The Archaeology of Our Faith: Strata #4
Lina Zook was born in Wayne County, Ohio in 1869. As a teenager, Lina set her sights on becoming a missionary. With the encouragement of her home church, she came to Chicago as one of the founding members of the Chicago Mennonite Mission. The Mission opened its doors in 1893 on the corner of West 18th Street and Wells. Eight Mennonite workers staffed this new venture and they were funded by Mennonite Churches in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The Mission provided weekly tutoring services, home visits, basic health services, nutrition education, classes in life skills and Bible studies. On any given day, more than a 100 children participated in a variety of educational activities. Lina Zook was a key figure in this venture as the Mission began to collaborate with other Chicago ministries. In the absence of Mennonite materials, she relied on a Presbyterian curriculum for bible classes. She arranged for Doctors from the American Baptist clinic to provide health care for the children. Because she was a gifted singer, Lina quickly became a soloist for Dwight L. Moody’s evangelistic services. All of this was not without controversy in her home church. Within a few years, she was asked to return to Ohio. On her way back to Ohio, Elkhart Institute, the forerunner of Goshen College, hired her to teach Bible and serve as Preceptress which in today’s language means the Director of the Biblical Studies Curriculum. While teaching in Elkhart, she met Jacob Ressler who was on his way to India to serve as a missionary. A month after they met, he wrote a letter proposing marriage. After an 18 month romance by correspondence, Jacob returned to America in 1903 for the wedding. Suddenly Lina voiced her misgivings: she did not want to be called Mrs. Jacob Ressler and insisted on being known as Lina Zook Ressler. Jacob accepted her idea and they married. After four years as missionaries in India, Lina and Jacob were hired by Herald Press in Scottdale, Pennsylvania where they served as editors for the remainder of their working years. Lina wrote and edited Sunday school materials and two magazines for children: Beams of Light and Words of Cheer. She kept meticulous diaries throughout her life which now occupy more than four feet of shelf space in the Mennonite Archives in Goshen, Indiana. Surely the Lord would say of Lina Zook Ressler, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
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The Living Mirror: Archaeology of Our Faith