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July 1984 · Vol. 13 No. 3 · pp. 4–15 

Waldo Hiebert: Journey into Joy

Phyllis Martens

“My childhood,” wrote Waldo Hiebert, “was not very happy.” A biographer soon discovers that for this man the journey forward entailed, first and inescapably, a journey back. Like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, who found that to reach her goal she had to walk the opposite way, he could move toward his future, however intensely sought, only by recycling, overcoming, or forsaking his past. Thus past and future tugged on him with equal force.

Waldo Hiebert was born to N.N. and Susie Hiebert in 1914, the eighth of twelve children, a twin to Lando. The family grew up on a farm in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. The children worked in the dairy after school to help earn a scanty living—Waldo recalls trudging to town pulling a small wagon loaded with milk cans. Father, of course, was away preaching most of the time. N.N. Hiebert was much in demand throughout Canada and the United States as an intelligent, deeply committed man of God. He was also the first foreign missionary ever to be sent out (to India) by the U.S. Conference. To this day Waldo remembers his dad as wearing a black top hat and coat, carrying a suitcase, in the train depot either leaving or arriving.

It was no doubt expected that the six Hiebert boys would become leaders like their father. Waldo’s twin Lando did in fact earn a doctor’s degree to teach in Grace Bible Institute and Tabor College; John became a missionary to India; Sam became a chaplain in the U.S. Army; Alvin was appointed to a very important government position; Clyde helped lay the transatlantic cable; and even one of the girls, Annie, took up a profession, nursing. Waldo’s future seemed inescapable—he too must be a leader.

The trouble was, he did not feel equal to the call. He wrote later, “My twin brother was better in school than I was, and since high school he was always two years ahead of me. . . . Also I have older brothers and sisters who were A students and more capable. This gave me a deep feeling of inferiority and inadequacy.” Elsewhere he wrote:

“You can’t make it.” It seems that I heard it everywhere. One Monday morning my father took my twin brother and me to the public school as transfers from the Christian school, I was put into grade 6 and my twin was put into grade 7. I heard father and the principal have a little chat {5} about that in the hall, but I was never told why. But I have a good guess! Nevertheless it hurt, because I “was not making it!”

In manual training (woodworking) class I was repeatedly slapped on my hands because I couldn’t build a decent bird house. So, I gave up on carpentry!

. . . Then there was mother and father. With mother I felt warm and OK. With father? Ambivalent. He loved me dearly, I had no doubt about that. But I wasn’t really doing well enough for him. Nor did I do assigned work “quickly” enough. He would often say to us: “Schwind, schwind” (quick, quick!). I often longed for my father to say to me—at least once, “Well done, my son.” That would have been music to my ear, and joy for my soul—from “Journey into Joy.”

A professor at Bethel College reportedly once said to him, “Lando got the brains, you got the legs.” (Waldo was one of the tallest of the Hiebert boys.)

Nevertheless, young Waldo began obediently to study. So diligently and seriously did he study that over the years he racked up an impressive list of academic accomplishments: graduated from Willamette University in Oregon and from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, did graduate work in Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Forth Worth, took classes in Claremont School of Theology and Fuller and Golden seminaries. He became pastor of the two largest churches in the U.S. Conference, moderator of the Southern District Conference, chairman of the Board of General Welfare and Public Relations and of the Board of Missions, member of numerous conference boards and committees, including the prestigious Board of Reference and Counsel (of which he is still a member), and of the Executive Board of MCC. He wrote articles and collaborated on three books. In 1972 Tabor College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in recognition of his wide range of church ministries. And so, no less than his brothers, Waldo became a leader. The younger son came through.

Characteristically, his achievements never quite satisfied Waldo, now Dr. Hiebert. His array of positions and accomplishments impressed everyone but himself. Being an honest man, he refused to measure himself by these things or use them to create an artificial stature for himself. His worth, he felt, must be sought elsewhere, in himself as a human being and in his relationship to God.

But therein lay another problem. How could he “make it” with God? The traditions of the past lay heavy upon him. With father a conference {6} minister and his upbringing in those two conservative Mennonite Brethren centers, Mountain Lake and Hillsboro, young Waldo was submerged in “religion.” He later wrote, “Our home was very religious and somewhat legalistic.” In a recent document he identifies the voices which ran in the background, like endless tape recordings:

    1. “Don’t laugh too much.” “Nach dem Lachen kommt das Weinen (after the laughter comes the crying).” He remembers his father pounding against the ceiling with a broomstick: “Not so much laughing boys.”
    2. “The deacons are coming.” He was afraid they would interrogate, find out who wasn’t praying enough.
    3. “For such a worm as I.” He goes on, “Such phrases and many other religious experiences made me feel worthless. . . . The dreadfulness of total depravity and the sinfulness of man was clearly taught and emphasized. But grace did not come through very well. The message of the church was more bad news than good news.”
    4. “Keep away from the world.” He obeyed. “We avoided worldly activities, and we often stuck out like sore thumbs with deep embarrassment. . . . We did not go to high school basketball games. If we did a church meeting was called. . . . I learned to shun the world, not to love it into the kingdom.”

It was a time when many things were suspect—the “English” high school, the county fair, saluting the flag. Waldo remembers crossing the street to avoid passing by the pool hall.

The result of all this was that “the church at that time was to me both a friend and an enemy—I loved it but I also was afraid of it.” Two people, he remembers, kept him in the church: an elder-deacon who regularly put his big, warm hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “We love you, Waldo. How is it going?” and a Sunday School teacher who spent extra hours trying to be close to his junior high boys.

Though the legalism of the times coupled with a natural disposition to melancholy gave Waldo’s early religious experience a sour taste, he did not dismiss the church as a viable entity or forsake it to make a secular career for himself, as did some. Instead he set himself to find truth. He writes, “I have since childhood tried to find my own religious identity and a real faith.” He remained true to his calling as a Christian and later a minister, and struggled with the implications.

To search out a way to freedom and the joy he felt must exist somewhere in the Christian faith, he together with his wife Rachel attended seminars: Faith at Work Leadership Training Institute, Bill {7} Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts, Yokefellows at Burlingame with Cecil Osborne, Agnes Sanford’s School of Pastoral Care, a retreat sponsored by the Old Mennonites with Mary Cosby and Brother Alex, seminars on healing, the Holy Spirit, prayer.

Help came. A few years ago he wrote, “I am now able, in part, to overcome ‘hangups’ and be a freer person, making my own religious decisions.” And, “While I grew up amidst heavy traditions, I do not feel much bound by them.” In a sermon at the 1981 Pacific District Conference he exclaimed, “I’m off of this legal stuff!” In “Journey into Joy,” a testimonial written in 1983, he declared: “Now I want to bring some kind of closure to the past . . . I want to cast all regrets, disappointment, failures, unrealized ambitions into the arms of Jesus, where there is total healing and forgiveness. Then I can begin again. . . .”

The voices he is now listening to have different messages:

  1. “There is more to be had.” “My glowing moments,” he says, “are moments of trust and quiet commitment.”
  2. “A positive attitude to life is possible.” Instead of “Hang on, maybe you will make it,” the word is “Rejoice and be exceeding glad!”
  3. “Giving affirmation, love and acceptance brings joy.” Giving love and praise instead of seeking them is the way to lose one’s life in order to find it: “This is a major turnabout for me.”
  4. “More praise and thanksgiving belong to my journey into joy.” This is a change. “I used to think seeing the dark side was more ‘spiritual’. My new journey is leading me to begin looking at my problems more positively. . . . God desires my good, not my destruction.”

“Journey into Joy”

He concludes, “In simple words, Jesus is a winner; and so am I!”

So, though at times he may still feel with Charlie Brown, “I’m still hoping that yesterday will get better,” basically Dr. Hiebert has been able to move out of the past into the future of freedom he has persistently sought.

When it came to the choice of a life work, he found himself again in tension. He was constantly pulled two ways, the choice being between preaching and teaching. Time and again he struggled: which way should he go? He shuttled back and forth as if on a commuter train equally drawn to two opposing terminals. He pastored in Janzen, Nebraska; taught in Tabor College and then in Fernheim, Paraguay; {8} pastored the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church; taught at the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (MBBS); pastored the Reedley church; became dean of students and associate professor at MBBS.

For a 1978 discernment session at the seminary he wrote, “My major interest is in churchmanship—Gemeindezucht.” But he also wrote, “I like the work I am now doing at the seminary . . . I am happy where I am.” Part of the problem with teaching was a sense of insecurity. “I do wish that I had had the discipline and opportunity to do the professional academic doctor’s degree, which I feel would have qualified me better for my task.”

As it turned out, his life so far has been nearly equally divided between the two: 25 years teaching, 16 years pastoring, with a great deal of preaching done during the teaching years.

A closer look, however, shows that the distinction between the two is not so great. Waldo is a pastoring teacher, and a teaching pastor. As Dean of students at the seminary he has been responsible for bringing to campus such speakers on the spiritual life as Stan Jones of Faith at Work, Bruce Larson, Richard Foster, Dorothy Donnelly, Lloyd Ogilvie, Ray Stedman, and David Augsburger. His constant concern is for the spiritual flow on campus. His warm and loving, deeply committed spirit is felt in the chapels he conducts, especially when he leads the Lord’s Supper. Elmer Martens, president of the seminary, writes:

Professor Waldo Hiebert’s contribution to the Seminary is on the order of spiritual care (Seelsorge). He virtually impersonates sensitivity to people’s needs. He works as a healer of spiritual hurts. More than that. Through his courses on spirituality in recent years he has come for many to be a spiritual director—to work towards growth and spiritual maturity by way of processes that assist with spiritual formation.

If others are the brain of the campus, Waldo is the heart. His presence has a vital quality. A senior student states,

Waldo Hiebert is steady, supportive, unruffled. He has a sly sense of when to push a searching question on a student to get the student to think more deeply about whether the spiritual pilgrimage is keeping pace with academic progress. He is the type of person you want to have with you in a family emergency or a theological crisis experience.

He has been, one might say, a long-term pastor in residence.

The pastor on campus is also the teacher in the pulpit. Dr. Hiebert conceives of the pastor as a teacher, rather than an administrator or orator. For Called to Teach, a book by the seminary faculty, he wrote {9} a chapter entitled “The Pastor as Teacher”:

The pastor is a teacher. . . . This is the very nature of his work. . . . While the pastor has many duties, teaching is a primary one. This priority he must always protect, and guard against the many pressures of the ministry. Teaching is his “blessed burden,” his first and blessed task (p. 95).

As always, Dr. Hiebert does what he says. His sermons are certainly teaching sermons, designed to lead his audience step by step, simply, from the known to the as yet unknown, i.e. the fuller life in God. He is not a professional academician or analyst and never the pulpit-pounder. At no time does he hint at being more clever or more spiritual than his listeners. He is always a fellow-traveler, one caught in the same binds and hurts as his audience, earnestly sharing what has been given him by the grace of God. A member of the Clovis Community Church (Fresno) where he preached for some time, wrote: “Those who have heard him preach are aware not only of the Biblical truths presented in a simple manner but also of the personal warmth and presence of the speaker. He cares about others, and it shows when he speaks” (Wilfred Martens, Christian Leader, April 27, 1976). In a very real sense Waldo Hiebert is his sermon.

His humility is transparent. Speaking or writing, he never hesitates to mention his own inner needs or failures. Addressing the Pacific District Conference on prayer in the early church he said, “Peter was in prison. Maybe I am in that kind of prison.” A two-page document explaining the Hieberts’ move from the Clovis to the Fig Garden church in Fresno characteristically ends with a confession: “There have been many times when I should have spoken out more forthrightly, led more aggressively. . . . I have not done all I could have and should have.”

The wonder is that out of this preacher’s humility and long struggle are conveyed comfort, and uplifting strength and vitality, the sense of a very real bond between speaker, listener, and God.

For in spite of his humility, Dr. Hiebert’s voice from the pulpit is authoritative. It is a clear voice, forceful, unhesitant, warm and completely sincere, a voice that people everywhere gladly listen to. He has twice been asked to give the major address at a Mennonite World Conference (Kitchener, 1963; Wichita, 1978). As one of the most highly regarded ministers in the United States conference, he has been invited to speak at many conference sessions, seminars, ordinations and festivals. He is believed and trusted; his words are accepted as informed with spiritual wisdom.

Waldo Hiebert’s lifestyle exhibits one more tension or polarity: the seeking of solitude to strengthen the inner life, as opposed to the desire to be with other people, either to learn or to serve. He entitled the first {10} of a series of messages to the 1981 Pacific District Conference “Living from an Inner Center.” This center, he said, is indispensable to spiritual growth. It is marked by silence and solitude and is incompatible with our modern pre-occupation with noise and busyness. It is a place of unhurried communion with God, a place where one can “strip away layers of false selves” and be real. Elsewhere he wrote, “I believe strongly in the freedom of the individual and the importance for everyone to become an authentic person.” For Waldo, authenticity is found within, in that deep silent inner center. Authenticity is especially important for the minister, he feels: “The church leader requires a great deal of inner poise and authenticity, otherwise he is in trouble.” And from “Journey into Joy:” “Wait—and wait on the Lord. Do not be in a hurry! Not “Schwind” (quick)! . . . Waiting for His time, praying and praising—calms my spirit.” One of his “stations” on the journey into joy was a silent retreat at Bass Lake with a seminary group—24 hours of silence and meditation, the purpose of which was a fresh experience with God. For him, the search for autonomy and the search for God’s renewing seem to be one and the same search.

At the same time Dr. Hiebert writes, “The journey into joy is not a private affair; it leads me ever and again into the fold of the Christian community. I don’t travel alone.” The role of people in his life, especially small groups of Christians, can hardly be overstated. His best learning seems to take place in small groups. In addition to the Faith at Work and other seminars already mentioned, Waldo and Rachel have for many years been members of a series of small sharing groups.

His work has taken him into the lives of thousands of people: large congregations in Hillsboro and Reedley, classrooms full of students, the colonists of Paraguay, Mennonite Central Committee personnel, numerous boards and committees of the Mennonite Brethren conferences. Waldo Hiebert is known in Canada, the United States, South America, Europe, India, and Africa (the latter two because of trips made under our mission board). He is a private person with a very public ministry.

Of his work on boards a long-time colleague said, “At board meetings he would sit and listen, then at the crucial moment he would point out things with wisdom and perception. He is very sensitive—he perceives directions and tensions long before they come to the surface. His conclusions carry weight.”

His strong suit, however, is not aggressive leadership so much as the one-to-one sharing which touches the inner life. His commitment to be involved deeply in the lives of people has made him a willing visitor to the homes of his congregation. He and Rachel have visited hundreds of homes, and had hundreds of people in their own home. Though his training in counseling was never completed, he has a {11} natural bent for counseling. His mild manner and a real gift of wisdom cause him to be sought out by people in trouble.

His sensitivity to needs caused him, together with Rachel, to start classes for a group until then somewhat overlooked on the seminary campus, the women of the seminary community. These classes are always tailored to the needs of those attending: “The Pastor’s Wife,” “The Caring Ministry,” “The Place of Women in the Church.” Thus, while their husbands were in training, the women were encouraged to take their own roles seriously.

With his family Waldo is gentle, low-key, deeply devoted. His son Ted is a professor of Old Testament at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota; James is a highly praised professor of mathematics at the University of Delaware in Newark; Susan is a reading specialist residing with her husband Mike Bercilla in Irvine, CA. His wife Rachel is a trained librarian and archivist presently retiring.

Waldo often turns to Rachel to hear her wisdom on a subject. The two discuss affairs great and small over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. Her occasional absences are no blessing to him. He wrote to his family, “Rachel returned last night from a week in Winnipeg. Glad it wasn’t longer, because I get somewhat unglued when she is gone.”

Then there is Danny, the Downs Syndrome child. The nature of Waldo’s relationship with God is perhaps nowhere seen as clearly as in his reaction to the birth of Danny. In an unpublished story he tells of his struggle: how should he tell Rachel? the children? the congregation? what did God mean by this birth? would He consent to heal Danny? would Danny consent to live at Good Shepherd? Above all, what was God trying to teach him, the father? Waldo did not feel anger, guilt or bitterness. When he first learned the news of the baby’s problem he experienced, instead of anxiety, a “holy hush, a quest for the meaning of this birth. . . . It was not an argument with God questioning why this should happen to us; it was rather the sudden weight of a vast unknown that beset me that morning.” He dubbed little Danny a “servant of the Most High,” for through this child the family grew closer in love and acceptance—of him, of each other, of all who struggled with family difficulties.

On the day they drove Danny to his present residence, the Good Shepherd Lutheran Home in Porterville, California, Waldo asked himself again, had the lessons he needed to learn through Danny been truly learned? This retarded child had become part of his own search for God’s way.

Where have Waldo Hiebert’s seventy years of coping with opposites and tensions taken him? The word “new” is a key word in his present vocabulary. “I have to start in a new way.” “I’m very tired of {12} old forms—traditional ruts that leave us joyless and fruitless,” he told the Pacific District Conference. In his testimonial he wrote, “I can begin again . . . ‘Behold I make all things new . . . Now I declare new things.’ ” He likes Thomas Merton’s idea that “Christians are always beginners.” For him, “new” means new directions, new agendas and lifestyles, freedom from the past.

A second key word is “joy.” He entitles his seven-page testimonial “Journey into Joy:” “My new journey into joy had begun.” The testimonial describes five “stations” or experiences which helped him move out of the ruts of the past into a new future of praise. His idea of joy goes much beyond simply turning off that old tape: “Don’t laugh, boys.” He is thinking of a deep, unshakeable security and peace, a spontaneous happiness because he is okay with God, and God is doing good things in the world.

These words show up again and again in his discussions of the church. Musing about the 1978 Mennonite World Conference in Wichita he remarked, “There’s more joy here in this meeting than in the past—it’s an emerging church; I see a new spirit and life coming.” In his major address to that same conference he said, in essence, “The church has a new agenda for the future. Stop groveling in the past, behind the traditional walls you have drawn up to keep you safe and secure. The lessons of our history point to Jesus, the new agenda. The glorious days of the church are not past, but ahead.” He likes to preach about subjects like “God does a New Thing” and “New Beginnings.”

That his vision for the church parallels his own personal spiritual development becomes rather clear as one looks over his sermons and writings. First, there is a change from outwardness, or following accepted modes, to an inwardness, as suggested by his sermon titles over the years. Early in his ministry he tended to speak to the needs of the church or the congregation in traditional terms:

  • The Christian and the World (Ephesians 4)
  • The Church Becoming (a series of three) (Acts 13; 1 Cor. 4:1; 1 Cor. 3:10-15)
  • Church leadership (2 Tim. 2:2)
  • Inroads of Worldiness into Our Churches (Ephesians 4)
  • Brotherhood and Leadership (Ephesians 4)
  • Servant Leadership (Matthew 23)

His published articles followed the same pattern: “Change in the Church?” “A Call for Renewal in the Mennonite Brethren Church,” “Church Leadership in Trouble,” “A New Breed of Ministers,” “What’s Happening to the Deacons?” “How to Choose and Terminate a Pastor” (to name a few titles). The books on which Dr. Hiebert has collaborated have to do with church function: Deacons and Their Ministry, Mennonite {13} Brethren Minister’s Manual and Together in My Name (a manual for Christian weddings).

More recently many sermons speak about the more personal inner life and the idea of new things:

  • New Life Is a Personal Choice
  • Realizing Dreams
  • New Beginnings
  • Released to Minister
  • Roads to Renewal: Acceptance, Submission, Discipline

The division is, of course, not clear-cut. Several early sermons are already entitled “New Frontiers: a New Age for the Church” and “A New Model.”

Second, there is his emphasis on the ministry of the church as effective only when it flows out of a clarified identity and closeness with her Lord. The inner center is all-important; ministry to people comes next.

Dr. Hiebert distrusts the concept of the church as establishment or institution as inimical to the newness of life he so desires. In a study paper for the Buhler conference of 1970 he wrote:

We now reject the image of a ministry that is colorless, defensive, feminine, lazy, uncreative, bound to status quo position and status consciousness. We embrace, rather, the New Testament image of the minister who is call-conscious, flexible and open to the stream of the Spirit, disciplined in body and spirit, honest, relevant, unapologetic, fearless and compassionate. We reject the view of the church as being only structure, establishment, status quo, program, bound by tradition, and totally irrelevant. We embrace, rather, the New Testament view of the church as a new life center where loving souls gather freely and gladly to share the dynamic Word, spontaneously and creatively involving themselves with compassion in the lives of people in the community. We revere the church as the ongoing life and breath of Christ in the world.

He said, speaking of the disciples, “It is not an organization they are to promote. It is rather to be a personal witness to Christ that is most important.” In his address to the Wichita conference, entitled “One Greater than Menno,” he said; “it is not possible to identify Mennonites by merely identifying them with Menno Simons. For a proper identification of the Mennonites we must speak of Jesus, the Savior and Lord of the church. We are more than Menno people, we are indeed a people of God.” Traditions, denominational identifications, programs and buildings carry far less weight for him than the one simple fact of the living Lord. He told the large audience at the Kitchener World Conference, “I do not ask, have we a great tradition? . . . a beautiful sanctuary? . . . {14} a paid ministry and professional workers? . . . a large membership? I simply ask, is there glory in the church?” This glory, he says, “rests not so much in the body as in the head of the church—our Lord.” Glory exists when broken hearts are redeemed and healed, when barriers are broken down, when Christians have a strong sense of mission. Renewal will come if Christians “turn life loose and let the Lord be Lord!”

He also distrusts activity as a measure of spirituality. Busyness, he told the Pacific District Conference, may just be a way of making ourselves feel more important, or be a sign that we are capitulating to too many irrelevant demands. He referred his audience to Presbyterian pastor Eugene Peterson’s book The Unbusy Pastor. His favorite quotation is A.W. Tozer’s statement that if the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church, 90% of the work would still go on. He quotes from J.B. Philipps’ introduction to his translation of the New Testament: “These men did not make acts of faith, they believed; they did not say their prayers, they prayed. They did not hold conferences on psychosomatic medicines, they simply healed the sick.”

Dr. Hiebert’s antidote to dryness, directionlessness and powerlessness is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In an address to the General Conference in Buhler, 1978, entitled “Priorities in Mission,” he said, “One clear priority for doing His ministry is the fullness of the Spirit.” In the same address he said:

But it is most evident that it was Pentecost that made the difference for the disciples.

  • a new light will shine in their eyes
  • a new tone will come into their voices
  • a new boldness will come out
  • a new atmosphere will be generated
  • a new joy and peace will flood their lives

They will be the same people, but greatly changed!

It is not hard to see here Waldo Hiebert’s longings for himself as well as for the church.

Once the inner center of power is established, the church has a duty to the world. “A living church will be engaged always in a global ministry,” he told the Pacific District delegates. “Prayer is not a personal pietistic exercise for self-improvement but absorption into the will of God and his movements in the world.” He remembers the time his father, seeing the local school superintendent (possibly not a Christian) walk into church, invited him to the platform in a gesture of inclusion. “Exclusiveness is a basic betrayal of Christ,” N.N. Hiebert’s son said many years later.

Because of his belief that a renewed inner center will overflow in {15} service to a broken world, Dr. Hiebert ends many sermons with a call for action: a time of meditation, words spoken to others, specific committal. During four sessions on prayer he told the Pacific District Conference, “I want to push you relentlessly for a decision.” What decision? Basically, an unalterable commitment to God. “The central thing in prayer is not the garden of the soul but the altar of dedication, and blessed are those who ascend its steps in the nakedness of faith, giving all for all and asking nothing in return save that the will of God will be fulfilled in them.”

All this considered, is it the sermons he has preached, the words he has written, that constitute Waldo Hiebert’s contribution to the Mennonite Brethren? Not exactly. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Any assessment of Dr. Hiebert’s contribution—and this is true of him more than most—must include the living presence of the man himself. A conference leader recently said of him, “Waldo’s impact has been in personifying the basic ideas and values to which he gave his life in ministry—what he says and writes has the strong affirmation of what he is. His strength is this combination of word with life. Waldo is unique.” It is Waldo himself, not his words, that people will remember—his unassertive approach, warm handshake and hug, his silences, his earnestness and humility.

Waldo’s journey has in no wise ended. Last year he taught a new course on campus entitled “Spiritual Formation”; it deals with the spiritual pilgrimage of each class member and leads into sharing on a broad basis. In the spring of this year he brought to a faculty meeting a proposal for “Pastoral Renewal Retreats” to be sponsored by the Seminary: weekends for pastoral couples at some quiet spot in which the small group would meditate, pray, study the Scriptures and share with each other in the quest for personal renewal. He hopes that the first of these retreats will take place in 1986. Should his plan succeed, the man who “couldn’t make it” will have become the guru, the wise leader, of our next generation of pastors.

Perhaps the best summary of Dr. Hiebert is his own statement about Menno Simons: “Menno was an ardent believer. He formed a simple theology with Christ at the center.” It would be valid to say that Waldo Hiebert, the younger son with fewer talents, has “made it,” not because he steadfastly sought, but because it was the Lord he sought.

Because he has set his love upon Me,
therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high,
because he has known My name.
Psalm 91:14

Phyllis Martens is a teacher of English, author of several books and niece of Waldo Hiebert.

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