Overseas worker with local ties dies suddenly in Southeast Asia


?Phil Penner, pictured with wife Esther and Anna, died unexpectedly while ministering in Southeast Asia.

Phil Penner, formerly of McPherson, 29, died June 16 of cardiac arrest after contracting dengue fever and pneumonia.

His maternal grandmother, Amanda Ewert, lives in Hills?boro, and parents Richard and Eldora Penner of McPherson are Hillsboro natives.

A memorial service is planned for 6 p.m., Sunday, June 29, at Countryside Covenant Church at 940 E. Northview Road in McPherson.

A wake and service celebrating his life were held June 22 at Bethel Community Church in Chicago.

Since September 2006, Phil and wife Esther had been working in Southeast Asia, where they were involved in community outreach and preparing to teach English classes.

Family and friends remember Penner as a vibrant and deeply committed Christian. Matt Penner of Wichita created a site on Facebook, ?Remembering Phil Penner,? to honor his brother?s life and ministry.

?So many things come to mind when I think of Phil,? wrote Gwen Crispin of Chicago. ?His smile, his genuine love for the Lord and desire to serve Him, his Bible knowledge, his love for Esther and Anna, his love for the kids at church that he mentored, his desire to be an example to those kids (and us adults) of what a man sold-out to Christ looks like.?

Phil Penner graduated from McPherson High School in 1997 and Moody Bible Institute in 2001 in Chicago. In 2003, he earned a master?s degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

In 2005, he married Esther Lim, and their daughter was born in 2006. They have returned to Chicago where they will be living with friends, said brother Matt.

A memorial has been established to Celebrate Hope, where money will be distributed to various designations, including one on behalf of daughter Anna.

?Let?s be bold in our witness for Christ these days,? Matt wrote the Facebook site. ?It?s what Phil would want us to do.?

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