In 1929, as the family emigrated, secret police arrested Hans’ father in Moscow. In a refugee camp in Hammerstein, Germany, Hans learned of his father’s death and contracted a life-threatening ear infection. Hans and his mother immigrated to Chaco, Paraguay, in 1930. At 9, Hans accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. He was baptized into Filadelfia MB Church, Paraguay, Oct. 16, 1938. He graduated from teacher’s training in 1941. Hans was a strict, passionate, much loved teacher. Mar. 1, 1947, Hans married Suse Epp. They moved to Filadelfia in 1948, where Hans worked in an industrial plant. After attending Bible Institute of the North American Old Mennonite Church, Bragado, Argentina, he earned his Master of Theology from Baptist International Theological School, Buenos Aires. Hans taught at Filadelfia High School, Paraguay, from 1955–58, and Biblical and Theological Training School from 1955–60, and served as youth pastor at Filadelfia MB Church and Fernheim Colony. In 1959, Hans helped establish Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia School for Hispanic children, which he directed 1961–63. Hans was moderator of the South American MB Conference 1962–67. In 1964, Hans and Suse moved to Asunción, Paraguay, to work for the MB Board of Missions and Services (MBMSI). They founded the Alberto Schweitzer missionary school, where Hans was principal 1966–74, and the MB Bible Institute (IBA), which he directed 1966–71. Hans prepared curricula for indigenous people and held 5–6 week summer teacher training seminars in Yalve Sanga. He pastored the Asunción MB Church 1969–74. After immigrating to Canada in 1975, Hans and Suse helped establish a Christian radio station (OBEDIRA) in Asunción, counselled Paraguayan churches, and accompanied Disciple Making International (DMI) teams. Hans pastored Vancouver MB Church 1978–81. He was active in Logos Canada, supporting Russian churches and the Message of Peace radio ministry. In 1990, Hans retired in Abbotsford, B.C., where he became an active member of King Road MB Church. Hans was a gifted storyteller and writer. In June, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Predeceased by 2 sisters in 1930, daughter Margaret at birth in 1959; Hans is mourned by Suse; children Hedy, Ursula, Ernst, Edgar, Bert, and their spouses; 11 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild.
Karla is a writer for Mennonite World Conference who lives in Winnipeg.