March 28, 2019

Remembering Rhoda Sauder, pioneering missionary to Honduras

Written by  Linda Moffett
Rhoda and James Sauder, EMM missionaries from 1961–1991, wrote the book “Surviving, Thriving & Multiplying: Three Decades of Growth in the Honduras Mennonite Church. This photo was taken in 2014, before James passed away in 2016. Photos from EMM archives. Rhoda and James Sauder, EMM missionaries from 1961–1991, wrote the book “Surviving, Thriving & Multiplying: Three Decades of Growth in the Honduras Mennonite Church. This photo was taken in 2014, before James passed away in 2016. Photos from EMM archives.

SALUNGA, Pa. — Rhoda M. Sauder, 83, a pioneer and career missionary, passed into eternity on March 23, 2019, in Ephrata, Pa. Rhoda and her late husband, James Sauder, served with Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) for 30 years.

“Rhoda and James were evangelists; Jesus people to the end,” said Steve Shank, EMM strategic coach. “They were instrumental in the planting of the Honduras Mennonite Church which has flourished to more than 135 churches and over 12,000 believers today.”

“Rhoda was well-loved by the Hondurans, a woman who wanted to be certain everyone was taken care of and included,” Shank said. “She never hesitated to share her faith. Rhoda was a caring, loving mother not only of her own family but of the church family as well.”

The Sauders served with EMM from 1961 to 1991. Although they were originally assigned for service in Vietnam, they were reassigned to Honduras when their visas were not granted. After attending language school in Costa Rica, the young family arrived in Gualaco, Honduras, in 1962.

After 19 years of faithful service in Honduras, the Sauders were involved in Caribbean ministry and based in Miami from 1980 to 1984. From 1985 through 1991, they served in the Dominican Republic.

“Rhoda was a woman of deep faith. She didn’t shy away from hardship and difficulties,” said Gerry Keener, EMM president. “Her life of service is deeply appreciated and a special part of EMM’s legacy.”

One of Rhoda’s last ministry projects was co-authoring and editing “Surviving, Thriving & Multiplying,” a book detailing the first 30 years of the Honduras Mennonite Church. Written with the late James Sauder along with George and Lois Zimmerman, the book is a comprehensive collection of stories and details.

“Her commitment to share the gospel with others, and the foundational work of the Holy Spirit through the mission work in Honduras, has resulted in a book testifying of God’s transformation in Honduras,” Shank said. “It’s a remarkable history of God’s remarkable work.”

One of Rhoda’s dreams was to have her book translated into Spanish and made available in Honduras. If you would like to contribute to the translation of this book, you can give toward this project by mailing a check to EMM or giving online by adding a preference memo for “Honduras book translation.”