Posted by: calloftheandes | January 30, 2009

HCJB Global German Radio Broadcaster Sally Schroeder Isaak Dies at 82


Sally Schroeder Isaak, a German broadcaster at Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, for 30 years, died of cancer in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, on Monday, Jan. 19. She was 82.

The daughter of Mennonite parents, Wilhelm and Sara Schroeder who emigrated from Ukraine to Canada in 1925, Sally was born in St. Françoise Xavier, Manitoba, on Feb. 19, 1926. Her parents had excellent singing voices, and they became known as the singing family. Sally loved music all her life.

Sally gave her life to Christ when at age 11 and was baptized near Steinbach, Manitoba, joining the Mennonite Brethren Church. Fulfilling a childhood dream, she became a schoolteacher in Manitoba after graduating from Teachers College in Winnipeg and taking courses at Regent College in Vancouver.

Continuing her studies, Sally attended the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, Calif., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan., in 1956. She also completed a bachelor’s degree in religious education from Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg in 1964. In 1978 she received a master’s degree in communications from Wheaton Graduate School in Wheaton, Ill.

While enjoying her teaching career, Sally began to feel “restless” and spent a year on a special project with the Mennonite Central Committee, working among Mexican migrant workers in Modesto, Calif. Sensing a call to missions, she applied with Mennonite Brethren Missions/Services (MBM/S) in 1956 and was assigned to HCJB Global’s German Language Service in Quito, a department that had begun just three years earlier.

After five months of Spanish language study in San José, Costa Rica, Sally arrived in Ecuador in February 1957, serving with HCJB Global under the auspices of MBM/S. The German programs she produced aired to listeners across Europe and South America via shortwave on Radio Station HCJB.

“I derived a lot of satisfaction from producing programs for non-Christian Germans,” she said in an interview several years ago. “It was especially gratifying when listeners to the programs wrote in to say they had accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. I also enjoyed every minute of Spanish study, and I had a very good relationship with the 10 churches that supported me as their adopted missionary.”

In addition to producing radio programs, Sally worked at HCJB-TV, helping in music and teaching English intermittently for nine years. She was also involved in the Iñaquito Evangelical Church in Quito, helping primarily in Christian education, teaching children, youth and adults and directing the church’s educational program. In addition, she worked with Ecuadorian women, teaching Bible classes and helping new Christians grow in their faith.

Throughout the years Sally took a number of listener follow-up trips in German-speaking Europe and South America. In 1967 she spent five months in West Germany in an effort to learn and understand more about the culture and situation to present radio programs that better met the needs of German-speaking listeners. In her time on the field, Sally was privileged to interview two Ecuadorian presidents, Osvaldo Hurtado and León Roldós.

A gifted linguist, Sally was fluent in three languages: German, English and Spanish. HCJB Global retiree Tom Fulghum, said she was “amazing in her cross-cultural skills. Besides all the work she did in German, she was extremely well connected in the Latin community in Ecuador. Her Spanish was impeccable, and she often did simultaneous translation work. She had an enormous heart for people, both for the German people to whom she ministered as well as the Ecuadorians. It was a joy to work with her.”

John Adams, staff and office care manager at the HCJB Global Ministry Service Center in Colorado Springs, agreed. “I wish each of us as missionaries in Ecuador could have been as culturally sensitive and as highly efficient in Spanish as Sally was,” he said. “She set a great example of what it meant to reach out to and identify with our host nation.”

“Professionally, as a radio producer and announcer, Sally was immaculate in her preparation and presentation,” added Adams. “She was a pro in every sense of the word. She had a compassion for the lost that was palpable and a rapport with her Ecuadorian friends and acquaintances and fellow staff members that exemplified what it means to be an ambassador of Christ.”

German program producer Esther Neufeld said, “Up to the end, Sally was interested in the ongoing ministry of HCJB Global and prayed regularly with [retired German programmer] Maria Hubert. She had a tremendous impact on many lives. Her life and ministry has been a model for me.”

After retiring from missionary service, Sally returned to Canada where she married Frank Isaak in Steinbach on Aug. 22, 1987. They had known each other since taking teacher training together when they were in their 20s.

Although retired, Sally never sat down. After settling in Abbotsford, she began Bible studies with Latin Americans she met. This led to the establishment of the Bakerview Hispanic Church. Sally was active in her church until she was no longer physically able to do so and helped in the ministry of HCJB Global-Canada wherever possible.

Sally documented the impact of the German Language Service and her personal ministry in her book, Some Seed Fell on Good Ground, published by Windflower Communications in Winnipeg in 1994.

A funeral and memorial service was held at Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church in Abbotsford  on Tuesday, Jan. 27. Donations in honor of Sally’s life may be made to HCJB Global or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Note: Sally´s favorite HCJB memory: revival among missionaries during an Annual Members´Meeting of World Radio Missionary Fellowship, Inc.

-Audio clip of Dr. Abe Van Der Puy describing the guest speaker, Festo Kivengere, bishop from Uganda.

-Audio clip of Dr. Abe Van Der Puy describing missionaries´response of repentance and revival at these meetings.



  1. […] in 2009, Vozandes Media continues as an outreach to German-speaking listeners stemming from the ministry that began decades earlier when German was a language service of the international radio station, HCJB, Die Stimme der Anden […]

  2. […] first-generation German broadcasters at HCJB were apparently Mennonites. At least three of them, Sally Schroeder, Maria Hübert, and Peter Hübert, were emigrants – or refugees – from the former USSR. […]

  3. “Thanks for this. The audio clip of Dr. Abe recounting how God’s Spirit worked at AMM is truly moving.” -David R.

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