Course of Life:
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am: that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
My from God given husband and father of our children Johannes Abram Harder was born 22 March 1897 in Rosenort, Molotschna Colony South Russia. His parents were Abram and Justina Harder nee Epp. His parents moved to the Crimea soon after his birth. My dear husband came to Grossweide at 9 years [age] with his parents. The parents of my husband followed the urging of their hearts and the commission of their Lord and Master that they should found a home for orphan children. The Lord allowed them to find a large home with several acres of land in Grossweide, Gnadenfelder Volost. With firm faith in their heavenly Father, they accepted their first orphans children. My husband attended the village school here [in Grossweide], later he also had the opportunity for higher education. The group of orphaned children increased so that my husband grew up in a large group of children and had to share the love of his parents with them. World War I interfered with his further education and he had to stay home where he was a great support for his parents who were in a difficult political situation.
I am quoting here from what my husband wrote about himself: "Our dear orphanage in Grossweide was a fortunate home for me. There I was allowed to see how wonderfully our great God supported the faith and lifework of my parents, especially during the years of war, the citizens' revolt and the famine in 1922. I was able to be part of the work and the blessing and be of help to my parents. The work was often hard but we at least had a free hand [to do as we wanted] until the Bolsheviks became the government and interfered in our work according to their principles. Then our work became very difficult because we were forbidden every trace of religious up bringing. On top of that came the year of famine. In relation to this, it was amazing how God helped us. Not one of the children succumbed, we starved, but no one starved to death.
In this time the Lord gave me in Tina, nee Rempel, a loving wife. With our wedding on 28 May 1922, we gathered for a time of Thanksgiving for the merciful help we experienced through the year of famine."
Preacher Isaak Ediger served at our wedding and, with us, entreated God for His blessing for our marriage which has lasted almost 42 years. On New Years' Eve 1917, my husband was converted to the Lord and in 1919, he was baptized on his confession of faith and accepted into the Mennonite Brethren Church. During the Revolution he had to justify himself to the government officials over and over again because of the education and training of the orphan children. Because, in the eyes of the of the government officials, the Director of the orphanage was too old, they held his son, my Johannes, completely responsible for everything that happened in the orphanage. The fall of 1921 was especially hard when my husband had to travel through the front lines of the both the Red and the White armies.
The farm that was cultivated by the orphanage was in the Halbstadter Vollost. With his life in danger, my husband went to get the farm to get the meat and produce for our large family at the orphanage. During this time he started having problems with his breathing. The doctor called it "nervous asthma". On November 12, 1922, the government seized our work and we were evicted from the orphanage.
Our wish was that we, everyone at the orphanage, would be able to emigrate as a complete family, however, this was not permitted. So we had to decide to emigrate alone, and part from the family because some of my husband's siblings were not healthy. He was the only one of his family, and I was the only one of my family who left [Russia] for Canada on June 23, 1924. In Canada we have lived in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, we spent the longest time in British Columbia. We were in Yarrow for 28 years, in Black Creek for 3 years, and the rest of the time in Clearbrook.
Soon after his conversion, my dear husband received the call from the Lord to preach the Gospel. In 1923, the Church at Grossweide appointed him as a co-worker. At Christmas 1930, he was voted in as leader of the Yarrow M.B. Church. He stayed in this position for a longer time. On July 19, 1931, he was ordained as a minister. Brothers A.H. Unruh and P. J. Neufeld served. The employment in the church brought us many blessings and inner growth. Never the less, he wasn't spared difficult conflicts. The church grew considerably. He welcomed the burden and the responsibility he had towards the church, but he lacked the time to dedicate himself fulltime to the church as he also needed to do his farm work. It was an especially blessed time because the things we didn't dare hope for, the Lord gave to us. We were allowed to live our faith uninterrupted and fellowship with a large group of God's children. We received much love and help, spiritual as well as material from the brothers and sisters in Yarrow.
Sunday, March 8, 1964, my dear husband preached in our Church in Clearbrook, and on Monday, March 9th, her spoke at Mrs. H.G. Hooge's funeral. In the evening of that same day, he became very ill. Thursday, March 12th, he had to go to the hospital. His condition deteriorated very much on March 19th so that we notified our children who live far away. Because he had already had physical complaints for a long time, he longed to go home, to be forever with the Lord. He knew that he was sheltered under Christ's blood. He loved his Saviour.
Sunday, at 10 am, my dear husband asked me to read Luke 18 and 19 for him. In chapter 18, it speaks of righteousness and how one can become righteous. I was exactly at verse 14 when he got worse. Soon an attack set in, then a second attack and with the third attack, he breathed out his soul, to be forever with the Lord. The Lord called him home to glory, exactly on his birthday on the morning of March 22 at 11:45 am.
Our marriage was blessed with 8 children, 6 of them are still alive. The twins went ahead of their father in the delicate childhood years and were there to greet him. Surviving him and mourning his so early death am I, his deeply grieving wife and 6 children with their families. John with his family in Gooderich, Ontario, David and Fred with their families in New Westminster, BC; and 3 daughters, Lilie (Mrs. Robert McCord) with family in Richmond, BC, Rosie (Mrs. George Braun) with family in Hazelton, BC, and Bertha, (Mrs. Albert Dueck) in Terrace BC, 17 grandchildren, 1 brother and 3 sisters.
My faithful husband and father of our children, loved his family very much and was not afraid to sacrifice to make our family life as great as it was possible for him to do and to provide for our children the necessary education and Christian training.
We are mourning and are grieving deeply over this unexpected and for us almost too quick farewell of our dear husband, father and grandfather. However, we have the hope of eternal life and look forward to meeting him again up in the light with the Lord.
"Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." John 11: 25-26.
At this opportunity, we thank all loving brothers and sisters for their love and sympathy during these days of pain and sorrow; for the telegrams, letters and sympathy cards that over and over again say: "We are praying for you."
Again and again I thank my heavenly Father for the prayer support. "One carries the other's load". This we have richly experienced.
Funeral was held in Clearbrook M.B. Church March 26, 1964 with Rev. H. Thielman and Rev. D.B. Wiens officiating and Rev. H. Brucks brought greetings from the Yarrow M.B. Church.
The sorrowing family of Rev. J.A. Harder.
Mennonitische Rundschau - April 29, 1964 - page 12.