Lengua Indian Mission
The Lengua Indian Mission in the Paraguayan Chaco was considered by the Mennonite immigrants to the Chaco in 1932, two years after their arrival there; the project was, however, prevented for two years by the war between Paraguay and Bolivia. In 1935 a missionary association called Licht den Indianern was organized by 48 members of the various Mennonite groups (General Conference Mennonite, Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, and Mennonite Brethren). The first missionaries sent to the field were Abraham Unger, Abraham and Anna Ratzlaff, and Gerhard and Katharina Giesbrecht. The first convert, Sepe Thama (i.e., a son), was baptized after ten years of work. In 1951 the congregation had 28 members, of whom 15 were baptized on 22 January 1950.
The language of the Lengua Indians is a very difficult one to learn; there was at first no written matter in the dialect used at the station. The language consists of only 17 letters, the sounds of which include a peculiar lisp which is very difficult to acquire. Besides receiving spiritual service, the Indians were also encouraged to give up their nomadic way of life and make permanent settlements. By the 1950s the Catholic Church had put no obstacles in the way of the work.
In 1946 the Mennonite Brethren Mission Board
(Hillsboro, Kansas), by agreement with the missionary society, took over the
Chaco Mission Field. The missionary society continued to serve as the
representative of the Chaco Mennonites and shared in the operation of the
Mission by counseling with the Mennonite Board Board, also raising funds in Paraguay.
However the administrative and financial responsibility remained in the hands of
the North American Board, which furnished most of the finances. In 1949 the
name of the Chaco Mission was officially changed to "Chaco Amerikanische
Mennonitenbrüder Mission Licht den Indianern."
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967 II, 637 f.
Survey of the Mission Fields of the Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America Located in India, Africa, Brazil, Paraguay, and Colombia, made by A. E. Janzen, Executive Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Foreign Missions During December 1948 to June 10, 1949. Hillsboro, April 1950: 86-116.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 322. 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: Giesbrecht, Gerhard B. "Lengua Indian Mission." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/lengua_indian_mission.
APA style: Giesbrecht, Gerhard B. (1957). Lengua Indian Mission. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/lengua_indian_mission.