Arnold, Johann Christoph RIFTON, N.Y. "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called" 1 Timothy 6:12 Johann Christoph Arnold "fought the good fight" and was called home to Jesus on Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017, at the age of 76. Brother and friend to all, faithful husband to his wife, Verena for almost 51 years, father and "Opa" to many, pastor, senior elder of the Bruderhof Communities, chaplain, author and speaker, Christoph inspired thousands to believe in Jesus, their own special worth in God's eyes, and hope for purpose in life through a message of love and forgiveness as a power to overcome any obstacle and trouble. His language was powerful, mixing humor with simple words to deliver a singular message that cut to the heart of the matter in any audience. A man of deeds over words and lover of life, he would prefer to connect over sausage and beer rather than intellectual discussion. His parents, Johann Heinrich and Annemarie Arnold, were members of the Bruderhof, a Christian Community founded in Germany by his grandfather Eberhard Arnold. Because of Nazi religious persecution, his parents fled to England along with other members of their church, where Christoph was born on November 14, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. In 1942, all members of the Bruderhof were forced to emigrate to Paraguay, South America, because of anti-German sentiment. Here he had a rugged but happy childhood, even as the adults struggled to build home and livelihood in the harsh climate of the disease and pest infested jungle. In 1954, Christoph moved to the Woodcrest Community in Rifton, which would be home for the rest of his life. He attended Kingston High School where he learned the English language, ran cross country, and picked up a life-long love of Shakespeare. He graduated from Orange County Community College in 1960 with a degree in business and began working for Community Playthings, the growing business of Bruderhof Communities, and the Plough Publishing House. On May 22, 1966, he married the love of his life, Verena Meier, beginning a family which would be blessed with eight children. He was ordained as pastor in 1972, then elder of the Bruderhof Communities in 1983, and then senior elder from 2001 until his death. Under his leadership and with the blessing of God, the Bruderhof Communities expanded from North America back into Europe, Australia, South America, and added many small community houses in urban settings. A tireless author, Christoph wrote 12 books which have been published in 20 languages on issues he was passionate about such as marriage, family, raising and educating children, forgiveness, death and dying, peace and faith. He collected many stories from people all over the world to illustrate his message in a practical and down-to-earth manner. Perhaps his most widely read and best-loved book is titled Why Forgive? His tireless work for peace through forgiveness and reconciliation was influenced first by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and by his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. This vocation brought him in contact with thousands of people including hundreds of religious and political leaders of good and ill repute throughout the world, often in troubled hotspots of war, conflict and natural disaster, such as Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Nigeria, Chiapas, Mexico, Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti and Thailand. Closest to his heart was the state of the children because of the breakdown of family and social values. Alarmed by the escalating violence after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, Christoph helped found Breaking the Cycle, a program aimed at teaching middle and high-school students - including incarcerated youth - conflict resolution through forgiveness. Speaking with N.Y.P.D. Detective Steven MacDonald who forgave the young man who shot and paralyzed him while in the line of duty, former gang members, family members of victims of suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, Christoph's powerful assemblies addressed life's problems at their roots: bullying, peer pressure, isolation, loneliness, racism and intolerance. Despite all of this, he was never too busy to counsel his own congregations, helping found families, raise children, heal broken marriages, face sickness and crisis bravely, or bury a parent or a child. His advice was always tempered with a healthy dose of humor, which he believed was indispensable in any situation. His flock included many people beyond the Bruderhof community. Especially dear to him were members of Law Enforcement. He served as chaplain to the Ulster County Sheriff's Office and Ulster County Police Chiefs Association. Christoph leaves behind his wife of 51 years, Verena Meier Arnold; seven of their eight children, Emmy Maria and Michael Blough, Heinrich and Wilma Arnold, Vreneli and Raymond Hofer, Annemarie and Tim Keiderling, Hanna and Chris Rimes, Chris and Estelle Arnold, and Priscilla and Red Zimmerman; and 44 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his granddaughter, Stephanie Jean Rimes, who died in 2008 at the age of one month; and by his daughter, Margrit Zimmerman, married to Reuben Zimmerman, who died in 2015 at the age of 45, also of cancer. Visiting hours are from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, at the Woodcrest Community in Rifton. A public funeral service and interment is scheduled for 9 a.m., Thursday, April 20, also at the Woodcrest Community. Call 845-658-7700 for more information. Some of his last words were, "The main thing is that God's kingdom advances, and if any one of us had the chance to play a little part in it, it's not because we are great or mighty, but because God is merciful and he's granting us the possibility to show love. God is the Creator of everything. All he wants in return is that we love and worship him, and most of all Thank Him!"- Johann Christoph Arnold, Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017.
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