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  • MBHC: Profiles: C. F. Klassen
    man strode into the room He was a Klassen from Canada but spoke their native dialect Low German Klassen was one of them who had left Russia and gone to Canada in 1928 Now he had come to post war Germany seeking his brethren he said He came to offer them the help of the Mennonite family in North America through Mennonite Central Committee MCC to find a new home after the horrors of the Second World War As the eager refugees gathered around him bombarding him with questions they were surprised to discover he could tell them all about relatives in Canada which town or village they had settled in what they were working at sometimes the names of their children How could this be Soon they heard that C F Klassen after helping thousands of Mennonites flee Russia in the 1920s had been busy during the war years in Canada collecting the money borrowed from the Canadian Pacific Railway and the government to resettle in Canada It was a difficult task but he did it cheerfully Now it took on a new significance He could comfort these dislocated people with news of loved ones And he could put them in touch with those who would help them in turn to reach a new homeland Humbly he thanked God for His ways C F Klassen knew what it meant to be a stranger and pilgrim on earth Back in Russia he had seen Mennonite village life destroyed through social unrest famine and civil war He had acted as an intermediary between his people and the government in Moscow and later between them and Western Mennonites who had sent them relief in the famine years He sought to give his life to relieve suffering wherever he found it whether it

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/klassen.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Katharina Schellenberg
    North America The Elder s world was large He resided in Kansas kept in contact with Mennonites in Russia and nourished a new generation that would take up mission posts around the world At the age of nineteen Katharina made her first commitment to Christ and joined the Buhler Kan Mennonite Brethren Church As a young adult she worked in an orphanage and then in two hospitals When she volunteered for missions she was advised to take a four year homeopathic medical course She completed the course before leaving for India in 1907 On the eve of her departure she remarked to a friend that a woman who goes to the foreign field by herself should be very sure It was that sureness that sustained her in very difficult circumstances Katharina worked as the only American medical doctor in the India Mennonite Brethren mission territory from 1907 to her death in 1945 During those thirty eight years she took only two furloughs in 1914 and 1923 For the first twenty years she worked in several locations demonstrating to Indians that the medicines could be trusted The task was far from easy In 1917 she wrote her father that the problems are so severe that one can hardly stand it and one does not know where it will end But God sees and knows all and He can change things Dr Schellenberg at left with patient Photograph from the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies Fresno With the 1928 completion of a hospital in Shamshabad she had a more permanent home During the first year the hospital was open 8 519 patients were treated They came with all kinds of illnesses sometimes having waited too long to be helped Often she worked a seven day week making do with limited equipment and

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/schell.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Jerome Segers and Lijsken Dircks
    the prison but they were able to write several letters that have been recorded in the Martyr s Mirror In all Jerome wrote six letters to his wife and Lijsken wrote three letters to her husband These letters so filled with thanks to God and many references to the Scriptures expressed the couple s deep love for on another and for God Love for one another In his letters to Lijsken Jerome addressed her as my dear wife my dearly beloved wife and sister my most beloved lamb Over and over again he expressed his concern for her well being At one point he even said that he would gladly spend a whole year in prison and then be put to death if only she would be released Lijsken received with joy each letter from her husband glad to hear news of his continuing faith and love In her own letters she encouraged him with the words of Scripture and continued to commit him to God s care When she heard that her husband was troubled on her account she comforted him She called him my beloved husband my dear husband Love for God As part of their concern for one another both Jerome and Lijsken encouraged one another to remain faithful to their Lord They prayed to be worthy of their sufferings for the sake of Jesus They repeatedly wrote of God s presence and comfort They often referred to the words of Scripture In spite of their imprisonment in spite of the threat of death in spite of the torture in which Jerome was bound to a bench and stretched on a rack both Jerome and Lijsken remained faithful to their Lord Even in the midst of their sufferings they offered thanks and praise to God In one

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/segdir.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Benjamin B. Janz
    in the Orthodox church fashion but if I could ever free myself of Janz I would cross myself three times B B Janz and family 1925 Here was a persistence and stubbornness that together with the efforts of other Mennonite leaders enabled over 20 000 Russian Mennonites to leave Soviet Russia for Canada during the 1920s Janz himself escaped only a few hours before his scheduled arrest by the secret police Today Janz s surviving letters still capture the drama and tension of those days As a young man Janz against his parents wishes left the established Mennonite Church in Russia to join the Mennonite Brethren Though staunchly loyal to his denomination he was always a Mennonite ecumenist believing that when members of a community worked together on common tasks they also built a common faith In Russia he worked together with other Mennonites on issues related to both emigration and economic reconstruction Once in North American he felt equally comfortable at Mennonite Central Committee gatherings or conferences relating to relief work and immigrant problems A speaker at a service honoring Janz s immigration work noted that while in Russia he concluded that Janz was a minister of our denomination Only in 1930 here in Coaldale I learned that he was your minister but let me tell you he is nevertheless our Benjamin Janz Most of Janz s friends were unaware of the many letters he wrote Here was inter Mennonite dialogue and pastoral care at its best Conference leaders MCC officials college presidents and periodical editors were on his mailing list His single spaced and often long epistles reached ministers in Brazil Uruguay Paraguay Canada and the United States In the letters there was a touch of sarcasm for the arrogant for those who had quarreled an insistence that

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/janz.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Annie C. Funk
    is evident in her answer to a friend who feared for her safety on the ship Our heavenly Father is as near to us on sea as on land My trust is in Him I have no fear In 1908 Annie founded a girls school in Janjgir India which was later named in her memory Her work there was interrupted by a telegram in 1912 her mother was close to death she was to come home as soon as possible Annie quickly made travel plans When she arrived in Southampton England she learned that her ship the S S Havorford would be delayed by a coal strike Her travel agent suggested another ship called the Titanic Some were saying this was a modern marvel that even God couldn t sink Though it cost more Annie was assured that passage on the Titanic would get her home in record time She boarded as a second class passenger This was the Titanic s highly acclaimed maiden voyage It was the largest most luxurious ship every built No cost had been spared The White Star Line was making history This would be the fastest trans Atlantic voyage ever Many aristocratic luminaries were aboard in first class accomodations of course The ship s captain Edward J Smith was to retire after he docked in New York So far he had said his career as a ship s captain had been uneventful The Titanic left Southampton s dock at noon on April 10 1912 Near midnight four days later the ship struck an iceberg in spite of repeated warnings The unsinkable ship began sinking into the icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean about four hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland As elaborately as the ship was furnished it lacked life boats for all

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/funk.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Peter Martinovich Friesen
    headed by the Tsar emperor or Tsarina Government policies granted special rights and privileges to designated groups while others suffered because of poverty and lack of power Russian peasants religious dissidents and Jews were among those who suffered greatly Friesen although he was a member of a group that received special privileges often spoke up and even risked his life for the weak and oppressed The years 1904 to 1905 were a period of crisis Russia had just lost the Russo Japanese war and there was much dissatisfaction with the government which led to an attempted revolution Some blamed the Jews for the misfortune In Sevastopol where Friesen lived at the time violence broke out The press issued inflammatory articles Speeches aimed at inciting violence were made at public places Friesen was very ill and confined to bed but felt constrained to intervene on behalf of the Jews One morning he told his wife that he had received an assignment from God and asked her to bring his clothes Although Susanna realized the extreme danger her husband might face she consented Friesen hurried to the marketplace where he found a mob of several thousand listening to inflammatory speeches Before he arrived he wrote his name and address on two cards which he stuck in his coat and trouser pockets He expected that he might be killed and wanted to leave identification so that his body could be taken care of by his family In the meantime he had asked his family to pray At the marketplace Friesen forced his way throught the crowds to the center where a vehicle was standing He climbed up and summoning all his energy stood on the seat and began to address the crowd With eloquence that could only be explained as a special gift

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/friesen.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Magdalena Hergert Becker
    and the mourners moved to the cemetery When the coffin was lowered into the grave several of the women took off their beautiful shawls draping them over the box This custom was a token of love and respect for the dead The reservation women were willing to give sacrificially to honor the dead but Magdalena Becker gave sacrificially to help the living Magdalena and A J had come to the Post Oak Mission in 1902 This first Mennonite Brethren foreign mission field though located in Oklahoma was begun in 1896 when Henry and Elizabeth Kohfeld moved to the Post Oak station During her 37 years at Post Oak Magdalena participated in more than six hundred funerals She taught first aid hygiene sewing and cooking to the Native American women For 28 years she also served as a Field Matron for the Indian Service of the United States government clarifying land ownership keeping records of government allotments negotiating rental contracts and distributing government checks As a government agent she was permitted to promote Christian practices because the government thought it would contribute to Americanizing the Native peoples But Magdalena never lost sight of her first calling to share the message of salvation Discouragement came often From the establishment of the mission in 1894 until 1907 not a single Native American had chosen to openly identify as being a Christian Each year the Comanches from the reservation territory camped at Pesenadama or Rotten Village for a month long government payday The Beckers packed supplies and followed setting up a tent for gospel meetings Unfortunately interest was low and there was no response to the call of Christ Magdalena missed the three small sons she had left at Post Oak she was physically and emotionally exhausted One day she quit trying to restrain

    Original URL path: http://www.mbhistory.org/profiles/becker.en.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MBHC: Profiles: Dirk Willems
    get out but the ice kept breaking The guard was sure he would drown in the icy waters An etching of Dirk Willems by Dutch artist Jan Luyken It first appeared in the 1685 edition of The Martyrs Mirror Suddenly he saw a hand reaching for him and a voice telling him to hold on and to be calm Slowly but surely Dirk pulled him from the water and to the safety of the pond s edge Soon the exhausted guard realized that it was Dirk who had saved him The prisoner trying to escape had come back to save the guard The guard exhausted but happy to be alive had no choice but to take Dirk back to prison Some weeks went by as Dirk languished in prison One day the guard heard the judge in the courtroom next to the jail handing out the sentence Whereas Dirk Willems born at Asperen at present a prisoner has confessed that at the age of fifteen he was rebaptized in Rotterdam at the house of one Pieter Willems and that he further in Asperen at his house at diverse hours permitted several persons to be rebaptized therefore we the aforesaid judges do condemn the aforesaid Dirk Willems that he shall be executed with fire until death ensues The guard hearing the harsh punishment wondered why this man was so dangerous Did rebaptism really make a person so threatening that execution was necessary While such a sentence seems unlikely in our times it was the fate of many sixteenth century Anabaptists In 1569 when Willems was executed rebaptism signaled a belief that one no longer thought the existing church the state church was an authentic church Rebaptism expressed the desire to become part of a counter movement a restored church that would

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