Wiens, Franz J. (1880-1942)

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Franz J. Wiens: an evangelist and foreign missionary of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church; was born on a farm near Henderson, Nebraska on 30 June 1880, son of Jacob and Maria (Friesen) Wiens (for more information on Franz’ family, see additional information).  John married Agnes Harder and they had five children.  John died in Reedley, California on 28 September 1942, and was buried in the local cemetery.

Converted at an early age, he joined the Henderson Mennonite Brethren Church through baptism. Feel­ing a call to foreign mission work, Wiens studied at the following schools: the German Department School of the MB Church at McPherson, Kansas; McPherson College at McPherson, Kansas; York (Nebraska) College; and the German Baptist Theologi­cal Seminary, Rochester, New York, where he grad­uated in 1906. He later received a B. A. degree from Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas.

In 1902 he married Agnes Harder. To them five children were born. In 1906-1909 Wiens was employed as evangelist by the MB Conference. In 1910 he was ordained as a missionary and left for China, stopping in Russia for several months, where he conducted remarkable revival meetings in Men­nonite circles. Upon arrival in South China in 1911 he spent some time at Swatow studying the Chinese language. The Wienses then proceeded about 200 miles inland and opened a mission among the Hakkas at Shanghang, Fukien Province. They erected the required buildings, made extensive tours into the field, opened a school for children, estab­lished a Bible school for training indigenous work­ers, and began a hospital. Several Chinese churches were established in the surrounding territory.

In 1919 the Mennonite Brethren General Conference took over the support and supervision of this mission, and sent new missionaries. The work expanded re­markably in spite of civil war and revolutions. At times the missionaries were in great danger and on one occasion had to flee to the coast. The mission station was destroyed during their absence, but the work continued. Agnes Wiens died in China in 1935. Some time later Wiens married Agnes Koop. In the summer of 1940 they returned to America, mak­ing their home at Reedley, California. Wiens wrote many reports for his church paper, the Zionsbote. His two longer publications are Pionierarbeit unter den Hakkas in Süd-China and Fifteen Years Among the Hakkas of South China.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006: #317229.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 536.

Additional Information

The parents of Franz were Jacob Wiens (9 October 1838, Sparrau, Molotschna, South Russia – 31 August 1902, Henderson, Nebraska, USA) and Maria (Friesen) Wiens (8 October 1841, Grossweide, Molotschna, South Russia – 14 July 1929, Reedley, California, USA). Franz was the tenth of twelve children.

Franz was married for the first time on 29 August 1902 to Agnes Harder (8 January 1883, Boone County, Nebraska – 9 June 1935, Swatow, China). She was the daughter of Martin Harder (24 August 1849, Schoenfeld, Schoenfeld, South Russia – 8 May 1924, Hillsboro, Kansas, USA) and Anna (Ediger) Harder (10 March 1863, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia – 2 July 1942, Reedley, California, USA). Franz was married for the second time on 3 July 1937 in Hong Kong to Agnes Koop (13 December 1892, Blumenort, Molotschna, South Russia – 1 October 1984). She was the daughter of Paul Koop.

Franz and his first wife Agnes had five children: Herbert, Adina, Herold, Linda, and Roland.

Author(s) John H. Lohrenz
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published December 2007

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MLA style

Lohrenz, John H. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Wiens, Franz J. (1880-1942)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2007. Web. 13 Apr 2021.,_Franz_J._(1880-1942)&oldid=146343.

APA style

Lohrenz, John H. and Richard D. Thiessen. (December 2007). Wiens, Franz J. (1880-1942). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 April 2021, from,_Franz_J._(1880-1942)&oldid=146343.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 948-949. All rights reserved.

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