Convención de las Iglesias Evangélicas de los Hermanos Lenguas

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1953 Article

The Lengua Indian Mission in the Paraguayan Chaco was considered by the Mennonite immigrants to the Chaco in 1932, two years after their arrival there. The project was, however, prevented for two years by the war between Paraguay and Bolivia. In 1935 a missionary association called Licht den Indianern was organized by 48 members of the various Mennonite groups (General Conference, Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, and Mennonite Brethren). The first missionaries sent to the field were Abraham Unger, Abraham and Anna Ratzlaff, and Gerhard and Katharina Giesbrecht. The first convert, Sepe Thama (i.e., a son), was baptized after ten years of work. In 1951 the congregation had 28 members, of whom 15 were baptized on 22 January 1950.

The language of the Lengua Indians was a very difficult one to learn; there was at first no written matter in the dialect used at the station. The language consisted of only 17 letters, the sounds of which included a peculiar lisp which was very difficult to acquire. Besides receiving spiritual service, the Indigenous were also encouraged to give up their nomadic way of life and make permanent settlements. The Catholic Church put no obstacles in the way of the work.

In 1946 the Mennonite Brethren Mission Board (Hillsboro, Kansas), by agreement with the missionary society, took over the Chaco Mission Field. The missionary society continued to serve as the representative of the Chaco Mennonites and shared in the operation of the Mission by counseling with the M.B. Board, also raising funds in Paraguay. However the administrative and financial responsibility remained in the hands of the North American Board, which furnished most of the finances. In 1949 the name of the Chaco Mission was officially changed to "Chaco Amerikanische Mennonitenbrüder Mission Licht den Indianern." (See Paraguay Mennonite Brethren Mission) -- GBG

1987 Article

Convención de las Iglesias Evangélicas de los Hermanos Lenguas (Conference of the Evangelical Churches of the Lengua Brethren) Interest in mission work was present among the immigrants to the Chaco region in 1930 from the beginning, but delayed by the Chaco War until 1935. In September of that year a mission organization named Licht den Indianern (Light to the Indians) was founded. Members of the three conferences represented among the immigrants were free to join this organization, although initially much leadership came from Mennonite Brethren. Missionary activity began immediately on a site selected for that purpose, with primary concentration on food production and language study. For people who were themselves struggling for their very existence and who lacked missionary experience, this was a difficult period.

Nevertheless, the work continued, and in February 1946 the first seven Lengua Christians were baptized. Others soon followed, and a congregation was organized. As missionary work spread to other Indian settlements, new congregations arose there also. Indian agricultural settlements began in 1953. In those locations native leadership took the initiative, with the support of the missionaries. By 1978 these congregations were led to found the Convención, which consisted of 1,400 members in six congregations in 1986. Lengua leaders take full responsibility for their congregational life. The role of the missionary is to counsel in difficult situations, to help with Sunday schools, youth work, women's work, choirs and singing, special courses for congregational workers, etc. All of this is done in closest cooperation with Lengua congregational leadership. -- SSchär


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 617 f.

Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 249-250.

Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 94.

Survey of the Mission Fields of the Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America Located in India, Africa, Brazil, Paraguay, and Colombia, made by A. E. Janzen, Executive Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Foreign Missions During December 1948 to June 10, 1949. Hillsboro, KS, April 1950: 86-116.

Author(s) Gerhard B. Giesbrecht
Sieghard Schärtner
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Giesbrecht, Gerhard B. and Sieghard Schärtner. "Convención de las Iglesias Evangélicas de los Hermanos Lenguas." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 29 Sep 2023.

APA style

Giesbrecht, Gerhard B. and Sieghard Schärtner. (1987). Convención de las Iglesias Evangélicas de los Hermanos Lenguas. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 September 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 322, v. 5, p. 202. All rights reserved.

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