Posted by: calloftheandes | September 4, 2012

Funeral September 5 in Canada for Longtime Missionary to Ecuador

Darrel Klassen

You only needed a five-minute conversation with Darrel Klassen to learn that Ecuador was the place that he loved and the country he called home.

Klassen and his wife, Mandy, served as missionaries in that South American country for 28 years as dorm parents and later as guesthouse hosts with Avant Ministries (formerly Gospel Missionary Union). In addition, Darrel headed maintenance and operations at the Mangayacu Camp in the rainforest near Shell, Ecuador, and later was the mission’s office manager in Quito. In May the Klassens moved to West Kelowna, British Columbia.

For 10 years during his childhood, he lived in a dormitory for missionary children while his parents, Henry and Pat Klassen, served as missionaries in Ecuador’s Chimborazo province. Darrel graduated from Alliance Academy International in Quito in 1968. He attended LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, for one year and later worked in engineering and surveying with the Manitoba Highways Department in Canada.

In church one Sunday, Darrel heard a missionary talk of his beloved Ecuador and felt that God wanted his young family to move to the country, and they did just that in 1985.

Easygoing, down to earth and with a ready smile, Darrel’s demeanor made conversation come naturally and with all kinds of people. “He had a love for Ecuador and enjoyed being a tour guide to anyone that wanted to be shown around,” said the Klassens’ daughter, Kami Rudder, speaking on behalf of her mother and siblings. “He loved people and made everyone feel welcome.”

“Darrel frequently provided spiritual help to people with whom he interacted on mission business and often led others to a personal faith in Jesus Christ,” added Bruce Rydbeck, an engineer with HCJB Global in Ecuador who often helps oversee clean water projects in remote Quichua communities. “He was a faithful friend to hundreds of pastors, Ecuadorians and missionaries. His affable manner was appreciated by all.”

He was fluent in Spanish, having arrived in Ecuador at just under 2 years of age with his missionary parents in 1952. In addition, he could converse with the Quichua people with whom his parents worked. “He included people and never looked down on anyone; he treated people equally,” said Rudder.

With the Klassen name widely known among Quichua evangelicals due to the stature of his parents, Darrel gladly accepted invitations to speak at churches in outlying villages during his assignments in Ecuador’s Pastaza and Pichincha provinces. During the Klassens’ home assignments in North America he’d even rise to the occasion of public speaking, but “didn’t want to bring attention to himself,” according to Rudder.

His work helped mission agencies function more effectively in Ecuador. An Alliance Academy International teacher, Chuck Howard, said “I worked most closely with Darrel when he was the vice-president and adjuster for the Society for Mutual Aid in the Southern Hemisphere (SMASH) which provided insurance coverage for mission vehicles and transit. “He was always very friendly and efficient and did his work conscientiously.”

“Darrel was a person who was always ready to serve others,” said Richard Grover, a co-worker at Avant. “He would go out of his way to help any or all of us missionaries.”

Darrel Klassen in 1968

Rudder said her father’s hobbies included working on vehicles, especially vintage cars. He liked hiking, gardening and carpentry. He liked to watch sports, including Formula 1 racing and soccer. For years he visited a friend in an Ecuadorian prison, mentoring him in the Christian faith.

“He honored retired missionaries who came through Quito by helping them in any ways he could,” recounted his colleague Janice Stuck of Avant. “He was a great tour guide; he loved to tease kids; he was a servant.”

“He loved the Quichua passionately and they loved him,” Grover said of Darrel, who told a North American church congregation in 2009, “I’ve spent maybe 35 years of my life in Ecuador. I’m a Canadian citizen, but I feel much more comfortable down there than I do up here.”

The feelings of displacement emerged again upon the Klassens’ return to North America in May 2012 to reenter what had become to him a foreign culture. “Darrel and Mandy returned to Canada this spring and were on home assignment in Kelowna, B.C.,” said Grant Morrison, vice president and executive director of Avant Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Darrel was having difficulty transitioning between a very active ministry in Ecuador and what future ministry was going to be.”

The anticipated transition to Canada did not take place. Family and friends learned later of Darrel’s death by his own hand on Aug. 28, 2012. He was 62.

Born on June 23, 1950, Darrel Bruce Klassen is survived by his wife, Mandy; children Angela, Ryan (Jessica) and Kami (Nathan); three grandsons; his mother, Pat; and siblings Beverley and Cecil. He was predeceased by his father, Henry Klassen.

A funeral service is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, at Peachland Baptist Church, 4204 Lake Ave., Peachland, B.C. To send messages of condolence to the family, visit http://www.hansonsfuneral.com.

Darrel Klassen’s message in early 2009 in Bellingham, WA is at http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/oikos-fellowship-sermon-audio/id106676073

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Responses

  1. We met our fellow Canadian, Darrel, during our year in Ecuador. So sad to hear of his passing and will be praying for comfort during this difficult time. He made a point to come up to us on our last Sunday in Quito and give hugs and blessings for further ministry for us. An amazing man, now in an even more incredible place.

  2. May Darrels family experience the Refuge of the Everlasting Arms of Our Father.

  3. Thank you for a beautiful tribute for a wonderful friend. My siblings and I grew up with Darrel in the GMU/Avant dorm. My husband Bob and I served along with Darrel and Mandy in the same mission. Darrel was my brother, our friend and fellow missionary. We are grieving the loss of someone we loved deeply. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mandy and all his family.

    Carol Snell

  4. What a faithful servant Darrel was and how he will be missed! I grew up with Darrel and later we both returned and raised our own familes in Ecuador. In the past years, we have taken 2 groups down on missions’ trips and stayed with Darrel and Mandy. They were such gracious hosts and ministered to us.
    Praying for the family.

  5. Estamos orando por la familia gracias a Dios por el tiempo que dedicaron a mi pais y el ministerio. Bendiciones

  6. Great tribute to one who exemplified God’s love to all without exception. I feel so privileged to have known Darrel as a friend and colleague during the 18 years we lived in Ecuador. He always stood up for those who needed an advocate. He was a “no strings attached” kind of person with a true servant’s heart. We love you Darrel and will miss you.

  7. He was also always a wonderful host at the GMU Guesthouse, he will be missed.
    -Elizabeth

    • Thanks Elizabeth. Always nice to go in when he had a fire blazing in the fireplace. I’d stop in now and then to see a guest, maybe shoot a photo, and then yeah, shoot the breeze with Darrel in front of the fire for a bit. -R

  8. I am praying for all of the Klassen’s. Uncle Darrel will be greatly missed. Mary Grover

    • Thanks Mary. It was your dad, Richard, cited in the story perhaps? Thank you for praying for the Klassens. I know they need and appreciate it. -Ralph

  9. Thanks Greg. Pray with us for the Klassens during this time. -Ralph

    • Very well written, Ralph. Your composition honoring Darrel brings great honor and glory to the Lord while accurately reflecting the terrific person that Darrel was to so many of us. He truly loved Ecuador and her people and even his fellow missionaries. The pictures that capture his great smile are the icing on the cake. Darrel, your labour was NOT in vain in the Lord!

      • Thanks John. I want to credit Darrel’s family for the photos they supplied me. And collaborated in every way to tell Darrel’s story. -Ralph

  10. Yet, another servant-leader moves to higher ground. I am sure he will be missed by many. I sincerely hope we are raising up and educating more young people to take this saint’s place. Gal: 2:20


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