The History of Hauge Foreign Missions
Though Hauge Foreign Missions did not organize until 1950, its beginning work must be credited to Gabriel Eikli, a Norwegian missionary who came through the states in 1949. He and his wife, Martha, had served in China for eleven years, until the Chinese closed the door to mission work. They were herded into a boxcar on a freight train that took them through Siberia for 42 days. A Japanese soldier, on the train, told Eikli, “Come to Japan, we need you.” The Eiklis felt this was where the Lord wanted them to go, but there were other obstacles in the road.
Japan would not allow anyone into their country unless they had a home in which to live. The Eiklis had neither a home, nor land to build on, nor the funds to purchase them. A man out in the western part of our country offered his trailer home to the Eiklis and shipped it over on a freighter to Japan. The Eiklis found some cheap land in the area of Kobe (now some of the highest price land you can get) and the Eiklis settled down to work. They were considered the pioneers of the work there, and he claims it was friends from Hauge Foreign Missions that got the work started there.
The Continuing Mission in Japan
Well, in 1950, another young Norwegian, Arne and his wife Elsa, came to the states to visit relatives in Montana. He told them he felt the Lord was calling them to work in Japan but the NLM had no funds to send them at this time. His relatives told him to go visit a Pastor friend in North Dakota named Peter Ljostveit.
Ljostveit was so impressed with Arne’s testimony and call that he called together a small group of lay people to hear his story. They also felt this calling was of the Lord and decided to send Arne and Elsa to Japan and support them. First they were commissioned and then sent out to as many churches and home meetings as possible that might be interested in getting involved. They were soon on their way to Japan.
In his first year, Arne started a church in Tsujama and we helped along with the starting of a mission home, Bible school, and a seminary. We also helped to open a kindergarten school that was really used to open the door to reach families. We also helped to open a radio station that the Lord used mightily. Since we felt that we needed to keep in close contact with the work, we asked if the missionaries, going home on furlough from the field, would sacrifice three weeks of their vacation to share about the work with us. Many did, including Magnus Sorus, Per Finnseth, Arnold Ljokjell, Tore Jatun, Petra Jaabak, the Gronnings, the Eiklis, Arne Soras, Masaki, Ho Of Tin (I am sure I have forgotten some). They all came to help and give of themselves. All of these missionaries also wrote letters for the Banner, which kept up the interest in the work.
A New Mission in Ethiopia
Shortly after the Gronnings were in Japan, a friend in the states had a Norwegian missionary friend visiting from Ethiopia, and he thought we would be interested in meeting her. Her name was Bertha Aanestad, and she touched people’s hearts with her burden for the Ethiopians. Funds were raised for her work there, and she claims that the Wadera station was solely the work of friends from Hauge Foreign Missions. A mission home, clinic, orphanage and church were started there and many souls came into the Kingdom, as there was a great thirst for the gospel in this country.
Alvin reminded us at camp that Wadera was taken over by communists a few years back, but since then it has come back into the hands of the missionaries, so we praise the Lord for this. The missionaries that were faithful in coming here and sharing in the Banner were Gunnar Kjarlaand, Torjus Vatnedalen, Ragne Fjeld, Aslaug Helgesen, Johannes Eikken, Tormod Engelsviken, Norvold Yri, Gunnar Oseng, Helge Hanes, Kjell Jaren, Kjell Aardal, Birger Breivik and Tormod Vagen. Again we know there were others also but just can’t recall all of them at this time.
Continuing Work in Kenya, Tanzania, and Swahili
Jo Jossang came through at different times, presenting the work in Kenya and Tanzania. Besides his missionary work as Pastor and teacher, he was very concerned to get the Gospel into the language of the people. He printed many tracts, catechisms and other literature in the Swahili language, and again the Lord allowed us to have small part in this work. Hans Tore Leithe shared from Indonesia and friends became interested in that work, and so it goes on and on how the Lord touched hearts to give and pray.
Then in the 1970’s, our faithful editor of the Banner, Nordskog, decided it was time to retire, and the mission started looking for a new editor. Eikli and Brivik came to the states at the time and told Alvin Larson the Lord had laid him on their hearts and that he should take the job. Alvin had never done anything like this before. The Board decided they needed a treasurer and a contact man to head the organization of the missionaries’ speaking engagements. They elected Alvin to do this. At about the same time, the NLM had started a new work in Peru and Bolivia and they insisted on sending him out to see all their stations there. They wanted him to provide news about the work in the churches and homes when no missionary was coming through our country. This opened our eyes to mission work in a foreign field. It was very different from home missions because of the underdevelopment of the countries. It is an experience he will never forget.
Nevertheless, the interest slowed down when fewer and fewer letters came into the Banner and younger missionaries did not come through like the older ones had done. We began to wonder how long we would exist. But the Lord has His way of creating interest and opening new doors. Through contacts made in Hungary, we learned of a group called EKE, which consisted of very conservative pastors and lay people. These members were trying to reach the young and old that were open to the Gospel. Hungary had been under communist control since 1949, and so the younger people had not been exposed to the Word of God and therefore sat in darkness.
Now there were those who were hungry and wanting to hear. We had representatives from Hungary at our family camp to share with us, and Hauge Foreign Mission members decided they wanted to be involved in this work as well. The testimonies of those who were converted were printed in the Banner and created a burden and desire to help. During the communist control, money was hard to come by (and still is difficult), so the brethren there were not able reach out to the lost in ways they would have liked. So again, Hauge Foreign Missions had the opportunity to reach a new field in the work of the brethren, helping provide the tools for them to work more effectively.