George and Theresa Chen from Taipei, Taiwan, visit with Janet Sprunger and her daughter, Meribeth Sprunger Kraybill, in Janet's home at the Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Photo provided.

By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Janet Frost Sprunger served four decades with Commission on Overseas Mission, modeling Spirit-led and culturally sensitive mission that inspired discipleship in local church communities.  

GOSHEN, Indiana (Mennonite Mission Network) — Colleagues and mission partners remember Janet Clare Frost Sprunger as a mentor during the four decades she dedicated to ministry in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Janet, 92, died Sept. 13, at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg where she resided.

When Theresa Chen received the news of Janet's passing, she wrote from Taipei, Taiwan: "I feel very sad. I feel that I've lost a pastor, a mentor, and a good friend. It is not unlike saying goodbye to her when we had to part ways after each gathering. But this time, I know she is happily reunited with the Lord, whom she loves very much."

Fellow mission workers fondly look back on Janet and her husband, Hugh, as those who showed the way to minister with empathy.

Marietta and Sheldon Sawatzky served 47 years in Taiwan and in mission administration with Mennonite Mission Network as well as one of its predecessor agencies, Commission on Overseas Mission. The Sawatzkys wrote, "Janet and Hugh were our mentors and role models. They were deeply loved and respected for their humble, wise, and effective service with the Taiwan Mennonite Church and mission community."

A couple engaged in a sensitive ministry wrote that the Sprungers were "mentors, leaders, and substitute family members" during their years together in Hong Kong.  

In a condolence letter, Mike Sherrill, executive director of Mission Network, thanked the Sprunger children for sharing their mother's time and love with the world. Through her long years of service in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Janet had a special concern for people's suffering and modeled Spirit-led, practical, and culturally sensitive mission that inspired discipleship in the local church community, he wrote.

"Through faith active in love, Janet served both physical needs and spiritual needs, holding the two together as she persevered to see a truly kingdom-building church in Asia. It is a joy to witness how God continues to bless that church and other projects in which Janet lovingly invested so many years of service," Sherrill wrote.

Nancy Sprunger Kettelhut wrote that it was a privilege to see the true alignment of her parents' faith, words, and actions.

"Mom was humble and sought to help and serve anyone or any place that there was need. She was a good listener and an encourager always pointing to God as the source of love, peace, forgiveness, provision, and help. Mom's heart was in Taiwan," Nancy wrote. 

Janet was born July 16, 1928, to Georgia (Pottinger) and Sidney Frost in Racine, Wisconsin. She studied at Asbury College, Kentucky, and at Wesley Memorial School of Nursing in Chicago. In 1950, she married Hugh David Sprunger.

Four years later, Hugh and Janet Sprunger were the first Commission on Overseas Mission workers to be sent to Taiwan. They were instrumental in planting several Mennonite churches and mentoring new pastors (1954-1978). They also served in the ministries of the Mennonite churches in Hong Kong (1980-1994.)

In addition to her parents and spouse, Janet was preceded in death by her brother, Warren Frost, and son-in-law, Jim Kettelhut.

She is survived by five children: Cynthia Sprunger (Steve) Fogleman of Fairfax, Virginia; Nancy Sprunger Kettelhut of Fairfax; Meribeth Sprunger Kraybill (Art Stoltzfus) of Harrisonburg, Virginia; Michael (Alonna) Sprunger of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Mark (Angela) Sprunger of Lancaster. Janet is also survived by thirteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Janet's request that her body be donated to the Virginia State Anatomical Program for medical research was honored. Her family has designated new church planting ministries of the Fellowship of Mennonite Churches in Taiwan (FOMCIT) as the recipient of memorial gifts. Checks may be written to First Mennonite Church with "Janet Sprunger memorial" in the memo line and mailed to First Mennonite Church, P.O. Box 111, Berne, IN, 46711.

Online condolences may be offered at


​Lynda Hollinger-Janzen is a writer for Mennonite Mission Network.



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