Friesen, Maria Martens (1861-1917)

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Born 15 June 1861 in Blumenort-Blumenau, Molotschna Colony, Russia, Maria and her husband Abraham Johann Friesen were the first Mennonite Brethren foreign missionaries. They served for 19 years in India. From 1885 to 1889 Maria studied "women's work" at Hamburg Baptist Seminary in Germany. Following a year of language training in Madras, the Friesens moved to Nalgonda, India, in October 1890. They worked under the "American Baptist Missionary Union," though financially supported by the Russian Mennonite Brethren Churches. In 1891 they baptized 178 converts and founded an indigenous congregation. At the time of their first furlough, 1897-99, the Nalgonda congregation numbered 700 baptized members. Maria and Abraham returned to India in 1899 with additional missionaries. Maria's ill health forced them to return to Russia in 1908 by which time the Indian Mennonite Brethren churches numbered 3,000 baptized members. Both remained active in promoting mission work. Maria died 19 April 1917 in Spat, in the Crimea, Russia. She and her husband had two adopted children.


Friesen, Peter M. The Mennonite Brotherhood in Russia (1789-1910), trans. J. B. Toews and others. Fresno, CA: Board of Christian Literature [M.B.], 1978, rev. ed. 1980: 674-87.

Peters, G. W. The Growth of Foreign Missions in the Mennonite Brethren Church. Hillsboro: Board of Foreign Missions, 1952: 55-69.

Kroeker, Abrabam. Nachrichten des Volksfreund. 13 May 1917: 4.

Reddig, Ken. "Trailblazers of Mennonite Bretbren Missions." Mennonite Brethren Herald 23 (27 July 1984): 18-19.

Author(s) Ken Reddig
Date Published 1987

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MLA style

Reddig, Ken. "Friesen, Maria Martens (1861-1917)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 25 Jun 2018.,_Maria_Martens_(1861-1917)&oldid=122488.

APA style

Reddig, Ken. (1987). Friesen, Maria Martens (1861-1917). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 June 2018, from,_Maria_Martens_(1861-1917)&oldid=122488.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 312-313. All rights reserved.

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