50th Anniversary Tour Leader Reflections: Fred & Shirley Redekop

Smiles Are a Language

Fred and Shirley Redekop have led a variety of TourMagination tours. Beginning in 2005, Fred co-led World of Paul tours to Turkey and Greece with Tom Yoder Neufeld. “It was neat to watch people get excited about seeing the places they have read about in the Bible,” says Fred. On one World of Paul tour, TM travellers had a special experience while admiring walls filled with painted stories from the Bible and the saints in an Orthodox monastery in Meteora, Greece. “A group of blind Orthodox pilgrims came in and sang an acapella hymn of faith—even though they could not see any of the beautiful art on the walls,” says Fred.

Shirley led her first TourMagination tour in 2009. “It was a memorable experience taking a group to Paraguay for the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in 2009. We worshipped with more than 6,000 Anabaptists from 101 countries. We also visited the Mennonite Colonies in the area and Iguazu Falls.” A few years ago, Shirley asked TourMagination to help her develop and promote a women’s tour. In 2018, she and 16 women (including her daughter Hannah) travelled to Tanzania. “TourMagination helped me realize my dream of inviting North American women to meet and spend time with women of the Mennonite Church in Tanzania,” says Shirley. “The tour helped us spread seeds of love and peace through sharing stories and seeing the projects the Tanzanian women began and are maintaining. It was priceless!”

Fred also remembers assisting tour leader John Sharp on a Great Trek Mennonite heritage tour to Uzbekistan. “We visited a mosque, where Muslims welcomed Mennonites in the 1880s. They stayed in the Muslim village for one winter, and were allowed to hold worship services and weddings in the mosque,” says Fred. Two travellers on the tour had diaries from their Mennonite ancestors who were part of the Great Trek migration.  “One person read about a baptism carried out by his grandfather and mentioned the name of the great-grandmother of the other person with a diary!”

Both Fred and Shirley appreciate the relationship building that happens on TourMagination tours. “We like the stories we share and hear from travellers and the locals we are visiting.” The Redekops appreciate travelling with open-hearted, like-minded people who are willing to dialogue and fellowship together. They also love learning new things about the places they visit and watching travellers experience new cultures and languages, as they discover that “smiles are a language.”


Cover Photo: Photo 1 – Fred Redekop, Photo 2 – Shirley Redekop on the women’s Tanzania tour with some Tanzanian Christian leaders.

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