Due to the COVID pandemic, Glen Reiff was buried by his family in a private ceremony at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 5, 2020, at the Riverside Memorial Park, Tequesta, Florida. An online global celebration service of Glen’s life will be held during the Hobe Sound Bible Church and Hope International Missions Mission Conference on Sunday, October 4, 2020, at 2:00 pm EST. There will also be an online Spanish memorial service later that afternoon/early evening. The service can be viewed at hobesoundbiblechurch.com or via FEA Ministries Facebook Live.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that contributions be made to the Glen Reiff Memorial Fund at either of the following organizations:
FEA Ministries/Hope International Missions (HIM) Hispanic Ministries
via the form on this page or
P.O. Box 1065, Hobe Sound, Florida, 33475
Evangelistic Faith Missions (EFM) Guatemala Ministries
at efm-missions.org or
P.O. Box 609, Bedford, Indiana, 47421.
Remembering a Missionary Hero
Glen Edward Reiff, age 85, went home to be with his Lord on August 31, 2020, surrounded by his family. He was born May 1, 1935, in Ogallala, Nebraska, to Dennis and Emma (Nacke) Reiff. His father pastored several churches in different states and then served as a college president in Colorado Springs. In 1947 when Glen was twelve, his parents moved to Guatemala where they planted churches, started a radio station, founded several schools and a Bible institute that became part of Evangelistic Faith Missions. Glen was active in the family ministry, learned how to play various musical instruments and taught his new friends and students how to play as well. Glen helped organize a musical band that would travel by jeep into remote villages to play and attract the community to come attend the open-air evangelistic services. Glen spent his teen years chasing poisonous snakes, building a six-foot-wide model wooden airplane, climbing volcanos, and helping build newly planted churches with lumber purchased at a lumber yard operated by Fidel Castro.
Because of political turmoil, in 1953 Glen and his brother Paul were in danger of being conscripted into the Guatemalan army. Their parents sent them back to the United States where Glen lived and worked with relatives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Within a few months he enrolled at God’s Bible School (GBS) where Dr. Leslie Wilcox permitted him to begin college classes conditional on Glen’s commitment to finish his course work for his high school diploma. Unfortunately, his high school correspondence courses took a backseat as he took a full load of college courses and worked forty hours a week to pay his own way through college and was active in church ministry by driving a church bus on Sundays picking up children and taking them to Sunday School.
While enrolled at GBS, a pretty southern girl from Pulaski, Virginia, caught his eye. After he worked up the courage, Glen asked Barbara Nell Thornton out on a date. They soon discovered they had both received a call to be missionaries at twelve years of age. Glen soon completed his college course work, creating a dilemma for the academic dean. He still had not completed his high school classes and therefore did not have his diploma. The dean did not want to let him graduate, but Glen’s GPA was the highest in the class, making him the valedictorian. The dean and Glen came to a resolution—Glen would be allowed to graduate as valedictorian in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in theology, but he would not receive his diploma until he completed the required high school classes. It was five years after he graduated from GBS that he would earn his high school diploma.
Glen returned to Guatemala to rejoin his parents and their missions efforts. Nell still had a couple of years to finish at GBS, so they continued dating through letters that took weeks to arrive. Occasionally he would go into town to a community telephone to call his college sweetheart. Often he had to stand in line waiting his turn, then had to shout across static-filled lines over the noise in the marketplace.
Glen eventually proposed to Nell by mail and anxiously awaited her reply. It took several weeks before he received the long anticipated “yes.” They married in 1958 in Pulaski, Virginia, took a brief honeymoon and then began their adventurous drive across the USA, through Mexico and into Guatemala. Glen looked forward to introducing his new bride to his family and friends and the beautiful country known as “the land of eternal springtime” that he called home. It was not long before they were traveling into remote villages planting churches and establishing new preaching outposts that would eventually become churches as well.
The Reiffs continued ministering in various mountain communities in Guatemala. Nell was expecting their first child when she began experiencing complications resulting in Darrell’s arrival two and a half months early. Stanley joined the family, and then they moved to El Salvador to begin planting churches there in response to various communities requesting they come help them.
In 1970 Glen and Nell were reassigned to Guatemala City where he provided oversight to the missionary work throughout Latin America. A couple of years later Glen determined he needed to change his strategies. He became a bi-vocational missionary and teamed up with Don Fausto Cebeira, a local businessman in Guatemala City. Glen became a factory manager, leading Bible studies for the various shifts of factory employees. His leadership increased the profitability of the factory, allowing Don Fausto to invest in many mission opportunities including planting churches and funding a Bible institute and a Christian day school, a Christian bookstore, and a ministry showing Christian evangelistic films, just to name a few.
During this exciting time Glen and Nell welcomed Duane into their family. Two years later as Glen and Nell were making plans to move the family back to the United States to put their two older boys in high school, the devastating earthquake of 1976 hit, destroying properties and killing thousands of Guatemalans. The Reiff family spent the next four to five months doing relief work—providing food and shelter for thousands of displaced families—before relocating to the United States.
After thirty years in Guatemala Glen experienced bittersweet emotions at leaving his adopted homeland and lifelong friends. But he also sensed a deep sense of duty as head of his family and a strong desire to give his boys an opportunity to experience the American culture and to receive an education in the USA. They arrived in Hobe Sound, Florida, in 1976 to begin a new stage of their lives. Glen taught at Hobe Sound Bible College, and Nell served as a receptionist. Glen also pursued graduate studies earning his MDiv and DMin from Luther Rice Seminary.
Guatemala was in the middle of a civil war that lasted thirty-six years. Thousands of people fled to the United States. A large group ended up in Indiantown, Florida—not far from Hobe Sound—where they could harvest crops and support their families. As Glen met these people and heard their heart-wrenching stories, he longed to help them. He and Nell discussed various options and came up with the idea of converting an “eighteen-wheeler” truck and trailer into a mobile chapel. Nell’s brothers worked for a trucking company and negotiated the purchase of two eighteen-wheelers at a low cost. The Mobile Chapel soon was being used to hold English and Spanish church services and classes. Glen and Nell quickly coined their new missions venture as their “semi-evangelism.” Volunteers from Hobe Sound Bible Church and Hobe Sound Bible College helped teach migrant workers to speak and read English, how to follow local laws, where to bargain shop, and other helpful information. Glen’s innovative and effective educational methods outperformed government efforts, resulting in him being hired by Martin County School District to teach for them during the week. This funded the ministry for church services on weekends. He was awarded teacher of the year in Martin County for his effectiveness in training adult learners.
Many Spanish speakers discovered a God that loved them and placed their faith in Him and continued to grow in their faith. Soon these enthusiastic, transformed individuals began planting churches throughout south Florida and then Georgia, Delaware, and other areas with concentrations of Spanish speaking communities. Others returned to their countries of birth to plant churches at home. Today Hope International Missions (HIM) has eighteen Spanish churches in the United States with two more being started in 2020.
In 1994 Nell developed an aggressive cancer and in less than four months, she went to be with her Lord and Savior. After thirty-seven years of marriage Glen was devastated. He was lost without his helpmate and best friend. This was a very difficult season, but God was faithful, and Glen realized God was not through with him yet.
Flashback to Guatemala in the early 1970s—Glen and Nell had worked with missionary Helen Leigh, whom their boys called “Aunt Helen” in typical missionary-kid tradition. In 1995 Hobe Sound Christian Academy hired Helen to teach. She and Glen began to become reacquainted and to catch up on their lives since their mission years a couple of decades earlier. Soon Glen realized Helen was filling the relational gap and the loneliness he felt. The twinkle in his bright blue eyes and his contagious laughter returned. He asked Helen out on their first date and within several months he proposed. On July 19, 1996, Glen and Helen were married.
Glen and Helen shared life together for over twenty-four years. They returned to Guatemala as missionaries for several years, traveled the world preaching and teaching, and eventually returned to Hobe Sound to teach classes in the Spanish Institute, to work in the FEA Ministries, Inc. office and to travel as often as possible to visit their families. Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren enjoyed their doting as did many other children. They attended Iglesia Evangelica de Santidad “Monte Horeb” Spanish church and Hobe Sound Bible Church, both in Hobe Sound.
Glen was predeceased by his parents Dennis and Emma Reiff and his first wife Barbara Nell Reiff. He is survived by his second wife Helen Reiff; his children Darrell and Debby Reiff, Stanley and Amy Reiff, and Duane and Amy Reiff; his six grandsons Stanley Preston Jr., Quinten Glen (Elise), Everett Carey (Rachel), Duane Stuart Jr. (Morgan), Michael Thornton, and Toler Edward; his two great-grandsons Zeke William and Theo Dwight; and his brother Paul.