Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peter J. Brashler (1912-1995), missionary with Africa Inland Mission -- honoring the 100th anniversary of his birth . . . Yoane Akudri (1898-1997), beloved African pastor . . . First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA

Peter and Edythe Brashler.

© John McMillan of McMillan Design, Inc. 
Gig Harbor, WA.
The 100th anniversary of the birth of Peter James Brashler took place October 4, 2012.

A tribute in his honor took place on October 21, 2012, at First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

I gave a 30-minute biographical presentation and various longtime members of FBC reminisced about Peter, his parents, siblings and Edythe, his wife of 55 years.

FBC was one of Dr. Brashler's supporting churches.

After 36 years (1940-76) serving with Africa Inland Mission in the Belgian Congo--later named Zaire (1971-97), today called the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)--Peter served as an Associate Pastor at FBC for 13 years (1978-91).

He died on February 2, 1995 (age 82). A plaque in his honor hangs in the foyer of FBC.

It was a wonderful night of inspirational missionary biography combined with African missions history, regional history (Snohomish County, WA) and local church history.

A.I.M. Est. 1895.
With his widowed wife Edythe (1915-2003) and adopted son Stephen (1953-1997) both deceased, and with no grandchildren, the lone public tribute to Peter was obscure and somber.

Yet to those present, it was a boost of encouragement to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ to the very end, knowing that the all-seeing God rewards faithful servants. "God will give to each person according to what he has done" (Romans 2:6). "Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free" (Ephesians 6:8).


Peter James Brashler (1912-1995)
Edythe L. (McKee) Brashler (1915-2003)
~ obituary and photo of Peter/Edythe's gravestone found here ~
Adopted son Stephen H. Brashler (1953-1997)
~ photo of Stephen's gravestone found here ~

Marysville Cemetery.
Marysville, Snohomish County, WA.
Marysville Cemetery.
Marysville, Snohomish County, WA.

October 4, 1912 - Peter born in Dexter, N.M., to South Holland, Cook County, IL, natives--and 640-acre N.M. homesteaders--William (1887-1968) and Gerrigje/Carrie (1887-1979) Brashler. Siblings eventually include brothers Clarence and Bill, and sisters Pauline and Jean.

November 29, 1915 - Edythe born in Park Rapids, Hubbard County, MN. Raised in Seattle and Everett, WA.

1916 - Brashler family (Peter age 4) moves to and operates a dairy farm in Arlington, WA. Joins maternal relatives who migrated to WA from IL.

Spring 1921 - Peter's parents convert to Christianity (Evangelical Protestant) through the efforts of an Irish evangelist holding meetings at the Gospel Hall in Arlington, WA (Plymouth Brethren church). (Peter's Dutch parents had grown up in the Calvinistic-based Christian Reformed Church.)

January 1922 - Peter (age 9) converts to Christianity (Evangelical Protestant) while attending the Gospel Hall in Arlington, WA (Plymouth Brethren church). Over time and through biblical studies, Peter inherits and accepts his parents' Calvinistic beliefs and its emphasis on the sovereignty of God.

1930's - During the Great Depression, Brashler family sells farm and moves to Everett, WA. Peter drops out of high school to help with family finances. Works his way up to manager of a grocery store. Meets his future wife Edythe at First Baptist Church of Everett where Edythe's Irish-American father (Dr. H. R. McKee) is pastor. Quits smoking.

1933 - Edythe graduates from Everett High School (WA).

1934(?) - Peter joins future wife Edythe as a student at Biola University in CA.

1937(?) - Peter and future wife Edythe sense a call to missionary service in Africa upon hearing Ralph Davis, the home director of the Africa Inland Mission, speak at Biola University's missionary conference. 

1937 - Edythe graduates from Biola University.

1938 - Peter graduates from Biola University. Ordained to the Gospel ministry.

Summer 1938 - With 6 others, Peter studies under Dr. Elbert McCreery at the Wycliffe Summer Institute of Linguistics at McCreery's rance in Estes Park, CO.

September 15, 1939 - Peter and Edythe marry at First Baptist Church of Everett, WA.

1939-40 - As W.W. II begins, Peter and Edythe's plans to go to Africa are delayed. Peter serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Lake Stevens, WA.

1940-76 - Peter (ages 28-64) and Edythe (ages 25-61) serve as missionaries with Africa Inland Mission, in Belgian Congo. Make at least 6 furlough trips (every 5-7 years) to USA, giving missionary reports to supporting churches, furthering their linguistic and other studies (Everett Community College, University of Washington), and Peter ministering as interim pastor and sometimes employed outside the church (yellow pages salesman, etc.).

February 15, 1953 - Adopted son Stephen is born in Everett, WA. Peter and Edythe take 1-year-old Stephen back to Africa with them.

1971(?) - Stephen graduates from Rift Valley Academy in Kenya.

1973 - In Bunia (city in northeast Zaire/DRC), Peter receives the prestigious National Order of the Leopard medal from Zaire's President/King Mobutu and General Victor Lundula. An honor accorded few white men, the medal is Zaire's highest military and civilian award (created May 24, 1966).

1978-91 - Peter serves as Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

Autobiography by Peter Brashler. 1979.
1979 - Peter writes autobiography Change: My Thirty-Five Years in Africa. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 215 pages.)

--> "This volume will delight your heart, inform your mind, and challenge your will to become involved with God in world evangelization."  From the Foreword by Peter Stam, Africa Inland Mission.

Spring 1981 - Peter serves as Zaire's Pastor Yoane Akudri (1898-1997) western U.S. interpreter during Akudri's 3rd and last speaking tour in the U.S. (Other tours were in 1970 and 1975, the 65th and 70th anniversaries of the Africa Inland Mission.) A friend and former student of Peter's, the 82-year-old Akudri ends his final U.S. tour by preaching on Mother's Day at First Baptist Church of Marysville, WA.

Biography of a beloved African pastor. 1990.
1990 - After a trip to Zaire for research purposes (first and only trip to his former mission field), Peter writes the biography Akudri: The True Story of Yoane Akudri (1898-1997). (Marysville, WA: Cascade Publishing, 239 pages.)

--> "Yoane Akudri's life is not unlike that of David Livingstone [1813-1873], or of Hudson Taylor [1832-1905]. There are humorous situations that will keep the reader awake, and also challenging situations that will attract younger and older people to commit their lives to Christ."  From book's back cover.

--> "Most so-called 'missionary' books see life in a developing country through the eyes of the foreigner. It is refreshing to read a biography, which includes much missionary endeavor, seen through the eyes of an African--an African of giant spiritual stature, yet so humble that he is glad to acknowledge his personal, and his national church's, debt to the foreign missionary, despite all the mistakes we have made."
From the Foreword by Dr. Helen Roseveare, WEC International.

1991 - Peter suffers a massive stroke.

February 2, 1995 - Peter dies (age 82) in Everett, WA. Buried in Marysville Cemetery (Section B, North) in Marysville, WA. After 55 years of marriage, wife Edythe becomes a widow.

December 1, 1997 - Adopted son Stephen dies (age 44). Buried in Marysville Cemetery (Section B, North) in Marysville, WA.

March 1, 2003 - Edythe dies (age 87) in Everett, WA. Buried alongside Peter in Marysville Cemetery (Section B, North) in Marysville, WA. "Edythe continued her witness for Christ to her very last day." (Edythe's obituary and picture of Peter/Edythe's gravestone found here.)

Congo church service. 1960.

"Rev. Peter Brashler and family return home after spending 19 years in Belgian Congo."
Marysville Globe (Marysville, WA). Thursday. June 11, 1959.