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  • MBHC: Profiles: Anna Brons
    the one described in Psalms 139 and 145 and presented in the Mennonite congregation This God of her forbears was more immediate comforting and loving I understood and responded to this love in my heart Even though Anna grew up in a Mennonite home and attended a Mennonite congregation she did not learn about the history of the Anabaptists there It was through the books in her uncle s library especially Thieleman van Braght s Martyr s Mirror a collection of stories and pictures portraying the suffering and death of Anabaptists men and women that her interests in the Mennonite story were nurtured Reading the Dutch text with some difficulty Anna was deeply moved by the faith and perseverance of the sixteenth century Christians who would rather die than deny their Lord This rich spiritual heritage of the Mennonites inspired Anna later to write her history Her book was to help her people particularly the young among them to appreciate and by guided by their past Anna and Isaac Brons were married in 1830 They raised nine children and maintained a thriving business in Emden where they lived To this day the business remains in the hands of Brons descendants who still live in Emden Isaac Brons was politically active in the local community and was a delegate to the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848 Both Anna and Isaac worked passionately toward the unification of Germany and assumed that their political involvement was part of their active Christian faith Making positive contributions to the larger community and society was part of their Christian obligations The Brons were also deeply involved in the work of their congregation and community They served human needs in Emden and beyond wholeheartedly and sacrificially During a difficult winter they helped the unemployed They set up soup

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/brons.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Menno Simons
    doctrine of the mass came to Menno s attention One day as he was celebrating mass he began to doubt that the bread and wine were really being changed into the flesh and blood of Christ To find an answer to his doubts he read further in the writings of the reformers but found only a confusion of human opinions Like Luther he then turned to the Bible Finding no confirmation for the Church s teachings even there he concluded that the Church had misled him Around 1532 he heard that a certain Sicke Snyder had been executed for rebaptism actually for being baptized upon his confession of faith This seemed strange to him even though the Church itself spoke of entry into a monastery as a second baptism Once again he turned to the writings of the reformers then to the Bible but could find no satisfying justification for infant baptism Having come to rely more and more upon the Bible Menno studied it diligently so that by 1534 when the emissaries of Jan van Leiden appeared in his region he had studied it for some nine years People around Witmarsum called him an evangelical preacher because of his biblical expertise and he easily defeated the messengers from Muenster in public debates When his brother was misled by them he turned angrily on their leader All of the new theological insights Menno had achieved by 1535 had not motivated him to leave the Catholic Church He continued to perform its sacraments though he no longer believed in them Even when people around him his brother included were misled by the Muensterites all he did was talk debate attack But as he was writing the Blasphemy he stumbled on the opening verses of Matthew 7 with its story of the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/simons.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Mary J. Regier
    an elder in the Mennonite Brethren Church Nurtured in this spiritual atmosphere Mary accepted Christ as her Savior at the age of fourteen was baptized September 4 1898 and joined the Henderson Mennonite Brethren Church The following year her older brother John S Regier was ordained as a Mennonite Brethren evangelist and later as a minister Quiet and unassuming Mary took her studies at Tabor seriously She enrolled in English geometry botany ancient history civics expression music Bible and the life of Christ She watched the student body grow that first year from 39 to 103 Two years later Mary s brother Abraham enrolled at Tabor The following year her brother John was invited to be one of the five lecturers at Tabor College s first Bible conference held in 1911 Mary graduated from Tabor in 1912 Several years later the unspeakable happened Early on the morning of April 30 1918 the two story Tabor College building caught fire and within an hour the building was reduced to ashes Faculty staff students and townspeople however refused to be daunted by this tragedy They cried Tabor still lives The dream of a school built on a Christian foundation would not be destroyed But what could be done Tabor quickly began raising funds for construction of a new administration and classroom building Ten months after the fire a local German newspaper announced that a good friend who formerly attended Tabor College and who treasures the high worth of a Christian school has bequeathed the nice sum of 15 000 to Tabor College with the determination that a girls home be built with it Mary J Regier had donated her inheritance a 15 000 annuity on a farm in Henderson Who would have thought it possible to build two buildings out of the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/regier.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Loyal Bartel
    late 1920s They spent most of the next two decades teaching and caring for the students at a Bible School in Tsao Hsien later romanized as Caoxian Long before the 1960s Loyal and other members of the Bartel family encountered numerous difficulties in their efforts to witness to the Chinese people Famine war impoverishment and plagues are part of many missionary stories and so it was of the Bartel family World War II brought a special set of trying circumstances for many foreigners caught in the territory that came under Japanese occupation The occupying troops always feared that any foreigners were potential spies Many missionaries including Loyal were held under house arrest during parts of the war Loyal on several occasions faced stiff questioning by local Japanese commanders The difficulties faced prior to and during the war however paled with what was to come The conclusion of the Second World War saw the resumption of the civil war between the Nationalist and Communist factions It was increasingly unsafe for foreigners to remain in China particularly women and children Susan Bartel and the children Lenora Ruth Lois Esther and David left in 1948 hoping that it would be possible to return following the cessation of hostilities But with the victory of Communist faction and the establishment of the People s Republic of China virtually all foreigners were forced to leave All other Mennonite missionaries were gone by 1952 Loyal chose to remain as a Chinese citizen The years following were long and difficult ones for all parties Susan and the children first settled in Mountain Lake and after the girls completed high school she moved to Wheaton Illinois where they attended college Initially there was little communication between Loyal and the family Eventually some minimal communication was established Many times the

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/bartel.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Helena Wieler Martens
    written in 1922 tempers the rather strident portrait of Johann s achievement in the early Mennonite Brethren story His success as a teacher preacher and evangelist depended on her ability to provide a stable home amid frequent relocations and fiscal hardship There were visitors like Kornelius Unruh and Peter M Friesen who came in 1873 for weeks and months at a time It did not seem to matter that the birth of her first child was imminent All the while Johann sought to secure a livelihood by establishing private schools first in Friedensfeld 1874 then in Nikopol 1875 The four to six boarding students who lived with them were Helena s responsibility Meanwhile Helena experienced deep personal tragedy All four children born to her between 1873 and 1877 died As she expressed it they lay buried in a large grave on a little hill in Nikopol By 1879 Helena found herself in Halbstadt another Mennonite village in Ukraine where Johann taught pedagogy She tersely reports nineteen students had their meals with us thirteen of whom roomed with us Between 1880 and 1882 frequent visitors and frequent pregnancies continued to add to life s complexities One of the three daughters died in 1881 In 1883 Johann decided to become an itinerant minister for the Mennonite Brethren and the family moved to the nearby village of Tiege False charges brought by a Russian brother forced Johann to flee to Hamburg Germany in 1885 Helena wrote I went outside and the world seemed so dark as though it was enshrouded in fog Meanwhile a son Gerhard was born in 1885 but he died just after his first birthday Johann s attempt to return to Russia failed and again he was forced to flee this time to Berlin After burying little Gerhard Helena left

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/martens.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Mennonite missionaries in North Carolina
    They also claimed that the missionaries preached the wrong doctrine and told them you do not believe the Bible the way we do Siemens and Tschetter invited them to come and attend services at any time but the men responded that there is not enough room The ministers then invited a few to come at a time to see if they really did preach wrong doctrine After the encounter the two couples went home for the night comforting themselves with the words of Psalm 4 8 I will lay me down in peace and sleep for the Lord only maketh me dwell in safety In the morning there was a note under the front door which said that the two couples were to leave immediately Joseph and Katherine Tschetter were already preparing to return to Chicago their home community Peter and Katherine Siemens however had no plans to return to their home church the Zion KMB Church in Dinuba California They had just arrived to take over the mission The following day a man came to the house and asked what they would do if the Klan forcibly evicted them Peter replied If they send us on the train we ll be back on the next train but if you send us in coffins we cannot come back This encounter was not the first between the KMB missionaries and local members of the Klan In 1900 Henry and Elizabeth Wiebe of Lehigh Kansas were the first KMB missionaries to go to North Carolina They went to teach in two schools opened by Emily Prudden one for black children and one for white children She had sent out a call for Christian teachers to come and teach in the schools Peter V Wiebe a KMB missionary was working at the time

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/carolina.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Peter Braun
    General Conference of Mennonites meeting in Neuhalbstadt South Russia in June 1917 Braun urged the conference to establish a central Mennonite archives The conference responded positively and as Mennonite conferences tend to do named him archivist He immediately set to work collecting materials only to have the entire archives carted away by the Communists in 1929 It has just recently 1991 been rediscovered in Odessa Braun was a gifted student very tall but also painfully shy In the struggle to master his handicap Braun became sensitive to the problems of his own students later on making him a compassionate and deeply caring teacher But he was also a teacher who worked tirelessly to improve his teaching skills During the post war revolutionary and early Communist years the South Russia Mennonite colonies were devastated by criss crossing armies the anarchist bands of Nestor Makhno the Communists who requisitioned nearly all their food and animals and the famine and disease that followed Conditions got so bad that the Lehrerseminar had to be closed in 1919 Braun used this enforced leisure to organize his archives and write the first history of the Molotschna Mennonite School Board which had done so much to improve the Mennonite schools In the midst of death destruction famine and his own deteriorating health Braun resumed his duties in 1920 when the school was reopened Braun s students were no better off than he sometimes worse To help them through these difficult times he wrote to American Mennonite colleges encouraging their students to help his students by sending food packages Of the forty students in the school s three classes all between the ages of 16 and 20 many had eaten their last crumbs before Christmas he wrote in January 1922 All they had to drink was prips a

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/braun.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Anna Bartsch
    marriage in 1928 the young couple settled down to farming in Saskatchewan During a church service they heard Aaron and Ernestine Janzen veteran Congo missionaries appeal for additional workers The next day feeling an irresistible call to ministry the Bartches knelt in their humble kitchen and committed themselves for missionary service In late fall 1930 Anna and Henry left Saskatchewan in their Model T Ford enroute to Winnipeg before leaving for Congo Nearing the Manitoba border they encountered a blinding snow storm When a policeman stopped and inquired about their destination in this kind of weather Henry replied that they were off to Africa The officer was baffled Well Mister he responded sarcastically in that case you better keep driving You ve still got a long way to go By 1933 Anna together with her family were finally at home in Bololo Congo In short order they established a church a school a farm and a medical clinic Scarcely a year later the family received word from Ottawa that their Canadian passports were about to expire The Bartsches considered three options allowing their Canadian citizenship to lapse thereby becoming stateless ending their mission work and returning to Canada or for Henry to return alone in order to renew their citizenship The family chose the latter and so Henry started walking west on September 23 1934 Meanwhile Anna continued with monumental courage not only parenting their growing family but at the same time giving leadership to the mission work Her days were filled with translation music church leadership supervision of the school medical work and nurturing her three children During these difficult days she was often sustained by recalling the words of her beloved teacher A H Unruh First work yourself to death then pray yourself to life It was now

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