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Abe Rempel: Gifted with vision: October 3, 1931 to March 21, 2009


April 28, 2009
- From reports

WINNIPEG, Man. — Abe Rempel may have been colour-blind, but that didn't affect his insight. Through his roles as pastor, teacher, real estate agent, mentor and friend, and with his wife Hanna, Abe dedicated his life to serving God wherever he was - in Manitoba, Mexico or Indiana.

Abram Enns Rempel died peacefully in Winnipeg on March 21, 2009, at the age of 77. His funeral, attended by over 350 family members and friends - including representatives of the Mennonite Church in Mexico whom Abe served in two international assignments. The celebration of his life took place at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg on March 26, 2009.

In a tribute to his father, Eric Rempel said that Abe got along well despite his colour blindness. He managed to read traffic lights, and keenly developed his vision for detecting and encouraging gifts in his Christian brothers and sisters.

Born on October 3, 1931, in Oak Lake, Manitoba, Abe grew up on the family farm. During his early years, Oak Lake church services - full-day events held in the homes of its members - instilled him with a life-long love for the church. He was baptized at Steinbach Mennonite Church and it was there that he met his future bride, Hanna Vogt. Their family grew to include four sons, Eric, Ed, Ernie, and Jonathan, who died as an infant in 1970.

Although Abe dropped out of school after Grade 9 to work on the family farm, education remained important to him. He went on to study at Elim Bible School (Altona), Steinbach Collegiate Institute, Normal School (for teachers) in Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, and Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart).

The Rempels served in Mexico for two separate terms (1961-63 and 1991-98) with the General Conference's Commission on Overseas Mission (COM), since succeeded by Witness in Mennonite Church Canada. These experiences significantly shaped their lives and formed friendships which Hanna says continue to this day. Abe helped to create a school and church, pastored at the Steinreich Mennonite Church, mentored young pastors, and taught at the Steinreich Bible School, where enrolment grew from just a handful of local students to 70 students from across North America.

In Winnipeg, Abe was lead pastor at North Kildonan Mennonite Church for 11 years and then, while selling real estate part-time, he pastored at Northdale Mennonite Fellowship, a congregation which later became the Jubilee Mennonite Church.

"He was a wise and knowledgeable teacher and church council member and as such, helped guide the church through formative years," said Mary Funk, family friend and a member of Northdale/Jubilee. "We pray that the spirit in which he served will continue to influence us."

The Rempels returned to Winnipeg in 1998 to spend more time with their family.

Abe is lovingly remembered by his wife Hanna (Vogt), sons Eric (Lily), Ed (Ann) and Ernie (Debbie), grandchildren Mark Rempel, Dana (Steve) Sawatzky, Shanelle Rempel and Cassidy Rempel, mother Justina Rempel, brothers George (Marie), Henry (Grace), and Dave (Eva), and sisters Marie (Lorne) Friesen and Anne (John) Neufeld, many nieces, nephews and numerous friends.