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Meredythe Scheflen

Founder of Bolivian Evangelical University
"A Champion for Education"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2011

Born in 1926, Meredythe Scheflen was raised in Merchantville, New Jersey, enjoying an affluent childhood because her father was a well-established lawyer with a successful law practice.

Meredythe and her brother regularly attended Sunday School and church, but she confessed it “was more social than spiritual.”

At the age of 12, Meredythe joined the church youth group although she “had no desire to be especially religious.” One night, she heard the testimony of the youth pastor’s wife and began searching for salvation. She accepted Christ a week later on February 4, 1939. Just two months later,

Meredythe felt the call to preach the gospel in China.

Meredythe attended Asbury University (Kentucky) and graduated in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in English and speech. She went on to Malone University (Ohio) where she earned a degree in theology. The university president, Arnold Hodgin, encouraged her to follow her call to missions and arranged a meeting for Meredythe with the board of the National Holiness Missionary Society, which we know today as World Gospel Mission.

In the years following World War II, China became closed to missionaries, so Meredythe received a new appointment to Bolivia. After language study in Costa Rica, Meredythe arrived in Bolivia in 1952. In a Call to Prayer article Meredythe wrote, “This at last was Bolivia! Here was the fulfillment of the dreams and plans of many years, the fruit of the earnest prayers and costly sacrifices of God’s people, and a witness to the glorious truth that ‘Faithful is He who calleth you who also will do it’!”

Meredythe accomplished many great things during her years in Bolivia. A champion for education, she founded Rio Nuevo Grade School, Berea High School, Berea Bible Seminary, and Bolivian Evangelical University. BEU was the first private, Spanish-speaking evangelical university in South America and is one of the most respected schools in Bolivia.

“There was never a challenge or obstacle that she was not ready and willing to face in her ministry,” said Dennis Johnson, who served in Bolivia for 20 years. “Even in retirement, Meredythe continued to pour her life into others while helping them become fruitful and committed servants of God and responsible citizens of Bolivia. Many of the private education advances made in Bolivia during the past 60 years can be attributed to the influence and testimony of Meredythe Scheflen.”

On May 23, 2003, Meredythe was the first non-Bolivian rector to be awarded the country’s gold Medallion of Merit to the degree of Comendadora, which is given by the Bolivian Ministry of Education. She officially retired from WGM in 2003 after 53 years of service and continued to live in Bolivia, serving as a life member of BEU’s board as well as chancellor for the university until her passing on August 22, 2011.

With deep appreciation, World Gospel Mission honors the memory of Meredythe Scheflen for selflessly giving of her gifts and talents to the Lord’s service. Her witness and testimony have touched countless lives in Bolivia and around the world for Jesus Christ.

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