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Reg Reimer was born in 1940 on Vancouver Island, B. C. When he was four, his family moved to the Chilliwack area, where they began attending the German-speaking Mennonite Brethren church in which Reg was later baptized. After graduating from high school, he moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to attend Grace Bible Institute (GBI). During his second year, he met LaDonna (Donna) Rose Goodwin from Hutchinson, Kansas. They married in the summer of 1961. Reg and Donna have two children: Jay Reimer, born in October 1964, and Jill (Kila) Reimer, born in May 1966.
Reg was expelled from GBI for defending the supposedly deviant theological views of one of his professors. On the advice of this same professor, he decided to pursue further studies at the University of Nebraska. He graduated in 1964 with a B.A. English Literature and a certificate in secondary education.
Reg and Donna were called to missions at the Omaha Gospel Tabernacle, a flagship church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). As one of the conditions of their appointment as missionaries both pursued further studies in Nyack, N.Y. – Reg at the Jaffray School of Mission and Donna at Nyack Missionary College. In 1966 they received an assignment to Vietnam.
The Reimers served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1975. Their first assignment after language study was to the coastal town of Phan Thiet, from which they were evacuated almost immediately during the Tet Offensive of 1968. In 1970 Reg took a leave to attend Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission, where he earned his master’s degree.
During the fall of Vietnam, Reg was sent to Guam to assist the United States military in caring for the thousands of Vietnamese evacuees who had been sent to the island in anticipation of being relocated. His job was to oversee missionaries who were serving as translators and trouble-shooters. For this he received high commendation from a US Navy admiral.
In 1975, Reg spent a year as the missionary-in-residence at Canadian Bible College and Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan. Since 1980, he has made frequent visits to Vietnam, during which he has kept careful record of religious freedom abuses against Protestants. He also served as the representative for Vietnam at the 1974, 1989, 2010 Lausanne Congresses. Since 2009, Reg has returned to Vietnam yearly to give lectures on Protestantism in Vietnamese to government religion and security officials.
In 1976, Reg and Donna were sent to serve as missionaries in Thailand. Reg became the Director of CAMA Services, which did relief and development work among Indochinese refugees. Until 1983 he also served as the director of World Relief US’s work in Southeast Asia, as well as chairing a committee composed of NGO’s, UN agencies, and representatives of the Thai government. During the Cambodian refugee crisis of 1979-1980 he helped lead a relief effort that provided Cambodian peasants with seed and agricultural implements, thereby decreasing their dependence on aid from the West. At the same time he worked with the Mennonite Central Committee and World Relief US to resettle Vietnamese refugees in in Canada and the United States. For his humanitarian work Reg was awarded the Order of the White Elephant medal by the king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej (r. 1946-2016).
In 1983, the Reimers moved to Toronto, so that Reg could become the first president of World Relief Canada (WRC), the relief arm of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. He was seconded to serve as the senior staff member of the World Evangelical Alliance; in this capacity he worked to facilitate reconciliation and healing in Rwanda and Indochina.
In 1997, Reg helped organize the Strategic Vietnam Partnership (SVP) an informal organization dedicated to helping mission agencies in Vietnam coordinate their efforts. In 1998, he joined Interdev (later International Partnering Associates) as the coordinator for mainland Southeast Asia. Reg is now the senior mentor for SVP, and he also serves on the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Religious Liberty Commission. In 2000, he was invited to brief President Bill Clinton on the eve of Clinton’s historic visit to Vietnam.
Reg is the author of Vietnam’s Christians: A Century of Growth and Diversity (Littleton: William Carey Library, 2011) and also co-authored and co-edited Sorrow and Blood: Christian Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution, and Martyrdom (Littleton: William Carey Library, 2012).
This biographical description is a condensation of an autobiography that can be found here