Gonnie Pothof

Eberhard and Rosmarie Hanisch, Riberalta, Bolivia

On June 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm, our dear sister and coworker Gonnie Pothof was called to the joy of her Lord in her 82nd year.

Sister Gonnie was a Midnight Call Ministry missionary. Stations of her varied service were England, the Netherlands, work among children in Switzerland, preparation with New Tribes Mission in the USA, on horseback in the service of the Indians in Panama, and 47 years in Bolivia. Here she was active in establishing Bible study groups on the rivers, as well as the Beni Bible School in Riberalta. She also managed our book shop and started the women’s choir in the local church.

For around a year and a half, sister Gonnie knew that she was suffering from a severe illness. Her wish was to remain in Riberalta, her second home. During her illness, she experienced kindness from all sides. But she became increasingly weak. We were glad that people came and spent the night with her. The last two weeks were especially tiring for her caregivers. At the end, it was necessary to organize care around the clock. Early on the morning of Pentecost Sunday, it was difficult to communicate with her, and she could no longer speak. After a few hours, she was able to go home to her Lord and Savior. This had long been her wish and hope. During her patient suffering, Gonnie was visited by many people; she took the Lord’s Supper at home, and appreciated it when people prayed and read the Bible with her. She often read many chapters a day, and she had just finished the New Testament and begun again.

Here in Bolivia, it is the custom to hold a vigil. The deceased is laid out, and whoever wishes can come and take leave of them. Together with the church, we had a memorial service in her house. It was overwhelming to see how many brothers and sisters came and served; either putting out seats or cooking something. Others helped with selecting the casket, going to the authorities to order the death certificate, etc. From the testimonies that many people passed on, there were many expressions of her own testimony, her example, her counseling, her prayer life, or simply her service of love. More than 100 people took part in this ceremony. For all of us, a void has been left.

In a message based on John 14 and 16, Pastor Alejandro emphasized that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, wants to fill us. On Monday, June 5, on the Feast of Pentecost at 3:00 pm, the memorial service was held, and afterwards we went to the cemetery. At the memorial service, besides our missionaries, eight native pastors were present. As the room in the house was too small for so many people, we put chairs under the mango trees behind the house and placed the casket there. Eberhard (missionary) gave a brief address from Hebrews and Revelation, where the reality of the heavenly world is described. Once again, brothers and sisters in the Lord whose lives had been influenced by Gonnie gave short testimonies. Especially moving was the reading of a detailed resume of the deceased.

Many people were strengthened and encouraged to trust Jesus and to make Him the center of their lives. At the end, we accompanied her casket about three kilometers (1.8 miles) on foot to the Monte Sagrado cemetery, where she had reserved a grave years ago. With a Gospel message by Pastor Ephraim, we took leave of sister Gonnie and thanked the Lord for her blessed missionary life.

“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).

Midnight Call - 11/2017

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