Thursday, July 28, 2011
William Ebel by Kurt Pudel
Some of my happiest times at Warner Camp have been learning more of the real history of the people and places in and around Grand Junction, MI., which I took for granted as a child. Joe Cirone, L. S. Shaw, and William Hartman were significant camp leaders in my early years. Names like E. E. Byrum and F. G. Smith were common to our language.
Smith’s sister, Lottie Storey, lived with her husband and family on the camp farm during those years and I went to school with their children, Merle, Bob, et al. There were area lay people who attended faithfully, whose children I later encountered in places like Anderson College: Hartman, Hoffman, Macholtz, Buller, Koroch et al.
Among my newer friends is Kurt Pudel, older brother of Sig Pudel, pastor of a church plant near Toronto. Kurt went the other way--west, toward Edmonton where he is in business. Kurt is also the author of When the German Trumpet Sounded and Lillian Meier - Missionary of the Church of God.
Kurt brought a new book to CM this year, 126 pages, chronicling the life and ministry of William Ebel. This year-by-year narrative explores the contributions of a missionary, evangelist, poet, editor, pastor, and prayer warrior. My reading suggested that Wilhelm Ebel capably filled each of the niche’s noted by the author. Altogether, they made him a significant Church of God presence in North America and Eastern Europe between 1905-1919.
Born in Germany in 1863, Wilhelm (William) Ebel converted to Christ in California, 1892 at the age of 29. He met D.S. Warner that same year and was baptized by Warner. That led to an invitation to Grand Junction to join the Trumpet Family to help launch a German publication, “Evangeliums Posaune.”
The Saints were not in Grand Junction long before expanding the “Gospel Trumpet” to the “Evangeliums Posaune” and several other ethnic publications. “EP” launched in 1895 with a printing of 8,000, edited by Fred Hahn. William Ebel assumed the editorship in 1899. The picture above shows the Trumpet Offices as he would have seen them at his arrival in Grand Junction.
In 1902 Ebel launched his own iterant preaching ministry, both German and English, throughout the U.S. and Canada. He married Anna Thiessen of Marion, SD in 1908; they announced their calling to Russia in December 1909, and arrived in Riga (now Latvia) that same year.
Together, they ministered throughout Eastern Europe, where William become a model mentor and missionary to many fellow believers. He was a man of strong faith, a man of practiced prayer, and a strong preacher in both English and German. They endured their share of suffering, losing one child, but always remaining positive and faithful. Keeping a forward look enabled William to help launch both a Latvian Basune and a Russian Truba (Trumpet).
The following quotation from 1914 (p. 79) spoke to me of their venturing spirit: “But despite the great poverty and hard times, they had been able to save almost all the money required for a new printing press, and were lacking only one dollar.”
Missionary work kept them mobile and required a certain flexibility and willingness to live with patience. WWI added suffering, poverty, and strain, and the author shares some of that with the reader. The war finally made it necessary to leave Riga. Caught in Bucharest, Romania, they had to stay throughout 1917-18 and necessity forced William to find secular employment.
They ultimately escaped in early 1919 and returned to Gospel Ministry. I was impressed that Brother Ebel informed the Missionary Board in Anderson to send them only those funds personally designated to them, and use Board support for other missionaries.
The Abel’s were en route to an eventual return to Anderson when they stopped in Basel Switzerland to minister for a time. It was there that William Ebel died on September 18, 1919. His epitaph in the Horburg Cemetery states, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Anna returned stateside and eventually retired to St. Joseph, MI with her sister. Her Memorial Marker records her as “A Missionary of the Church of God.” Her travel chest can be observed in the B. E. Warren Cabin in Anderson, IN on East 5th Street (Church of God Historical Society).
They were a model of devotion to each other for 11 years, 8 months, and 18 days, as Anna noted (p. 102). The years of hardship took their toll and neither lived to be quite 60 years old, but they “served significantly.” A verse from one of William’s poems catches their spirit:
Why shouldst thou so fearful be, at the tempters roaring?
Simply trust in God alone, Satan’s wrath ignoring.
See God’s tenderness and prove, with the sainted hosts above,
His unfailing, wondrous love, ever for thee caring.
For a brief, insightful, easy to read bit of inspiration and history, contact Kurt at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write him at Kurt Pudel, 6319-35 Ave. NW, Edmonton, AF T6L 1G5, Canada. The book is William Ebel, ISBN 978-1-4507-8135-0, self-published 2011, $10 + shipping.
Kurt documented the life of William Ebel because he believes our spiritual heritage is important. From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com