Died 25 February 2011, aged 36
By Vikki Wright
“Truth is absolute!” declared Ebel Kremer, and he demonstrated it by dropping a Coca-Cola bottle onto the cement floor of the classroom. The bottle shattered, we jumped, and Ebel grinned, saying, “Just as the truth of gravity is absolute, so the Truth of Jesus is absolute!” That was one of the most important values that Ebel lived by, and he spoke passionately about it. Tragically, Ebel spoke his last during the early morning hours on Friday, 25th February, 2011 when armed thieves entered his house and took his life.
At the time, Ebel, 36, and his wife, Lora, 34, together with their two young children, Levi and Esra, were working with the YWAM base in Athi River, Kenya. Ebel was leading a project called the Maanzoni Children’s Village, which aimed to develop a village of 8 homes to accommodate foster families caring for up to 12 children each. The first home had been completed, and Ebel was overseeing the building of the second.
Ebel and Lora did their DTS in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa, and went to Mozambique on outreach. Afterwards travelled in Namibia where Ebel, always one for adventure, encouraged Lora, who was pregnant at the time, to sandsurf down the highest sand dune in the world.
Back in their hometown of Groningen, the Netherlands, Ebel worked as a police officer, but his heart was still in Africa. In 2008, God led them to Kenya where they joined the Athi River base. Ebel’s desire for Godly justice carried over from his years in the police force into his missionary calling. Martin Baraza, the base leader of YWAM Athi River, said, “Ebel was a man that fought for justice, especially for the downtrodden of the community. He really empathized when he saw children who didn’t go to school…he wanted justice for all.”
Reflecting more on their friendship, Baraza said, “Ebel was a very close friend to me and my family. He was very honest and so forthright in his life. One thing that really impressed me about him was that whenever he had a conflict with someone, he never let the sun go down…he always went to resolve the conflict because his conscience would not let him leave relationships in a bad way. He loved people, and his family, and God, and he loved this mission a lot.”
In October, 2010, Ebel, Lora and their kids, together with Martin Baraza, went to YWAM Arua, Uganda to attend the six-week Leadership Development Course (LDC). During the LDC, participants met weekly in triplets for prayer and encouragement. Jeremiah Kiwinda, National leader of YWAM Tanzania, was in the prayer triplet with Ebel. “One of the many things I liked about Ebel,” Jeremiah said, “was that you knew where you stood with him because he spoke his heart. He was also willing to listen to new ideas, and was open to correction. I enjoyed him because, even though I’m a leader in the region, he felt free to speak honestly into my life, and that was really precious.”
Beate Kiwinda, who also attended the LDC with her husband, Jeremiah, remembers the times they shared as neighbours with Ebel and Lora: “I can still see Ebel sitting outside of his room with Esra or Levi on his lap, talking to them, teaching them or just having fun with them. He loved the kids! One day we had the whole neighbourhood of children on our veranda and you can imagine the noise. It was too much for Ebel, but instead of sending them home, he just went and sat in his car and read his Bible. He took the other boys from the YWAM base to the swimming pool and talked to them like he did with his own kids…loving them, training them, trusting them. He was a very special person.”
Among his many talents, Ebel was also a gifted musician. Throughout the LDC, Ebel played the keyboard with the worship team and blessed us with his passion to seek God. “His heart was to see the kingdom of God moving everywhere,” said Aboud Jondit, National Leader of YWAM Sudan, and the third member of Ebel’s prayer triplet during the LDC. “He was a lovely man, a visionary man. His heart and the way he lived with his family really touched my life, because his heart was for other people. The passion that Ebel had…I don’t know who will take that place.”
In truth, no one will take Ebel’s place. He was unique in every way. Lora said of her husband, “Ebel was like an elephant in a China shop…his direct manner was sometimes difficult for the Africans. He wanted to go for truth, the total, absolute truth. He had a passion for teaching and loved to speak on world-view to help people see where change needed to come. When I went to identify him in the morgue, a sense of pride swept over me. Ebel was passionate about his call, his work, how he loved his children, his family, his wife! I felt a great gratitude of having known this man as my husband, and all that he had been able to invest in this continent and in Kenya.”
Garry Tissingh, member of the Africa Leadership Team as well as the LDC school leader and Ebel’s one-on-one mentor, said, “Ebel was a passionate guy who was full of life and who really touched people. He had this spontaneity to just get into gear and be committed and say what he thought, which to me was very refreshing. It encouraged and stimulated me to be more spontaneous myself. He didn’t hide anything; he was just true to who he was.”
True to himself, true to others, true to Jesus. “Truth is absolute!” Ebel’s physical voice may have been silenced, but his words still resonate in the hearts of the many who loved him. May Ebel’s legacy live on in Africa, and may the seeds he sowed produce a harvest of righteousness to the glory of God.