Kroeker, Susanna Schowalter (ca. 1879-1941)
Susanna Schowalter Kroeker, a pioneer missionary (General Conference Mennonite) at Janjgir, India, was born ca. 1879 in Mühlhausen, Alsace (then part of the German empire). She lived with an aunt at the castle Geisberg in Alsace, part of which was maintained as a resort or vacation home, part of which was home for six families who farmed the surrounding land for the landowners.
Susanna met her future husband, Johann F. Kroeker, when he visited the Geisberg and Schafbush while a student in the mid-1890s at St. Chrischona Bible School near Basel, Switzerland. J. F. Kroeker, born in Gnadenfeld in the Molotschna colony, was one of several Mennonites from Russia to study at this Bible school. Kroeker thereafter studied at Bethel College, North Newton, KS graduating from the academy in 1899.
Susanna and Johann Kroeker and P. A. and Elizabeth Penner, were the first General Conference Mennonite missionaries to India, arriving at Bombay on 9 December 1900. The Kroekers opened a mission among the outcaste Chamar and Ghasia people located on the west side of the Hasdeo River on the central part of the northern plain known historically as Hindustan. The couple first lived in a small one-room hut in the midst of the people. As with every other home in Bhatapara, they had no well or toilet facilities.
Later when they had secured land for a mission station they moved into a tent. While living in the tent Susana became very ill and the government doctor who came to attend her said, "I can give you no hope." Yet God restored her. The station eventually included a four-room bungalow, a row of houses for the Indian workers, a boys' boarding school, and later a girls' boarding school.
Suffering sicknesses repeatedly, the couple resigned in 1908 but were persuaded to stay on until the spring of 1909, completing eight and one-half years of service. The family now included three sons and two daughters. They returned to Germany with plans to move to the United States to assume a pastorate. The move was prevented because J. F. had lost his citizenship, whereupon they returned to the place of his birth to serve the church in itinerant evangelism. During the Russian Revolution they were taken by Red Army officers and separated. Susanna and the children never saw J. F. again. They kept in touch by sending letters by proxy and finally he was sent to Siberia where he died of typhus fever.
Moyer, Samuel T. They Heard the Call. Newton, KS, 1970: 34- 40.
Ratzlaff, Harold. "Plantinga Church in India." MTh thesis, Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Bethany Biblical Seminary, 1950: 7-43.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 498-499. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Bender, John M. "Kroeker, Susanna Schowalter (ca. 1879-1941)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K7647.html.
APA style: Bender, John M. (1987). Kroeker, Susanna Schowalter (ca. 1879-1941). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K7647.html.