Home John Martens

John Martens

0 comment

John Martens was born in the village of Marienthal, Molotschna, Ukraine. He was the firstborn child of his parents. He lived in Marienthal until September 1943 when his family fled Ukraine with 350,000 others, of which 35,000 were Mennonites. The Great Trek took them across Ukraine, White Russia, Poland, and into Germany. When the war ended in 1945, they waited until March 1948 to come to Canada. John’s early life was severely impacted by civil war, societal anarchy, widespread famine, and Communism. At 11, he lost his father to the Communists. He would learn later that his father had died on his way to a concentration camp. He would say, though, on thinking back about his own family situation at the time: “Even under Communism, I had a wonderful family life. I had a very loving father.” After arriving in Halifax, Mar. 22, 1948, his family took the train to Yarrow, B.C., where they began their new Canadian life. John was baptized in 1949 into the Yarrow Mennonite Church where he also married Gertrude Esau in 1950. John and Gertrude had 5 children, 16 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. John spent 27 years at Ocean Cement until a workplace injury changed his life direction. Then he worked 4 years with Gertrude at Columbia Bible Camp (now Stillwood) and 14 years together for Mennonite Central Committee at The Cedars. John was grateful for the freedom he found in Canada. Worshipping freely in Canada meant everything to him. He was a member of MB churches for 74 years: Yarrow, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Yarrow (again), before ending his church life at Clearbrook MB. For the past 27 years of his life, he served in many ways on the Clearbrook MB board and through visitation. John’s faith was a practical one — he believed you needed to help your neighbour close by and far away. He was devoted to helping charities worldwide if he and Gertie saw the need. He said his three priorities were God, Gertie, and his family. He was a man of faith and hopeful in his eternal home with Jesus.

  • Birth: June 5, 1930
  • Birthplace:
    Marienthal, Molotschna, Ukraine
  • Death: May 18, 2023
  • Parents:
    Jacob John Martens & Anna (Kornelsen) Martens
  • Married:
    Gertrude Esau, April 16, 1950
  • Family:
    children: Marian (Eb), Jim (Nena), Tilly (Aubrey), John (Tabitha), Trudy (Manon); 16 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; siblings Jake Martens [d], Nick Martens, Anne Hamaguchi, Bill Bachman
  • Church:
    Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.
  • Baptism:
    Yarrow (B.C.) MB, as a teen