Paraguay (Part 2)

paraguay-2

Of all the places in the world, why would Don Hess and I choose to go on a prayer trip to Paraguay?

Paraguay a country of 6 million people, about the size of California, land-locked by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia has welcomed immigrants from all over the world.

From our standpoint as persons of Mennonite descent, we were interested to learn that Paraguay now has about 50,000 people who are Mennonite or of Mennonite ancestry. Many of these Mennonites are German speaking. They are from German ancestors who had been invited by Catherine the Great to Russia in the late 1700’s to develop the Ukraine. They prospered greatly there for 100 years. Then following World Wars I and II, unwanted by Russia or Germany or anyone else, they found a safe haven, some in Canada, but more in Paraguay, in the undeveloped western Chaco region of Paraguay, known as the Green Hell.

This was a time of great suffering for these Russian Mennonite settlers as they struggled to eke out an existence from this inhospitable land.

Mennonites in the United States reached out to help their “Mennonite brethren.”

Don Hess in doing some family research discovered that his Grandfather Hess had been touched by God to respond to these Russian Mennonites in the process of settling in Paraguay and had contributed a sizable amount of money to their needs.

Today 70 years later these Russian Mennonites are now prospering greatly. This “green hell” is now producing food for the nations. They ship the very best quality beef to Israel and other countries. And they have schools and hospitals and industries and businesses of all types and some have risen to positions of power and influence in the land of Paraguay.

Their churches are large. On Sunday morning we attended a service in a beautiful church building in Filadelfia with 1000 German Mennonites in attendance. We met on Monday with leaders in the Mennonite Brethren Church. We learned of their hearts for mission and their active and effective mission programs throughout the country as well as their interest in doing missions in other countries.

The question still remains: Why would Don Hess and I go on a prayer trip to Paraguay?

The answer will need to wait for another post.

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