Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 18, 2013

Willis Gabriel Horst

July 4, 1939-Sept. 1, 2013


GOSHEN — Willis Gabriel Horst, 74, died at home Sept. 1.

He was born July 4, 1939, to Susie I. (Good) and Clarence K. Horst near Seville, Ohio.

On July 4, 1964, Willis married Byrdalene Wyse of Archbold, Ohio. She survives, along with their son, Rene (and Marlene Harder Horst, Matias, Tali) of Boone, N.C.; and daughters, Carmen (and Eric Kurtz, Elisa, Rebeca) of Goshen, Emily (and Malcolm Sedaca, Khalil) of Cordoba, Argentina, and Cristina (and Lucas Robert, Francisco, Serafin) of Cordoba, Argentina.

Also surviving are his siblings, Raymond G. Horst (Kathryn Ressler) of Lewisburg, Tenn., Melvin G. Horst (Eleanor Burckhart) of Columbiana, Ohio, Arthur G. Horst (Mary Horst) of Kensington, Ohio, Paul G. Horst (Edith Good) of Hermon, Ky., Emma Elizabeth (Glen Eberly) of Dalton, Ohio, Clarence Gene Horst (Edith Steiner) of Mousie, Ky., and Margaret Susanna (Curtis Yoder) of Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law, Kathryn.

Willis graduated from Goshen College before teaching on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona. After studying at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, he served with Mennonite Mission Network from 1971 to 2010, in accompaniment with indigenous churches in the Chaco region of northern Argentina, primarily the Iglesia Evangelica Unida.

Willis developed the Bible Circle, a conversational format that encourages indigenous people to explore their spirituality and the values of Jesus within their own culture. In his vision, the missionary is an invited guest who listens, discerns and shares as an equal rather than impose his or her views.

During their last five years in the Chaco, Willis and Byrdalene worked with the Argentine Bible Society and Pilaga readers to record the Gospels and Acts in their language, to make scriptures available to non-readers.

Willis delighted in the natural world and cared passionately for Creation. He enjoyed hiking and birding and gave hundreds of tree saplings as gifts among the indigenous congregations he visited.

Memorial services will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Assembly Mennonite Church, Goshen, and at Iglesia Anabautista Menonita, Floresta, Buenos Aires, Argentina on Nov. 2.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mennonite Mission Network.