On Sunday, June 17th, while many churches were celebrating Father’s Day, the people of Oak Hills Presbyterian Church were hosting an honorary ceremony for Eddie Mensinger on behalf of his work as an educator in the Central African Republic.
In 1965, the Mensingers made their first trip to Africa.
Back then, Eddie served as a professor, and later Dean of Students, at the Brethren Biblical Seminary, which faithfully prepares pastors and educators to serve churches all over the nation and continent.
During Eddie’s time as a professor, Linda worked as a nurse, a teacher, and a mentor to the women associated with the seminary. Together, the two made a significant impact on the lives of those connected to the school. Even after they moved back to the US, the Mensingers continued to take ministry trips back to the institution they so heavily invested in.
In 2016, after decades of ministry, the Mensingers made their last trip to the CAR.
They served as global workers for more than 50 years!
On behalf of his service in the Central African Republic, Eddie was awarded one of the country’s highest medals of honor, the Medal of Officer.
This past April, a ceremony was held in Bangui to honor Eddie along with a handful of other Encompass partners who invested in the country. However, because Eddie and Linda, both 80, could not comfortably handle the arduous trip, they had to miss the event and receive the medal via mail.
This method of reception, of course, was not a suitable means of honoring such great labors. So, long-time friend of the Mensingers, Sylvia Totzke, with the help of Oak Hills Presbyterian Church, organized a special event to personally present the medal to Eddie and Linda.
The event occurred right before the sermon during church worship. Eddie and Linda were escorted to the stage and a history of their work in the CAR was read aloud to the congregation. Among the crowd, 15 Central Africans who now live in Oregon–invited by Sylvia– were present for the special service.
Abiba Magba, a native of Bangui who has lived in the Portland area for just over a year, pinned the medal on Eddie’s lapel. In God’s providence, Sylvia invited Abiba to pin the medal not realizing that this young woman had actually been personally impacted by the ripples of the Mensinger’s influence in the CAR. At this, Sylvia Totzke said, “See! Your work has endured.”
The highlight of the ceremony occurred when Eddie took the microphone.
After making a few remarks in English, he broke out in Sango, one of the official languages of the CAR. The Central Africans attendees were thrilled! Several immediately began to banter back and forth with Eddie from the pews. Some of the Africans in attendance had only lived in the US for a few weeks and spoke little English; imagine their surprise to hear an American speaking their native tongue.
Upon receiving the award, Mensinger said, “This is beyond my comprehension. I thought that when I came home from Africa that would be the end of it, but I guess I wasn’t forgotten.” And, Linda added, “Anything that we were able to accomplish: to God be the glory.”
Following the service, the crowd enjoyed some refreshments and the Mensingers connected with their new African friends, especially one woman named Pelagie. She had been a member of the Brethren Church in the CAR before moving to the US. She was delighted to meet others who were apart of the fellowship. So much so, she has continued to attend Oak Hills Presbyterian Church with the Mensingers.