Willy Janz was a major leader among the Mennonite Brethren congregations in Paraguay and Brazil. He was born 7 November 1926 in Grossweide, Molotschna Colony, Russia and emigrated to Paraguay in 1930 with his parents. He was converted at a young age and joined the Mennonite Brethren congregation in Filadelfia.
From 1945 to 1950 he studied in Canada and the United States. Following his return he married Elsie Lenzmann, who had accompanied him from Canada. They worked together in Paraguay for 12 years, then moved to Brazil. During this time they also studied at Tabor College and the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, CA (1957-1959).
Brother Janz loved his congregation and his conference. He gave to this work everything he had to give. He was able to absorb and overcome many difficulties because of his love for the cause of Christ. He was not a popular preacher, but his sermons were organized systematically and rich in content. His vision was broad, including the entire Mennonite fellowship. He introduced triennial South American Bible retreats, for all German-speaking congregations from Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. He actively promoted the translation of the Foundation Series Sunday school material, and edited books, booklets, and other resources for church workers. He wrote a drama "Ich sende Euch" (So Send I You) for the 50th anniversary of the coming of the Mennonites to Paraguay. He took the initiative in many areas including youth work, marriage enrichment seminars, the building of a Bible camp as well as a retirement center in Brazil, and the establishing of an archival center. From 1973 to 1979 he was chairman of the South American Conference of Mennonite Brethren. He and his wife were killed 28 May 1986 in a car accident.
Janz, Willy and Gerhard Ratzlaff, eds. Gemeinde unter dem Kreuz des Südens: Die Mennoniten Brüder Gemeinden in Brasilien, Paraguay und Uruguay, 1930-1980. [Curitiba?] : Suedamerikanische Konferenz der Mennonitischen Bruedergemeinden, 1980.
Cite This Article
Ratzlaff, Gerhard. "Janz, Willy (1926-1986)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 28 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Janz,_Willy_(1926-1986)&oldid=88282.
Ratzlaff, Gerhard. (1987). Janz, Willy (1926-1986). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Janz,_Willy_(1926-1986)&oldid=88282.
Herald Press website.
©1996-2015 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.