When Michael Kraus prayed …
“Switch the machines off, we are going to pray!” the loudspeakers crackled across the company premises. The boss was in and that meant everyone would come together to pray.
Exactly sixty years ago, on 22 June 1958, Chief Apostle Johann Gottfried Bischoff appointed Michael Kraus District Apostle for Canada. By this time, the 50-year-old Canadian immigrant had been active in various ministries for 25 years already. However, by the time he retired on 4 December 1994, Michael Kraus was 86 years old and had been a District Apostle for 36 years. He had been in ministry for a total of 61 years—exceptional considering today’s retirement policy.
Mindful of the Lord
Mihail Krauss was born on 26 March 1908 in Meeburg in Transylvania, a region in Romania. He was the second of five children and grew up on a farm. The family spoke German at home. At the age of 18 he left home. From his teacher he had heard that it was easy to earn money in Canada. In May 1926 he boarded a ship in Antwerp in Belgium and crossed the Atlantic. He ended up in Winnipeg in Canada. “Be mindful of the Lord all your days and do not transgress His commandments, then your doings shall be prosperous!” This was the message Michael’s father had imparted to the young man before his journey.
“He had only ten cents in his pocket, didn’t speak a word of English, didn’t know a soul; not even the dogs barked at him,” he often said. This is how Michael Kraus arrived in Kitchener, an immigrant city, in which many spoke German. Here he made his first contacts. He found a job in a chocolate factory and worked for seventy cents an hour. Later he established a small construction company with the money he had saved, then a weaving mill, followed by a carpet mill, Kraus Carpet Mills, with locations in Canada, USA, and Australia. He employed more than 900 people, producing among other things, thousands of metres of red carpet, which was used in churches around the world.
An intensive prayer life
As a young man, Michael Kraus discovered the New Apostolic Church and became an enthusiastic missionary. He did not care that his new-found belief was not very popular with anyone else. These first years “served to make my prayer life even more fervent”, the District Apostle said later.
“I pray at least five times a day,” District Apostle Kraus once said to explain his concern for his brothers and sisters in faith. Praying was so important to him that he communicated its importance to his brothers and sisters. “Several months ago, we started to ‘install’ a special kind of language in the hearts of our members in all countries: the language of prayer.” A fulfilling prayer life should be found in every house. Family prayers are something that go back to District Apostle Kraus. “First the father prays, then the mother, then the children—one after the other,” to offer praise and thanksgiving.
Missionary work on all continents
Praying, missionary work, and development work is what Michael Kraus did on a daily basis. At the age of 25, he was ordained a Deacon. In the years following, he received the ministries of Priest and Evangelist, and in 1951 he was ordained as Bishop. On 26 June 1955 Chief Apostle Johann Gottfried Bischoff ordained him as an Apostle in a divine service in Zurich (Switzerland), and three years later he was appointed a District Apostle for the newly created Canada District.
The courage of his convictions hardly knew any bounds. His proclamation of the glad tidings extended far beyond the borders of Canada. In the 1960s he sent ministers to Jamaica, Venezuela, and Mexico, and later also to Korea, Hawaii, and the Philippines. In the mid 1970s he started to work in Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In 1980 the District of Canada documented 67 countries in which it did missionary work, counting a total membership of one million. Fourteen years later, at the retirement of District Apostle Kraus, the district had grown to four million members.
Developing the congregations
The zealous Apostle explained his missionary successes as follows: “God crowned our efforts with grace and blessing so that the number of sealed souls grew from year to year. They are cared for by thousands of ministers. All of this produces deep gratitude in my heart for all that God has done.” His motto, which drove him professionally as well as spiritually, never changed: “Always grateful, never satisfied.”
At the age of 22, he married Hilda Loscher. They were married for 71 years. Hilda passed away in 2001. During the couple’s sixtieth wedding anniversary on 22 April 1990, Chief Apostle Richard Fehr said—referring to the seven fortresses in the coat of arms of Transylvania—that the marriage of Michael and Hilda Kraus was also a fortress. The main walls, he said, were steadfastness in the doctrine, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayer. But the prayer aspect, the Chief Apostle added, had been developed into a tower by the District Apostle and his wife.
District Apostle Kraus died on 16 November 2003 at the age of 95 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Praying was his priority
It did not happen very often that the boss was at the mill, a former employee remembers. Most of the time, District Apostle Kraus was out doing missionary work. But when he was at the company headquarters, then everybody came together in the morning to pray. And the machines were stopped …
Errata: 27 June 2018, 9 a.m: Originally, the article stated that District Apostle Kraus and his wife celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary in April 1990. This was not correct. April 1990 was their sixtieth anniversary. Also incorrect was his age at the time of his death: 94. Correct is 95. Sorry about that. The errors have been corrected.