh was largely a self taught man He never attended seminary but he read widely all his life and was amazingly balanced in the great truths of the Christian faith Bethel College Kansas paid tribute to his gifts and his ministry by bestowing an honorary doctorate of divinity on him Unruh was tall and rather corpulent and with his neatly trimmed beard and mustache he cut a

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/unruh.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Anna Kröker
    much Lebensweisheit general wisdom during her lifetime and God gave her a special measure of spiritual wisdom She also possessed an extraordinary talent for story telling In 1939 she married Abraham Kröker a widower with nine children When he proposed he asked for the assurance that she would be the parent to his children when the GPU took him away She promised and later attempted to do just that They were together only three years when Abraham and many other men were arrested never to return Anna had borne Abraham two more sons The older died in infancy the younger never got to know his father Anna was left to provide for her large family The day came when she did not have enough food for them In addition she faced having to share with a starving neighbour and her children To stretch the little flour she had left she picked up six sugar beets from puddles in the roadway where they had been left to rot It was her undoing The administration endeavouring to get rid of her because she spoke up for justice accused her of stealing from the commune Six beets earned her that many years of labour camp She like Job lost everything The night before she was deported she lay in her cell and cried to God for her children especially her young son who would not recognize her six years later God in His mercy revealed himself in a bright light and a statement Anna I love your children more than you do This God experience remained with her all of her life During the hard years in labour camps she held onto God s promise that God would look after her children although she had no guarantee that she would survive and see

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/kroker.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Rondo Horton
    feeding ducks chickens and pigs working in the garden handling the horses cleaning the schoolhouse and building a dam for a baptismal pool In time he realized his need of a savior accepted Christ and was baptized becoming a member of the KMB church at Boone North Carolina P H Siemens recognized a teachable spirit in young Horton and invested himself in Horton s spiritual education This close mentoring relationship resulted in such comments as Rondo was very like Siemens In the absence of the Siemenses Rondo Horton served as moderator of the North Carolina churches from 1934 to 1938 and regularly sent in reports of the work to the Wahrheitsfreund During this time two new stations were established Cove Creek and West End the first Sunday school conventions were held and Rondo was invited to participate at the KMB conference sessions held in Carpenter SD in 1935 preaching three messages and providing special music His servant spirit was evident in his report to the conference at that time We are thankful to the Lord and to the Conference that we have had the chance to work in this mission that the Conference counted us worthy for this place and trusted it to our hands The conference delegates received Rondo s messages and reports with much joy and enthusiasm Rondo organized the first youth camp for the North Carolina churches with a program of Bible study singing and recreation in 1945 This camp continued operation first at Darby and later at Ferguson for fifty years Rondo Horton took over the full administration of the North Carolina district in the mid 1950s when the Siemenses left As moderator or district superintendent Horton made decisions regarding the pastorate of each congregation following the system established by P H Siemens He reassigned the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/horton.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Jacob and Anna Dick
    they were about to enter a town they were stopped by inspectors who asked them for traveling documents Jacob responded without hesitation Who in the world would be able to live without a document in Russia Would you His bold assertion led the official to wave them on without further questioning After six days they reached Djarkent There Dick was able to secure a job as a clerk in the government bakery But it was also here that they experience a tragic blowBtheir little son died of measles and pneumonia Dick had to dig the grave to bury his son and they were alone for the burial Thereafter they met some Christians with whom they were able to enjoy fellowship in secret In spring they decided to proceed and seek to cross the Chinese border but because of the size of the group they encountered difficulties and had to return at the end of the first day and they returned to their jobs to alleviate suspicion Several nights later on April 10 1933 they set out again During the day they hid in sand holes in the desert Water was scarce and at times they spotted border police but managed to remain hidden The children were kept quiet by giving them doses of opium On the fourth night in the desert just before setting out again a group of Mohammedans suddenly appeared But fears were allayed when they offered to help the Mennonites cross the border A small river formed the border They managed to cross the river although some slipped and fell but nevertheless managed to reach the opposite shore At night the party proceeded again The Mohammedans negotiated with the Chinese border police but soon they discovered that they had been sold to the police who threatened to kill them For eight days they were moved from prison to prison and dispossessed of many of their belongings Finally they were forced to head back to Russia Within sight of the border they decided to refuse to walk further protesting that they would be killed if they returned The Chinese police finally relented and abandoned the group leaving them to their own resources The group now split into smaller parties and the Dick family set out for Kuldja about 60 miles into China At times they crawled through mud the women often held to the horses tails for support as they proceeded in the darkness of night and sought shelter during the day Miraculously they encountered some Christians in a small town who helped them secure the necessary documents entitling them to stay in China They procured a wagon and traveled the rest of the distance to Kuldja Kuldja was a large city of over 300 000 citizens who were mostly Moslem Many other refugees had also found their way there and disease was rampant The Dycks also fell ill with malaria but recovered after a month The city was very difficult to access from the rest of the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/dick.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Heinrich Voth
    opportunities to share the gospel in homes schools or churches always with the hope of leading people to a clear sense of forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ Such itinerant ministry was a key to the growth of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia and in America Voth first began his itinerant evangelism in Manitoba in the village of Hoffnungsfeld on the edge of what is now Winkler This community and the nearby village of Schanzenfeld were the seedbed for considerable dissension among the mostly conservative Mennonites who had come to Manitoba and the changes that flowed from there affected several groups Here people were singing new songs engaging in Bible studies and prayer meetings and many of them supported a higher level of education than was true for the more conservative Mennonites This created tensions that foreshadowed the crisis that eventually led thousands from these groups to abandon Canada in the 1920s for Mexico and Paraguay Voth s message of the joy of salvation and release from sin and guilt struck a nerve He was welcomed by Johann Warkentin who was a teacher in Hoffnungsfeld when Voth first visited the village Some years later Warkentin became a much loved leader of the Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church Voth s accounts of the meetings in Manitoba convey both the positive response his ministry generated and the tension it sometimes created Voth was threatened physically by some of those who opposed his message In one village he was refused shelter even though it was mid winter So he burrowed into a haystack and spent the night praying as he tried to stay warm and get some rest At another meeting two community councilors decided they would seize Voth and send him home Their plan was foiled when they were forced

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/voth.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Peter C. Hiebert
    him an invaluable asset during the time when his denomination was in linguistic transition Because of his love for church music he was elected chair of the hymnal committee that produced the 1953 Mennonite Brethren hymnal For over twenty years he served with the Southern District s Board of Home Missions It was his commitment to combine word and deed however that particularly motivated Hiebert to fulfill a long tenure with the Mennonite Brethren Relief Committee later called the Board of General Welfare and Public Relations At a time when social activism was deemed by some to be a hindrance to evangelism Hiebert worked diligently to sensitize the social conscience of Mennonite Brethren At heart Hiebert was a teacher His studies at McPherson College in Kansas convinced him that a liberal arts education was important With fellow student Henry Lohrenz the two aspiring leaders pledged to establish a post secondary training institution for Mennonite Brethren young people When Tabor College opened on 30 September 1908 Lohrenz was appointed president and Hiebert his assistant Hiebert s long contribution to Tabor is perhaps best illustrated in his willingness to accept the presidency during some of the difficult formative years when financial pressures threatened the very existence of the school For many Peter C Hiebert was synonymous with the Mennonite Central Committee When MCC was organized on 20 September 1920 Hiebert was elected as the chairman a responsibility that he discharged with consummate skill and integrity for the next thirty three years His inner vision for service in the name of Christ was most acutely crystallized on a factfinding mission to Ukraine 1922 where the sheer magnitude of the disaster deeply moved him In response MCC set up kitchens that fed forty thousand people daily With the approach of World War II Hiebert

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/hiebert.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Amanda Dohner
    his wife Justina Amanda realized a common faith I learned that my redeemer was also their redeemer Amanda especially appreciated their convictions regarding plain dress and the use of tobacco She made herself at home among these Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Soon Amanda won the complete confidence of the Gnadenau community who even invited her to teach their children English in the Gnadenau school Amanda had an overwhelming compassion for anyone who was alone distressed disconnected abandoned or injured Four years after her arrival in Kansas in 1882 Amanda had a spiritual encounter a vision of children being cared for and trained She accepted this vision as a divine call to gather together and care for children As a single woman however Amanda felt powerless to act on this vision In this time of waiting she did what she could she began sewing bed linens enough for a family of children Eventually Amanda united with Tobias Martin from the River Brethren of Pennsylvania who already had a longtime vision of ministry to orphaned children and who furnished some initial funds for an orphan asylum at Gnadenau In March 1889 the orphan s home at Gnadenau was founded two and a half miles southeast of Hillsboro with Amanda Dohner as its first matron The first orphans arrived in November 1889 seven children from Chicago Illinois By August 1890 eighteen children Germans Mennonites and Yankees had been received at the orphan s home The orphanage was officially chartered by the state of Kansas on September 15 1890 as The Industrial School and Hygienic Home for Friendless Persons Association During this time Amanda joined the fellowship of the Gnadenau Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church According to the membership register Amanda claimed two orphans as her family David Merrs and Della Beker Amanda Dohner as Waisenmutter

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/dohner.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Adolf Reimer
    devote himself totally to mission work among the Russians At first he was financially supported by a society but opposition by government authorities resulted in a withdrawal of most of that support In 1910 he became one of three teachers for the St Petersburg Bible School which ministered to many Russians and Mennonites before it was finally closed by the government in 1929 During World War I Adolf registered for alternative service because of his firm conviction that Christians should love their fellow human beings and not kill them whatever the cause He witnessed to the wounded soldiers and often conducted evangelistic services in the villages where he was stationed even when his superiors objected During the period of anarchy following the Revolution Reimer continued his efforts to win people to Christ no matter which side of the conflict they were on When one of the Mennonite churches struggled with how to react to the Reds who were inflicting such suffering Reimer stood up and asserted Brothers the Reds also have a soul which longs for salvation and we must preach the gospel to them Such an open proclamation of the gospel was done at great risk One evening Reimer and his associates decided to conduct a service while a commander of an anarchist unit was present in the community They also invited the officer referred to as the executioner and his men The officer came and warned that a bloodbath was about to occur But despite the imminent danger a choir came forward and sang gospel songs to soften the hearts of their enemies Then Reimer got up and stated Today we are not conducting a business meeting or a political meeting today we are gathered in the name of Jesus about whom the choir has just sung He

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