Praying through the decades

May 1, 2019 | Web First
Karla Braun | Mennonite World Conference
A Sunday school assignment began a Canadian woman’s lifelong investment in prayer. (congerdesign/Pixabay)

A Sunday school assignment in the 1940s to exchange letters with a missionary began a Canadian woman’s lifelong investment in prayer for India.


Erla Buehler. (Photo courtesy of MWC)

Erla Buehler was a teenager when a Sunday school teacher at Elmira Mennonite Church in Ontario assigned her to write to Lena Graber, a registered nurse from Iowa, USA. Graber was serving with what is now called Mennonite Mission Network at Dhamtari Christian Hospital in India.

“Thus began my interest in India,” Buehler writes in a letter to Mennonite World Conference. “That spark continued to grow into a flame.”

At Ontario Mennonite Bible School in the 1950s, Buehler’s interest grew as she learned about William Carey and the missionary movement.

Her dream to visit India came true in 1997 when her niece’s Indian-born husband led a tour to the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Kolkata.

Listening to speakers on the theme “Hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” was “inspiring, uplifting, wonderful.”

The group visited the Mennonite Central Committee centre and an orphanage project.

Call for volunteers


Lena Graber. (Photo courtesy of MWC)

“We were also privileged to be billeted in private homes,” Buehler writes. “It still amazes me how the Holy Spirit was active in putting this all together.”

When she returned home, Buehler tracked down Graber and resumed correspondence.

She praised God to learn of Graber’s work starting nursing schools in India and Nepal where she was one of the first Mennonite Board of Missions workers.

Today, Buehler learns of the church’s work through the MWC Prayer Network email.

By special request, she receives it every two months mailed to her in hard copy.

“All these years and still there is a marvellous network of faithful praying believers building the kingdom of God.”

This 88 year-old continues to be part of it.

Learn more about the MWC Prayer Network at mwc-cmm.org/prayernetwork.

A Sunday school assignment began a Canadian woman’s lifelong investment in prayer. (congerdesign/Pixabay)

Share this page:

Add new comment

Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names (first and last) are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited. They will not appear online until approved and will be posted during business hours. Some comments may be reproduced in print.