Breakfast With Jonathan Larson: "Father of Proverbs," "Wild Man of Africa"

Duration 1 hour

On MONDAY morning, Nov. 12, 7:30 – 9:00 in EMU’s West Dining Room, Jonathan Larson will share parts of his life-story with us.
Some of you had the privilege of seeing the documentary of Dan Terry, Weaving Life, two weeks ago, in which Jonathan, a life-long friend of Terry, was featured at length. So you may feel you’ve already met Jonathan. But on Monday morning Jonathan will talk about his own life, not about Dan Terry’s. Though a direct comparison is not possible, you may well find Jonathan’s own life to be as courageous and fully as intriguing as was Terry’s.

Of Minnesotan Swedish Baptist birth, Jonathan grew up a missionary kid in India, where he was home-schooled by his mother, then sent off to the Woodstock International School (in the mountains of northern India) for his high school years. Here at Woodstock his Methodist MK roommate was Dan Terry. Here too, he met Mary Kay Burkhalter, a Mennonite MK from Berne, IN, who was to become the companion of his life. At the end of high school Jonathan, with Dan Terry and fellow adventurers, made their wild over-land trek from Karala (India) to Rotterdam, across Pakistan and Afghanistan, in a VW bus (AKA “hippie wagon”), and forever thereafter remained in love with the Afghan terrain and its peoples!

In 1970 Jonathan and Mary Kay arrived in Europe for language study in preparation for MCC’s Teacher’s Abroad Program (TAP) in the Congo (Zaire). In Kinshasa they encountered the early years of the terrifying African HIV/AIDS pandemic—“a seminal experience that set the direction for the rest of life,” as Jonathan would later testify. It sent both Jonathan and Mary Kay back to the States for retooling—Jonathan with a seminary degree for service in the church (the “community of Christians on the ground,” of greatest service in that dire need) and Mary Kay with a masters in public health. By 1981 they were back in Africa, but this time in Botswana: a first term under the religious auspices of COM; a second term under the US Center for Disease Control, during which time they lived in US Government housing. Jonathan (who by now was known as “a serious loose cannon”), among other responsibilities, wrote a regular column in the Embassy Newsletter. Jonathan and Mary Kay currently live in Atlanta, GA, where Mary Kay continues her AIDS work with the US Center for Disease Control.

Jonathan: A Mennonite minister with a sometimes African spirituality, culturally integrated to be dubbed with the legendary title, “Wild man of Africa,” with poetic erudition to earn him the Botswanian honorary title, “Father of Proverbs.”

If you wish to eat a full breakfast please go through the cafeteria line, then join us with your food in the West Dining Room. Coffee and pastries will be provided. Please share this announcement with your friends and others interested in Jonathan’s life and times—his savvy social involvement, his poetic linguistic skills.

MennoMedia will have both the documentary, “Weaving LIfe,” and the newly released book written by Jonathan, “Making Friends Among the Taliban,” for sale. Jonathan will be available to autograph your copy.

Intended Audience General Public


Contact Information

Name Anabaptist Center

Phone # 540.432.4465