Arson in Vauxhall, Alberta

Zionsbote 3 July 1940, pp. 10-11

Alberta, Vauxhall, 24 June 1940 

To all those dear ones who read this article, a hearty greeting with John 16:33; “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

It was Tuesday, June 18, when I was in town to post the last report to the Zionsbote of many blessing and blessed hours. I met a man who said to me, “Both churches have been burnt down.”

A moment of doubt on my part was followed by great terror. Yes, both were burnt down: the church of the Mennonite Brethren and also that of the Mennonite Church. The latter was located 2 miles north and 2 miles east of the former. It was clear that this was not due to an accident of through carelessness. Both buildings stood empty and out in the open without caretakers or watchmen present. Our whole building was 32 ft wide and 50 ft long, the sanctuary being 32 by 36 ft, and the entrance 34 by 14 ft, in three sections. Above the entrance were two rooms, 10 by 20 ft each, very suitable for younger Sunday School classes.

We have experienced many hours of blessings over the past 2 ½ years in this building, and were happy and fortunate in that the Heavenly Father had provided it for us, even though it was small and unpainted on the outside and inside. It was our building. Although we still owed $180 on it, we hoped to pay it off this fall, and to finish the building as well as to beautify the yard. Suddenly, overnight, it was only ashes. One asks, “Lord, - why? 

[Earlier] When it became too crowded in the school we prayed to our Heavenly Father for a house [church]. With approximately $1000 and 600 man work days, doing our own work under the leadership of one brother, we built our house [church], each one contributing his gift as best as possible. We heard God's Word in it, held prayer meetings, Sunday School, Youth and Music Programs, etc. Our souls were strengthened and nurtured, we were blessed and felt like “at home”. And now our dear Heavenly Father has allowed these two houses of worship to be destroyed.

And with that comes the questions: Where do we meet now, since none of our houses are large enough for 100-175 people? We so want to, and we need to, meet together, for we feel somewhat like the 12 year old Jesus who said, “Don't you know that I must be in my Father's house?” And on that same day, Tuesday the 18 th of June, two dear brethren, Jakob Pankratz and Theodore Hoel, a Norwegian, came to serve us with the Word of God in the evening and to tell us that they had prepared for African mission work and were now visiting churches to carry on home mission work. This meeting took place at the home of dear couple Peter Langemann. Since it's very busy right now, not many people attended and there was sufficient room. Comforted and blessed, we took leave of one another. May the dear Saviour be with these brethren and make them a great blessing also in heathen lands.  

On Friday, the 21 st, the Bertholds couple, missionaries from India, arrived suddenly. This meeting also took place at the Langemanns. The dear brother gave a dedicated sermon and shared much out of his 35 years of service in India. The sister also shared of their experiences. If I am not mistaken, she spent 42 years over there. May the Lord also bless this couple and make them a blessing wherever they travel!

But where to hold our Sunday worship services? Several brave persons suggested that we hold them on the yard of the destroyed house of worship, out in the open. That's what was done, except that the Sunday School was omitted and everyone brought chairs or benches from home. We had not held a dedicated service as yet, planning to that when the building was completed. This service now also served as a funeral for our beloved house of worship. We reminded ourselves, on the basis of God's Word, that we must take seriously the times and the Word, and that no one can take our blessing and our salvation. Further, we were reminded that if our earthly house, this body becomes ashes, our life is transported by Christ into the eternal mansions. We were also reminded, that nothing occurs without His will or permission. Blessed and strengthened in our faith, we returned to our several homes.

Even if some later complained about headaches because of the hot sun on our heads, it was agreed to continue holding services there until our dear Heavenly Father would show us another way. We are placing our trust in Him. Our dear government is good towards us and we want to continue to pray for it more earnestly. The evildoers are being sought, but whether a trace of them, of they themselves have been found, I do not know at this time. They are also in God's hands.

In closing, a hearty greeting with Psalm 121: 1, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

Peter Riediger