Judith Eileen (Judy) was born in Morris, Man., on Nov. 13, 1953, to Frank and Marge Kroeker. She received Christ as her Saviour at age five as a result of revival meetings. Most of her growing years were spent in Paraguay where her parents were missionaries. She was baptized upon her faith at age 16 in the EMC church in Lucero, East Paraguay.
She met David Schmidt there and they were married in 1972. Four children were born to them, two in Canada and two in Paraguay. They served as missionaries to the Guarani natives in Santa Teresa for 13 years, together with Anne Braun and Sara Loeppky, and were later joined by Doug and Sandra Doerksen.
They went through many difficult experiences both physically and spiritually. During an extended leave in Canada, they served as pastors of the Roseisle EMC. All these experiences served as preparation for the future HIV/AIDS ministry.
During the three and a half years doing church-planting in Pastoreo, they got to know Alicia. Because of family needs, they moved to Asuncion. Alicia’s AIDS diagnosis led them to start Alto Refugio, ministering to HIV/AIDS patients. The ministry grew and God provided the workers to continue the ministry to this day.
They retired from EMC Missions and began a new ministry for people living with HIV under Operation Mobilization (OM) in Ciudad del Este. After only nine months in this growing ministry called Conexion Vida, Judy was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. They left Ciudad del Este and the ministry to undergo treatment in Asunción and returned to Lucero in between treatments. Their passion for this ministry kept them praying for God to raise up workers to carry on the work in Ciudad del Este.
During her battle with pancreatic cancer, two of Judy’s dreams were fulfilled: they built their house in Lucero and they traveled to Canada to see her parents one more time. They prayed, believing that God would heal so they could keep on serving Him. He has the last word when it comes to complete healing, and He has never failed His children. His mercies have been new every morning; great is His faithfulness.
Right up to the end, it was obvious that Judy’s heart’s concern and desire was for the people she knew and loved to be saved and to meet them in heaven before Jesus Christ. She was released from tremendous suffering while in her home on Dec. 9, 2017. The funeral service took place in the Tres Palmas EMC in Paraguay on the following day.
Judy leaves to mourn: Dave, her husband for 46 years; her four children: Anton and Faith Schmidt, Marvin and Heidi Schmidt, Jerald and Daniela Schmidt, and Wendy and Samuel Avalos with their families; 15 grandchildren; her parents; five siblings and their families.