I was born and raised in an Old Order Amish community in Missouri. My parents would later move to Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. I was taught that I could not know where I will spend eternity before I die. I was taught and believed that if my good works out-weigh my bad works on Judgment Day, then surely God would let me into Heaven. I thought I was a pretty good person, at least in public. I suppose if I had been honest with myself, I knew I wasn’t a very good person, but I liked to think of myself as being a pretty good person.

When I was a teenager in Mt. Pleasant Mills, PA, Herman Graybill, an Independent Baptist pastor witnessed to me regularly. I still did not understand my need for Salvation. After all, I was in church every two weeks. (The Amish only have church services every 2 weeks). I did not understand that I could not work my way to Heaven.

In 1987, my parents decided to move to Wisconsin. I soon met the girl that would become my wife 2 years later. After we got married we lived in Wisconsin another 2 years before moving back to Missouri.

On October 26, 1997, I was ordained to the office of minister in the Old Order Amish Church. Because of this, I studied the Bible a lot more than I would have otherwise. At first, when I studied the Bible, I tried to fit the Bible to what I believed. Of course, I should have tried to fit what I believe with what the Bible says. After studying and preaching for a while, I began to develop an insatiable hunger for the Word of God. One Saturday evening, I was studying to preach the next day, when I decided to memorize Ephesians 2:8-9. Verse 8 was the first verse that ever jumped off the page to me. “For by grace ARE YOU SAVED….” What I noticed was the fact that we are saved, before we die… before Judgment Day.

About this time (early 1999) several Amish families were developing an increased hunger for the Word. We started having secret Bible studies. It was at one of these secret Bible studies that I understood Salvation and believed. My uncle Ervin Bontrager, who had been saved for about 15 years, explained John 3:5-6. That was on a Friday night. The plan of Salvation was so clear that I could not help but preach it that Sunday. It was “strange preaching” to the Amish and did not set well with the other Amish Ministers, etc. That was one of the last times I got to preach in the Amish church.

About 2 weeks later I led my wife to the Lord. This was May 1999. We continued to go to the Amish church until Dec 1999. On our first Sunday out of the Amish church we attended Philadelphia Baptist Church which is a little over an hour away. Then we turned to the yellow pages and found Southside Baptist Church in Kirksville, MO. We started attending Southside Baptist Church and we later got baptized and became members of Southside Baptist Church. We still attend and serve in Southside Baptist Church.

In July 2005, we began working our local fair with Bro Barney Smith of Lawrence, Kansas. We helped him work the booth at our fair for a couple of years. In about 2008, we were asked to take over the responsibilities of the booth at our local fair.

Meanwhile, God spoke to us through Evangelist Warren Garraway. We felt His call to serve Him in this great country of America. We were uncertain for a while just what He had in store for us. When we were asked to take over the fair ministry, it was becoming obvious to us that God would have us not only work our local fair, but also expand to the regions beyond. We soon began to seek other fairs in the surrounding counties and states.

It was while we were “prospecting” at the Missouri State Fair in 2009 that we met Bro. Al Wallace of Amazing Grace Mission. At that time he was around 76 years old and was working the State Fair booth all by himself that’s eleven 12 hour days. We exchanged phone numbers, etc, and in 2010 we worked with him at the Missouri State Fair. He encouraged us to pray about joining Amazing Grace Mission so that we could take over that booth for him. We joined AGM in 2011 and have managed that booth ever since. Joining AGM has opened countless doors of opportunity for us. But now we found ourselves financially unable to go everywhere that we could if we had the funds to go. At the time of this writing we are mostly self-supported.  Would you please pray about supporting us so that we can spend more time witnessing and less time working to support the family?

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30

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