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Mother Becker and the Comanches (1878-1938)

It was the most unlikely of combinations. The Bible Belt’s lone remaining denominational bearer of the Prince of Peace’s message of non-violence—and the most fearsome warrior tribe ever to ride the plains of North America. The greatest of all those Native warriors—and the spiritual warrior, a daughter of German immigrants, whose patience, determination, and impact has perhaps never been surpassed in Oklahoma or America. Together, the Comanches and Mennonites made state, national, and providential history, and Chief Quanah Parker (OKLAHOMANS 1, Chapter 8, Chapter 10, Epilogue) and missionary Magdalena “Mother” Becker were the servant leaders who guided them.

German-born Mennonite missionaries A. J. and Magdalena Becker came to Oklahoma separately in the mid-1890s. They married in Fairview in 1897. The Foreign Mission Board of the Mennonite Brethren Church commissioned them to serve at the Post Oak Mennonite mission in the Comanche country of southwest Oklahoma Territory in 1901.

It was a momentous time in the history of the Comanches and Kiowas, whose reservations (lands reserved for them by the United States Government, and to which they were confined) had since the early 1870s stretched across southwest Oklahoma. These tribes had been ground down by war with the U.S. Army, other Natives, disease, and the hardship of their primitive Southern Plains lives. Now the government allotment process was giving each of the Indians 160 acres of private land, then selling the remainder off to American settlers.

Henry Kohfeld, the first Mennonite Brethren missionary ever sent to the foreign field, had won Quanah’s trust and his permission to plant a mission church on tribal property (OKLAHOMANS 1, Epilogue). But Kohfeld faced his own ordeal in 12 years of ministering to an aboriginal tribe who had lost a savage