Two United Brethren ministers in two countries passed away within a day of each other, both from cancer. And there was a strong bond between them. They had been partners in ministry 40 years before.
Yesterday, September 21, Rev. Harold Wust was laid to rest. He passed away last Thursday, September 17. Each of the five Wust children spoke about their father. Then Josh Kesler, pastor of Good Shepherd UB church, which Harold attended, gave a message.
Harold’s father immigrated from Germany to Alberta, Canada, around 1930, and Harold was born there. However, the family returned to Leipzig, Germany, in 1939. In 1940, at age 10, Harold became part of the Hitler Youth, though at that age the Nazi ideology meant little to him.
After the war Harold, a Canadian citizen, returned to Canada on his own. He ended up in Fort Erie, Ontario, where he met Ray Zimmerman, pastor of the Garrison Road United Brethren church. Under the preaching of evangelist Paul Graham, Harold gave his heart to Christ.
Harold went on to become an ordained United Brethren pastor. Then, in 1966, he and wife Dee went to Honduras as UB missionaries. They served one term, 1966-1970. Then Harold accepted a position as Associate Director of Missions, which he held for about 20 years.
The Wusts served in Honduras when the Soccer War broke out between Honduras and El Salvador in July 1969. All Salvadoranians living in Honduras were rounded up and imprisoned. That included several United Brethren pastors in the La Ceiba area.
Guillermo Martinez was one of them. Harold and Guillermo often traveled together to villages and churches throughout northern Honduras. Guillermo pastored the large Ebenezer UB church in La Ceiba, but always loved traveling with Harold to visit the country churches.
After the war broke out, Harold walked with Guillermo to the city’s soccer stadium, where Salvadoranians were being kept in very poor conditions. Guillermo became a leader among the prisoners, and began holding services. During two months of captivity, over 125 men became Christians.
Meanwhile, Harold and Hondurans at the Bethel church (located across the street from the soccer stadium) brought food and other aid to the prisoners.
After the war, the Salvadoranians couldn’t stay in the country. Most returned to El Salvador. But Guillermo Martinez, with his Honduran wife, couldn’t go there. Instead, God opened a door for them to move to Nicaragua, where the UBs had begun work.
Guillermo and Linda Martinez moved to Masaya, Nicaragua, in March 1970 to start a church. During the first ten months, 60 people found Christ. He later became superintendent of Nicaragua Conference, leading them through the turbulent years of the Sandinista revolution and toward the thriving national conference they are today.
Guillermo Martinez passed away September 18 from stomach cancer. Just 36 hours earlier, Harold Wust had died.
Harold had been diagnosed with cancer in January 1999. A surgery removed parts of seven organs. But doctors said his liver was filled with inoperable cancer, and he had 6-12 months to live. But three months later at a cancer center in Texas he was told that there was no sign of cancer in his liver. He had been miraculously healed and given another ten years on this earth.
Now, both Harold and Guillermo have been reunited in heaven.