Obituary for Jonathan K. Stoltzfus
Jonathan K Stoltzfus went to be with Jesus at the age of 82 on July 27, 2017. From his birth on October 26, 1935, “Johnny” was known for his adventurous spirit and his desire to inspire those around him. Raised in a spirited Amish family, he was the youngest of 7 children. He discovered his passion for Jesus as a teenager at a Brunk Tent Revival. At the age of 17, he went to Canada to work with the Ojibway Natives in Northwestern Ontario, with the Northern Light Gospel Mission. His first flight into the bush ended with a plane crash into a lake. However, in true Johnny spirit, he became a fearless bush pilot at the age of 18. He went on to fly in the Northern Wilderness for the next 20 years. Johnny began his ministry at Poplar Hill Native Reservation where he met his wife Lilly, a fellow missionary. This is where they married and started their family. Johnny, Lilly and their family lived amongst the Native people for 27 years. Over the years they lived in 7 different native reservations and communities, including Cat Lake, Poplar Hill and Sioux Lookout. It was Johnny’s love of the native people and their love and acceptance of him that allowed him to assimilate into the culture and become fluent in the Ojibway language. As a missionary and friend to the Natives, he wrote and translated volumes of work. He and Lilly spoke German, English and Ojibway fluently and enjoyed using all three languages throughout their daily conversations.
After the family returned to Pennsylvania, Johnny began his service with Hopewell Network of Churches. He used his gift to develop leadership and cultivate new church communities. Under his guidance, the Hopewell district grew to 13 churches. Throughout his ministry, Johnny was well known and loved for his dynamic preaching style and infectious love of Jesus.
He returned to his passion for other cultures and worked to develop and bring funding to orphanages in Liberia through African Christian Fellowship International (ACFI). His most recent work has been with missions in Thailand. His passion for travel took him to 17 countries and 4 continents. He was a lover of all things related to words and communication. He was never without a book or a subject he was researching. His passion for politics was rooted in an appreciation for the history of other cultures and how it related to current events.
Johnny was an avid outdoorsman, hunter, fisherman and true adventurer. His favorite time spent outdoors was teaching his children and grandchildren a love and respect of nature.
Johnny was perfectly summed up by the names that the Natives gave him, Babeeshish, which meant ‘The Laughing One’ and Mechingos, which meant ‘Man with the Little Face’. He was larger than life and always knew how to make you feel special. His infectious laughter, supportive words, and the mischievous twinkle in his eye will be greatly missed.
Johnny was happiest when he was surrounded by his family. Left to honor Johnny and remember his love is his wife of 60 years, Lilly Stoltzfus (Burkholder); his four children, Nathan Stoltzfus, Jewell Hatton, Pearl (Kevin) Beiler, and Ruby Price; his eight grandchildren, Chantz Beiler, Chelsea (David) Zapata, Colburn (Caitlin) Beiler, Lorenzo Price, Bronte Price, Chloe Beiler, Alexandra Hatton, and Monroe Price; and his two sisters, Katie Burkholder and Sadie Good. He is predeceased by his parents, Joel and Rebecca Stoltzfus and his brothers Aaron, Amos, Elmer and Jacob.
In lieu of flowers please forward donations in honor of John K. Stoltzfus and his work with the First Nations of Canada to
First Nations Restoration Center –