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Francis Miller

AIR #119
April 8, 1973

Pastor John Franz and his wife had gone one Saturday to a school meeting at the Independent School northeast of Bloomfield. Soon after the meeting convened, a stranger came in and asked Pastor Franz to come outside. The minister complied and was immediately seized and dragged to a waiting car.

Mrs. Franz, realizing something was amiss, hurried out to the car but she was knocked down and left unconscious as the car drove away. As they headed toward Glendive, a rope and shovels on the floor of the car mutely announced their intentions.

Any doubt as to their intentions vanished when they stopped beside a large tree and looped one end of the rope over a branch. While this was being done the men argued among themselves and Pastor Franz prayed.

As they led him to the tree where the noose hung ready, he noticed the county attorney and the sheriff in the group. He pointed out to them that he was an American citizen, as was his father, and his grandfather was a naturalized citizen. "If you kill me," he told them, "you will be murderers. Think of that!"

Some of the men had been drinking and were in no mood to listen to reason but the sheriff, realizing they could run into serious consequences, managed to persuade them to take Franz to the jail in Glendive.

In the meantime, the church members gathered to pray while some of the leaders of the congregation took Mrs. Franz to Glendive where she was allowed to see her husband.

Nothing was done about the matter Sunday but Monday a trial - at least a period of interrogation - was held. Franz was then returned to jail and bond was set at $3,000.

Officials were sure the money could not be raised but within three hours of the time they received the information, his church had the $3,000 ready. This show of confidence in, and concern for, their pastor amazed county officials.

John was allowed to return to his home on the condition that he report to Glendive each month to answer any questions that might come up. However, before the end of the first month the bond money was returned and a letter informed him that he would not have to come in for questioning.

Later friends around the Mennonite community learned that the county officials had heard false stories about the Mennonites. Lawyers urged Pastor Franz to sue the officers and business men responsible for his abduction but he just quoted the Bible verse, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." And he let the Lord take care of the matter.

 

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