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Henri Monnier
1896 to 1944
Seventh-day Adventist
Rwanda


Henri Monnier was a Swiss Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) missionary in Rwanda. Born in Pieterien, Bern Canton, the fifth of twelve children, he worked in the watch-making industry after eight years of formal education. He moved to London in the watch trade in 1915 and in 1919 married Winfred Maddams. A few months later, D. E. Delhove, a Belgian missionary who had worked in East Africa, persuaded the couple to accompany him to Rwanda, which had just became a Belgian trust territory. Arriving in 1919, they occupied two of the former Bethel Lutheran mission stations. Winfred died at Kirinda in 1920, shortly after childbirth. Delhove established Gitwe, near Nyanza, and Monnier settled at Rwankeri, in the northwest. In 1924 Monnier returned to Switzerland and married Olga Pavlov, who joined him in his work. Monnier and Delhove employed the traditional threefold Protestant missionary approach of the time, which included direct communication of the gospel, networks of schools, and medical dispensary work. Monnier exerted a powerful influence upon the Banyarwanda and in the early 1930s this work culminated in one of the most notable people movements in SDA mission history. Hutu and Tutsi were united in an outbreak of enthusiasm that brought thousands into the church. Monnier was a natural linguist and an active member of the British and Foreign Bible Society-sponsored team that translated the Bible into Kinyarwanda under the direction of H. E. Guilleband. The Kinyarwanda New Testament was published in 1931; Monnier worked on revisions and on parts of the Old Testament for the remainder of his life. He died of typhoid fever in Beirut, Lebanon, during a trip. In addition to his translation work, which included a hymnal, Monnier wrote a Kinyarwanda grammar for English-speaking people and a series of Kinyarwanda pamphlets on the gospel and the major doctrines of the Christian church. Bibliography A. Long, "Christianity in Rwanda, with Special Emphasis on the Seventh-day Adventist Church," (M.A. thesis, Andrews Univ., 1973); Ian Linden, Church and Revolution in Rwanda (1977); "Monnier, Henri" and "Rwanda," in Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, 2d rev. ed. (1996); M. Twagirayesu and Jan van Butselaar, eds., Ce don que nous avons reçu(1982). Russell L. Staples

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This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.