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No retirement in God’s mission

Ninety-year-old Bible translator continues to put faith into action

June 2, 2018

In January 2018, East Gambella Bethel Synod leaders discuss pastor training with retired PC(USA) mission co-worker and Bible translator Niles Reimer (center), who served for many years as a teacher and Bible translator in the synod and continues to make periodic visits to Ethiopia to study Scripture with his friends in Gambella. (Photo provided by Ogatu Ojulu)

The Rev. Dr. Niles Reimer is an unassuming presence in any setting, and that’s the way he likes it. For 90-year-old Reimer, a return visit in January to a town in Ethiopia was the chance to see dear friends and make new memories with generations of young Christians. His many contributions include translating the Anywaa Bible, which made it possible for the Anywaa people to read the Scriptures in their own language.

Reimer and his late wife, Ann, served as PC(USA) mission co-workers for more than 40 years, so his visits to the town, Gambella, are deeply personal. His visits honor the relationships he built and his desire to “be in this setting with people who are my friends, sharing times of Bible reading and reflections.”

For his 2018 visit to teach pastors and evangelists, Reimer was scheduled to be with his son, Dr. Mark Reimer, as well as Dr. Carroll Loomis, a Presbyterian mission colleague from his service years in Ethiopia, and Dr. Loomis’ daughter, Becky.

“Unfortunately, the trip didn’t go as planned,” Becky Loomis said. “Dad got an upper respiratory infection that progressed into pneumonia and collapsed at the airport in route to Gambella. He ended up in the hospital in Addis Ababa and once he was a bit recovered went back to the U.S.”

Reimer’s son, Mark, also came down with a flu-like illness that progressed to pneumonia, so he had to return to the U.S. for treatment as well, she said. “Niles Reimer made the trip alone and taught a course for the Gambella ministers — blind and at the age of 90!”

In the late ‘70s the Anywaa Bible translation project became a team effort on the part of Desallegn Omot, Marie “Breezy” Lusted, Niles Reimer and Ajulo Ojwato. (Photo courtesy of Marie Lusted)

Though he was without his son and the Loomises, Reimer arrived safely in Gambella on Jan. 9.

During his two-week visit, Reimer and synod staff hosted two training sessions, one for pastors and one for evangelists from different Anywaa denominations. In both sessions, Reimer enjoyed discussions and group work, presentations and Bible study.

Some people came from rural villages to see him, after missing him for many years. Known to his Anywaa friends as Okwomcor, Reimer relished reconnecting with the community. “God has been very good to me,” he said.

Michael Weller, PC(USA) mission co-worker, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus

Today’s Focus:  Rev. Dr. Niles Reimer, Ninety-year-old Bible translator

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Ronnika Muhammad, PMA
David L. Myers, PMA

Let us pray:

Loving God, thank you for giving us life, hope and love through your son, Jesus. Continue to work through your people to enable us to grow in faith, wisdom and skill to become positive agents of change, to your glory. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 56; 149
First Reading Proverbs 25:15-28
Second Reading 1 Timothy 6:6-21
Gospel Reading Matthew 13:36-43
Evening Psalms 118; 111

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