Loewen, Rev. Cornelius Barkman

Rev. Cornelius Barkman Loewen

by Lorilee Scharfenberg

Cornie B. Loewen and the author in Mexico City - 1968.

Cornie, as a young boy, had limitless energy. He would rather run than walk and yet was a fairly shy boy. He enjoyed life on the farm and looked up to his older brother Pete with great admiration. Sister Anna was like a second mother to him. He enjoyed school very much and eagerly learned all that his teacher, George P. Goossen, allowed him. As the world scene began to impact the small Mennonite community of Rosenhoff, Cornie felt his heart and mind affected by the call to democracy. He began to feel angry with the idea of Hitler's dictatorship and followed the Allied battles with great interest. He was only 13 when World War II began and never fully surrendered to the Mennonite ideal of pacifism in his teenage years. The adventure and newness of it all intrigued him and he even dressed in khaki clothes and wrote many letters to his friends that had already joined the war effort.

Cornie was rebellious toward the Lord during his teen years and yet experienced several clear callings to the ministry during that time in his life. One that he related in detail went like this: He was still at home and unsaved when he awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. He knew that he was in the presence of the supernatural although his brothers in the same room were asleep and never noticed anything. He was totally awake and yet felt as if he was in a trance. The Spirit of the Lord surrounded him and God spoke to him. He was completely convicted of his sinfulness as the Lord spoke and said, "I will send YOU!" The only thing Cornie said at that time was "Where?" At that moment Cornie said he would have gone anywhere without any promise of remuneration and yet he had never even experienced salvation. Cornie felt helpless when the vision left him but certain that it was the Lord's calling in his life. Ironically Cornie did not turn to Christ at that time, instead he continued in his rebellion. For many years after he eventually surrendered his life to the Lord, he lived in fear that the Lord would have cancelled that call in his life because he had not immediately obeyed.

Cornie agreed to serve as a C.O. and give up his chance to serve in the military simply because his father asked him to with tears in his eyes. He was obedient. He worked in the lumber camps for several years. God was shaping his life. Cornie and Tina B. Eidse were engaged in 1947 just before the new year began and were both still unsaved. In 1948 their lives turned upside down when they both dedicated their lives to the Lord through the ministry of the radio. They had to break their engagement and then get re-engaged in order for their marriage to be recognized by the church. During this time Cornie's parents were getting ready to move to Mexico and so they accelerated their wedding plans to accommodate the family before they left. Both Cornie and Tina were also baptized before their wedding. It is ironic that although they became Christians through the radio, they had to sell it when they joined the church. Cornie's life changed dramatically. He went from being completely consumed by militaristic ideas to being consumed by Jesus Christ. He believed that the church should function more like the military and that all Christians should be willing to die for Christ and to go anywhere for their leader. This was how he lived his life from that day. First it was all for the Allies and then ALL for Christ. He led many of his friends to the Lord in the first few weeks that followed.

The Lord led them through many mountains and valleys throughout the next number of years both literally and spiritually. They became parents early in their married lives and lived life quietly on the parent's farm. Cornie took correspondence courses through Goshen College. Their lives changed again when the church in Rosenort sent them to spend ten years in the mountains of Mexico with their growing family. Cornie and Tina learned the Spanish language quickly and began to minister in the clinic and in the homes of the Mexican people. Tina continued in her role as a housewife and mother but also served as a nurse. She delivered well over one hundred children into the world including several of her nieces and nephews. Cornie was affectionately called "Hermano Cornelio" and he won his way into the hearts of the Spanish sisters and brothers teaching their children, chauffeuring the sick to doctors and doing intense personal evangelism with all those he came in contact with. The Lord blessed and the Mexican EMC Church grew rapidly. During those ten years from 1954 until 1964, the family expanded from two daughters and one son to five lovely children. One of the benefits of serving as missionaries in Mexico was having grandparents (Peter C. Loewen's), aunts and uncles, and many cousins nearby for their children to love and enjoy.

The years back in Morris were blessed years. Cornie and Tina enjoyed building up their own home and yard in Riverside, close to where the C.D. Loewen's original homestead had been. One more child was added to the family during this time much to their surprise. Cornie and Tina served as pastoral couple for 20 years in the Morris Fellowship. Cornie also conducted many evangelistic meetings and was chaplain for the Morris Hospital. He continued to dabble in farming and carpentry. Many farmers hired him to swath their canola (rape) when it was somewhat lodged because they always said that he was one of few men who had the patience to do the job properly and finish the task completely.

The last number of years he was the speaker on the Good News radio program. This was a ministry he delighted in despite the long hours of writing sermons in the Low German Language.

Cornie was a man of many interests. He loved doing jigsaw and crossword puzzles, reading many diverse books, playing knipsbrat and checkers, collecting humorous cartoons from the Manitoba Co-operator, watching Hockey Night in Canada and travelling. He was a prolific writer and his family published his memoirs in a book entitled "I Remember - Riverside and the Regions Beyond" in 1995.

Life for Cornie and Tina was never dull but rather one adventure after another. Cornie lived his life with a certain spontaneity and even in the suddenness of his death by heart attack in April of 1994 he managed to exit as he had begun life: as a soldier of Christ - with dignity and drama! Amazingly, his thirst for souls lasted til life's end. The night before his first massive heart attack, he introduced a roommate in the Morris Hospital to Christ. The fellow accepted to Cornie's delight! Right until the end our father was faithful in his calling.

Since Cornie has been gone, Tina has had 6 grandchildren, three times through births and six times through marriage. She also has two great-granddaughters and is waiting for four more grandchildren this summer! She has managed to survive two painful hip surgeries and two Red River Valley Floods without him at her side and she has seen their oldest two daughters celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversaries. Their grandchildren are getting baptized, graduating from school and getting married.

Tina enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles, reading books, gardening, listening to country and southern gospel music and visiting with family and friends to pass away the lonely hours.

Cornie and Tina have six children, all of whom are married. They share nineteen grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Sharon is married to Ron Friesen. They are members and deacons of the Rosenort Fellowship Chapel (EMC). Ron and Sharon were previously the owners of Meridian Industries. Ron is currently involved in farming with his second son, Blaine. Their oldest four children are married. Garth and Wendy and daughter Chelsea live in Steinbach, where Garth is a professor of Youth Ministries at S.B.C. They are expecting child number 2. Rolf and Ange Kruse are missionaries in Ethiopia, with their daughter Kalia. Currently home on furlough, they are expecting their second child. Blaine and Andrea are farming in the Rosenort area and expecting their first child. Kyle and Laura are building a home in Mitchell, MB and expecting their first child. Kyle is a music teacher. Keira is presently attending Providence college. Anne is married to Edward Loewen. They are deacons of the Rosenort E.M. Church. Edward is a foreman for Westfield Industries (grain augers). Patricia is a missionary for Inner City Youth Alive in Winnipeg. Jeremy was just married to Jaimee Dueck and is attending university. Meredith works in Morris and lives at home, while Alex is attending college and leaving on short term missions to Russia. Tim is married to Laurie Buhr. Tim works for Midland Manufacturing in Rosenort near Morris. Danielle is married to Matthew Gridley. They are both university students in the field of education. Brooke is attending university as well in Winnipeg while Carly is leaving for Briercrest Bible College in the fall. Joanell is married to Bob Clark. Joanell has returned to work part-time at Farlie Travel while Bobby is employed by Ford Canada of Edmonton. They have two sons Ty and Troy at home. Bob is married to Lily Colon. He is working as a welder in Columbus, Ohio while Lil is a supervsor working with handicapped adults. They attend Grove City Church of the Nazarene. Their children, Jordan and Hayley, are in school.Lorilee is married to Arlin Scharfenberg. They are members in the Rosenort E.M. Church. She is a homemaker for their three sons Riley, Evan and Bobby. Arlin teaches in the Rosenort school: Red River Valley School Division.

Back L-R:Arlin and Lori Scharfenberg, Bob and Joanell Clark, Sharon and Ron Friesen, Anne and Ed Loewen.

Front: Tim, Tina and Bob Loewen, Laurie and Lil Loewen seated.

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Last Updated on June 15, 2004 by Lorilee Scharfenberg