Reverend Roland Jennings, age 89, of Little Falls, Minnesota, passed away peacefully into the arms of His Savior, Jesus Christ, on May 17, 2020, at St. Otto’s Care Center in Little Falls.
Due to the ongoing health pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date. Information regarding donations in lieu of flowers will be announced at that time. Roland will be buried at the Springbrook Cemetery, Swanville, Minn., with a graveside service, surrounded by his loving family.
Roland is survived by his loving wife and constant companion, Rachel Jennings of Little Falls, Minn.; his three children, Elisabeth (Jeff) Loving of Arvada, Colo.; Daniel Jennings of Little Falls, Minn.; and Samuel (Mindi) Jennings of Colorado Springs, Colo. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren, Jesse (Alyse) Loving, Peter (Jenna) Loving, and Josiah Loving; Shanda, Joshua and Hannah Jennings; and Caleb and Jacob Jennings. He is also survived by Hawthorne (Reilly) Hynds, whom he considered to be his sister; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Roger (Esther) Schrage; and mother-in-law, Elaine (Johnson) Schrage.
Roland was preceded in death by his birth mother, Emily (Jennings) Hingston, whom he discovered after her death while searching for his roots in 1982. He is also preceded in death by his daughter-in-law, Darla (Wessels) Jennings; sister-in-law, Alice (Brubaker) Schrage; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Kenny and Clarice (Schrage) Craven; mother-in-law, Florence (Booher) Schrage; father-in-law August Schrage; and Dick Reilly whom he considered his brother.
Born in County Cork in the Republic of Ireland on the third of June in 1930, Roland was placed in numerous orphanages in Dublin, Ireland and throughout the surrounding countryside until ten years of age. While there were not a lot of pleasant memories of his early childhood, Roland grew up attending the Church of Ireland which is where he learned and memorized numerous Bible verses. As a teenager, the Lord used these verses to draw Roland to Himself.
On October 4 in 1940, Roland’s “day of release” from the orphanage finally arrived, and he was taken to County Armagh, Northern Ireland to live in the home of Dick and Maria Reilly, a kind-hearted family with two children, Dick and Hawthorne, whom he fondly considered his brother and sister. He enjoyed singing hymns along with the radio, attending church and Sunday School during these “war years,” and worked at a local farm earning enough to buy his first bicycle. It was at this farm where Roland discovered his love of gardening, planting his first strawberry patch. Roland continued his vigor for bicycle riding and delight for his vegetable garden well into his late ’80s.
On March 3 in 1948, a day Roland remembered every year, at Derryhubbert Mission Hall, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Roland surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. “Oh, what a relief and what peace and joy to know my sins were forgiven and I could testify that God had saved me and given me eternal life,” Roland recounted. For the next number of years, Roland took part in revival meetings at Derrycrew Mission Hall, praying, singing, preaching, and sharing salvation through Jesus Christ to everyone he met. Feeling the call to become a missionary, Roland obeyed the Lord and attended Lebanon Missionary Bible College in England for two years. Soon after, Roland applied to Worldwide Evangelization Crusade in London, England, and was accepted to work with Christian Literature Crusade in Brazil.
Arriving in Brazil in 1958, Roland opened a Christian bookstore in Porto Alegre and delivered books to the remote interior. After a few years, he met and married the love of his life and fellow missionary, Rachel Ruth (Schrage) Jennings on November 16, 1963, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Soon after, they planted a church in the small village of Pequi, where they raised two of their three children, Elisabeth (Jennings) Loving and Daniel Jennings. The thriving church remains till this day. Roland’s third child, Samuel Jennings was born in Northern Ireland while home on furlough.
In 1976, Roland moved his family to Minnesota and became a licensed worker with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). Roland became the pastor of the C&MA church in Onamia, Minn., in 1978. In 1986, Roland began pastoring the C&MA church in Swanville, Minn., and driving bus for the Swanville school district until he was 71 years of age. After nine years in Swanville, Roland and Rachel retired to Little Falls, Minn., where Roland became the visitation pastor of the C&MA church in Little Falls where he served the Lord faithfully well into his ’80s and continued his life-long devotion to prayer until his final days.
“As I look back down the years, I am amazed at the goodness and faithfulness of God. He has been awesome, great, and wonderful. I can only give Him praise, glory and honor for His calvary love for one so unworthy.” – Roland Jennings