A tribute to Jake A. Loewen
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
They say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust."
This text (Psalm 91:1-2) introduces the biographical sketch of Jacob (Jake) A. Loewen, known as "Tiger" among the Choco Indians, in the 1954 missionary album of MBMS International. Jake was born in Romanovka, Orenburg, Russia, on Sept. 1, 1922. He was a tiny, sickly infant, but Jake's mother, who was widowed one month after he was born, dedicated him to missionary service.
Jake's early missionary work included children's ministry and evangelism under the West Coast Children's Mission. On Aug. 9, 1945 he married Anne Enns in Yarrow, B.C. Their partnership spanned four continents and six decades.
After 10 years of missionary service with MBMS International in Colombia among the Choco Indians, Jake returned to Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. as professor of anthropology and modern languages. During the summers, he worked among the Waunan Indians in Panama.
In 1964, Jake began working with the American Bible Society in South America, training translators, consulting on translation problems, and supervising Bible translation quality throughout the continent. In this role, he experimented with training mother-tongue speakers as translators. When he reported on his work at a consultation in Spain in 1969, Third World representatives urged that mother-tongue translation become a worldwide Bible Society policy.
In 1970, the United Bible Societies invited Jake to work with mother-tongue translators in Central Africa. Later, from 1979 to 1984, he served as translation consultant in West Africa. By the time he retired, Jake had worked with several hundred different languages.
Jake was an inquisitive and tenacious thinker and observer. His academic pursuits included a certificate in missionary medicine from the Missionary Medical Institute in Toronto (1943), a BA in Humanities from Tabor College (1947), an MA in Linguistics (1955), and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Washington.
He published numerous articles on mission and anthropology. His books include: The Bible in Cross-cultural Perspective; Culture and Human Values: Christian Intervention in Anthropological Perspective; Only the Sword of the Spirit; and a personal narration of his spiritual and intellectual journey, Educating Tiger.
During his rich life, Jake fulfilled many different roles: teacher, mediator, trainer, mentor, innovator, and author. His learning from other cultures stimulated him and changed his way of seeing the world. Although his leisure and academic pursuits were curtailed by several debilitating strokes during the past 12 years, his spiritual journey continued to the end.
He died peacefully Jan. 27 with family members at his side.
He is survived by his wife Anne, four children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
— Ray Harms-Wiebe, MBMSI
Jacob A. born September 1, 1922 in Orenburg, Russia, beloved son of Jacob and Katherine Isaac.
He was preceded in death by his father, mother, his step-father, Abram Loewen and two sisters; Tina and Anna.
On August 19, 1945 he married Anne Enns in Yarrow, BC, a partnership that spanned 4 continents and 6 decades.
Jake died peacefully at The Cottage on January 27, 2006 at the age of 83 with family members at his side.
He is survived by his loving wife Anne of 60 years, their 4 children: Gladys (Mel), DJ Pauls and Al Pauls, Sharon (David) Shepherd and Bill (Margaret); 8 grandchildren: Allison, Jennifer, Jason, Adam, Andrew, Nic, Karissa (Carl) and Kimberly; and one great grandchild Mira.
Jake had long associations with the Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions, Tabor College, the American Bible Society and the United Bible Societies.
Jake had a rich life which took him to places such as Colombia, Peru, Panama, Zambia and Togo, giving him contacts around the world. He was many things in the work world: a teacher, a mediator, a research, a trainer, an innovator, an author, a mentor, an observer and a seeker. His love of anthropology and his skill at Bible translation inspired and motivated him, taking him to many cultures where the learning stimulated him and changed his way of seeing the world.
Throughout his professional life he published numerous books, these being an important part of the legacy he wanted to leave behind.
He enjoyed his early years of retirement, fishing in various lakes and rivers in B.C. He approached fishing like all his activities, with passion and dedication. Jake's leisure activities and academic pursuits were curtailed with the debilitating effects of several strokes during the past 12 years.
Special thanks to the staff at Hallmark Assisted Living and the Cottage for their care and support of Jake in his last years.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be given to the QL Trust fund. A private memorial service will be for family and close friends.