by Terry M. Smith
Blumenort, Man.—A once exuberant child along with a pastor having roots in Germany and his wife were the centres of attention on Sept. 8, 2016, at Blumenort EMC as friends and family, and Board of Missions and national office staff gathered to honour Verna Doerksen and Manfred (Fred) and Stella Neff.
Ken Zacharias, EMC Foreign Secretary, welcomed people and led in prayer. A dinner followed—taco salad and cupcakes—prepared by Diana Peters and others.
After dinner Rob Wiebe, part of Blumenort EMC, led in singing. Trish Reimer, from Prairie Grove, accompanied on piano.
Anthony Reimer, from Blumenort EMC, based a devotional on Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 12. California Redwoods are tall trees that survive tough times by interlinking their shallow roots. A four-word summary of Paul in 1 Cor. 12 is, “We need each other.” We are indispensible, interdependent, and interconnected. To reach the world for Christ, we need each other, he said.
Carl Doerksen, Verna’s brother, said that Verna’s cross-cultural service took her to Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, and to Redcliff, Alta. Verna has a heart for helping others, is adventurous and energetic, and frugal. A highlight for Verna was when her parents visited her in Paraguay and Peru.
Wycliffe’s Paul Meisner, with his wife Alice watching, spoke of how they have appreciated Verna’s willingness to go where led to serve in translation, literacy, and discipleship. Colleagues spoke of her being unpretentious, brave, friendly, one who made light of hardships, patient with village people.Verna replied that her heart was full. She was thankful for supportive co-workers in Paraguay, and could not take much credit because no one works alone.
While she served as a nurse in Paraguay, nursing was not her passion; cross-cultural work and literacy training were. She wanted to give her life to something eternal, and delighted to help people read Scripture in their language because the Word of the Lord stands forever.
Someone said to her, “I could never do what you do.” Verna said she could not do it either, but people prayed and God was faithful.
Tim Dyck, General Secretary, presented Verna with a plaque. Diana Peters gave her flowers and a hug.
Manfred and Stella Neff
Terry Scales of Community Bible Fellowship in Swan River, Man., said Fred and Stella moved to
Swan River in the late 1980s. They later moved to Grand Rapids, Man., to serve a small church
with Mid-Way Christian Leadership.
Don Buhler, also of CBF, saw Fred’s service as displaying the humility and gratitude of which Paul
speaks in Eph. 3. Don said people are praying for the Neffs as Fred has chemotherapy for cancer.
Fred is from Germany and sees Canada through fresh eyes, wrote Ferlin Abraham (read by
Malcolm Munroe, Mid-Way’s board chair). It took Ferlin a while to realize the significance of Fred’s
choice of a pet. It is said that as an owner and a pet grow older, they become more alike. That’s
true here “because I think Fred is a German Shepherd,” said Ferlin.
Fred replied that he was undeserving of this honour because of discouragement in ministry. Recently diagnosed with cancer, he has peace, a renewed love for the Lord, and wants many more years of ministry.
Stella said they have been together 44 years, and Fred is her strength. He is alone, she said, since most of his family members were killed during the bombing of Dresden in 1945. She welcomed prayer. Ken Zacharias led in prayer for Fred and Stella.
Tim Dyck, General Secretary, presented Fred and Stella with a plaque. Diana Peters gave them flowers and hugs.
Gerald Reimer, BOM Missions Mobilizer, led in a prayer time. Some requests were shared generally, others within small groups.
Rob Wiebe led in Drinking at the Springs of Living Water, and then Ken Zacharias wished everyone a good night.