Retired World Gospel Mission missionary and longtime friend of the camp Meredythe “Mery” Scheflen died Monday in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Scheflen, who was raised in Merchantville, N.J., first arrived in Bolivia in 1952. During her many decades of serving the Bolivian people, she founded the Rio Nuevo Grade School, Berea High School, Berea Bible Seminary and Bolivian Evangelical University, which was the first private, Spanish-speaking evangelical university in South America.
A 1947 Asbury University graduate, Scheflen also earned a theology degree from Malone University before entering a mission field she officially retired from after 53 years of service in 2003. She continued to live in Bolivia until political turmoil forced her and other missionaries to flee in the fall of 2008, but returned to the place she wanted to live out her final years last year.
Click HERE to read an article on the WGM website about Scheflen’s life and ministry.
During her many visits to Delanco Camp over the years, Scheflen impacted countless youth and adults and was used by God to lead dozens more to follow her into the mission field.
Were you one of those impacted by her ministry? Share your recollections of Mery in the comments.
3 thoughts on “Meredythe “Mery” Scheflen 1926-2011”
Though I’ve only spoken with Mrs. Scheflen a few times, she has been an inspiration to me. I’ve followed her ministry through newsletters, and I participated in WGM activities on campus when I was at Asbury. My parents, also Asburians, named me after her. I consider that a blessing, a heritage, in a way. To God be the glory.
Meredythe (nee Monroe) Sisco
That is so cool, Meredythe. It’s definitely not a common spelling of the name.
It’s incredible the impact Meredythe Scheflen had because she surrendered her life to God’s will.
I first met and became a friend of Mery Shefflen in 1990 while I was working as a Spanish Teacher, and later administrator (Dean and VP for Academic Affairs), at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY. I was awarded a Pew Charitable Trust Grant to establish an academic convenio (educational agreement) between Asbury and the Universidad Evangélica Boliviana in Santa Cruz, Bolivia–the university founded and adored by Mery. At first I was not sure what I could do to form a genuine convenio between the two schools, because quite frankly, my first reaction was that Asbury had everything to offer the poor and emerging Bolivian school, than they could ever offer us. What a surprise to learn that I, and my colleagues, received much more from our experiences there than UEB ever received back from us.
What a blessing it was for me to spend time with Mery talking about her school on the t.v. and radio stations there, meeting the UEB staff and students in and out of the classroom. Yet, the classes were so tiny, the labs were so out of date–I could not see the remote possibility then of UEB ever becoming anything “big.” However, it seemed that every single person I met there was unbelievably passionate, just as Mery was, about the bright future of UEB and how the Lord would provide buildings, staff, supplies, books, scholarships, money, anything that would be needed to make UEB a huge, successful university in South America. At Asbury there was doubt that such a dream would ever see fruition–the school was viewed as small, behind the times and not up to the rigorous standards of most all American colleges. While there, I went to farms and vacant acres of land where Mery would walk for miles showing me where this building or that building would one day be built–how it would look, how many students it would serve and how money would come for such constructions in God’s own time–but it would come! It did seem a dream–the land looked rugged, isolated, and it looked unimaginable to me that university buildings would stand there to hold thousands of more students than Asbury would ever have on its campus. But, over the years, God provided Mery with her dream, through grants, aid, donations, tithes, and her own blood, sweat and tears. Mery never once thought that her dream would not become a reality. She loved UEB, WGM and Asbury College to the day she died–she knew in her mind that they all had one connection–it was UEB–it was herself.
It all came to fruition, and today UEB has 20 times the students that Asbury has or will ever have. It offers an evangelical world view to a predominantly un-evangelical continent. Many students would come to UEB faithless and leave with a burning faith in God that seemed only a miracle of Mery’s doing.
We had exchanges of faculty and students, we had staff help catalogue her tiny first library–there were about 1000 books, or not many more. Now the UEB library boasts 15000 titles and all is accessible online! I remember speaking to her student body in Spanish about the importance of keeping the passion of the university alive. Mery kept it alive through sheer determination and faith. Everyone in Santa Cruz knew this white missionary by her first name and everyone loved and admired her for her love of Bolivia and her faith in her dream.
She would hop in her old jeep and away we would go–taking care of the Lord’s business as she called it. I will never forget my experiences in Santa Cruz and I will never forget my 20 year friendship with Mery. thereafter. Long after I left Asbury, Mery kept me close to her heart and sent me many letters telling me of her newest dreams, her personal trials and triumphs and making sure to ask and show concern and love for what was going on in my life. I have lost a friend, but I am surely a better person for knowing Mery Sheflen. She is probably one of the strongest and most dedicated woman I have ever met and I know that UEB and the people of Santa Cruz must surely miss, but surely be grateful to her.