James E. Bertsche, 91, died at 9:55 p.m., Wednesday at Greencroft Goshen Health Care after a three month illness.
James was born June 20, 1921 in Bluffton, Ohio to Harry and Emma Steiner Bertsche. He married Genevieve “Jenny” Shuppert June 9, 1946 in South Bend.
She survives along with three children; Sandra (Rod King), Goshen, Linda (Jim Yoder), Port au Prince, Haiti and Tim (Laura Gilbertson), Morton, Ill.; a sister, Ruth Covington and seven grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Evan Bertsche.
Jim’s formal education included degrees from Taylor University, Upland, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, Ill., and Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Jim and Jenny began international mission service in 1948 with the Congo Inland Mission, now known as Africa Inter Mennonite Mission. Jim and Jenny’s Africa service spanned almost 37 years. Jim’s work included village itineration, teaching, preaching, mentoring new personnel, translation of biblical materials and legal representation for the mission. Jim also served on the Executive Committee of the Congo Mennonite Church.
In 1974, Jim and Jenny came to Elkhart where he served as the Executive Secretary of the Mission until 1986. During that period AIMM expanded its presence and ministry into Botswana, Lesotho, the Transkei region of southern Africa and Burkina Faso.
After retirement, Jim researched and wrote a history of the mission which was published in 1998: “CIM/AIMM: A Story of Vision, Commitment, and Grace.” Throughout his retirement he enjoyed speaking about his experiences in Africa and continued to write, his most recent effort being a compilation of stories recorded by African Christians.
Among other things, Jim will be remembered for his humble and gentle wisdom, storytelling, ceaseless gratitude and unwavering faith.
Arrangements are being made by Yoder-Culp Funeral Home. Online condolences may be offered at www.yoderculpfuneralhome.com. According to his wishes, cremation will take place and a private interment will follow at a later date.
Family will receive visitors from 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, at Silverwood Mennonite Church, 1712 West Clinton St., Goshen, where a Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The Rev. Ron Guengerich will officiate.
Memorial gifts may be given either to African Inter Mennonite Mission or to International Ministries of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches.