Mennonite Mission to India
Titanic passenger Annie Funk Story
At the turn of the last century most of the things we take for granted now, were just beginning to change the way people lived their lives. Electric lights, automobiles, airplanes, cameras, wireless transmission, telephones, motion pictures were all new. It was an exciting time, but a troubling one, too, for a Christian based faith group in the small town of Bally, Pennsylvania. They were Mennonites, descendants of German emigrants. Throughout their history they have been a rural people, traditionally farmers who believed in simple living and in using the Bible as their guide.
This was the world Annie Funk was born into in 1874. It was a world she embraced and loved. So much so, that from early childhood she felt her calling was to spread God’s word throughout the country and beyond. Upon graduating from Bible Training School, she worked with struggling immigrants in Tennessee. In December 1906, her dream of becoming a missionary was realized when she was sent to India as the first female Mennonite missionary.
When a friend expressed fear for her safety on the ocean voyage she said, “Our heavenly Father is as near to us on sea as on land. My trust is in Him.” I have no fear.” In five years her trust would be tested as never before.
Arriving in India, Annie was filled with an exuberant sense of purpose and quickly laid the groundwork for creating a school and hostel for poor girls. She was deeply troubled by the lack of educational opportunities for girls and was determined to help enlighten the community she served. In time, hard work and determination opened hearts and doors to acceptance and understanding.
Annie hadn’t left her post in five years, but when told her Mother was seriously ill she immediately packed her bags and set-off on the long journey home. On her 38th birthday she boarded Titanic in Southampton, England, not knowing she had only 5 more days to live. It could have been longer, she could have survived the sinking but in a final act of courage and sacrifice, she got out of a lifeboat to give her seat to a young mother and baby. Annie’s body was never identified.
Annie Funk will never be forgotten, her memory and charitable spirit lives on at the Titanic Museum Attraction.