Here's an "article" I just wrote for our staff website about an inspiring woman who is retiring this year from SAM. I hope to use my life as well as she has used/ is using hers.
Hudson Taylor once said, “If I had 1,000 lives, I’d give them all for China”. Herta Plett has mirrored his commitment with her own life given in faithful service to God in Peru. Last night the missionaries on the Peru field gathered to celebrate her 43 years of ministry and to honor her on the occasion of her retirement from South America Mission. Craig Gahagan recounted her exploits and accomplishments in Tournavista, Pucallpa, and Iquitos, and many of her colleagues—both current and retired– shared stories of her dear friendship and lasting influence in their lives.
Herta began her missionary career in 1966 in Tournavista with the Mennonite Brethren. When they reassigned her four years later, she applied to South America Mission so that she could return to Peru. She taught at SAM Academy in both Tournavista and upon its relocation to Pucallpa.
In her own words, the Lord kept opening new doors of opportunity for her to serve, and she was soon spearheading a campaign to offer evangelical religion classes in local public schools as an alternative to the required Catholic religious education. Herta continued this ministry in Iquitos, where she trained evangelical Christians to serve as government-paid teachers in the public schools.
Having empowered national believers for the teaching ministry, Herta turned her own focus to church planting and leadership development on the rivers around Iquitos.
As Herta “retires” to live with her sister in Canada, she has no intentions of slowing down. As she announced last night, “When I’m busy, I’m happy.” She hopes to volunteer at a nursing home in Canada, and looks forward to sharing her faith with the elderly residents (“older than me,” she says, with 73 years of wisdom under her belt). She has already connected with a Spanish-speaking church and a Filipino church, where she intends to encourage new missionary endeavors. With her passion for the Lord and for missions, she has set her heart on recruiting a fresh generation of missionaries.
Herta’s legacy of faithful service is an encouragement and challenge to us all as we seek to honor God in our lives with similar perseverance, enthusiasm, and love. Please lift her up in prayer as she embarks on a new era in her life and leaves behind a remarkable life of ministry in Peru.