His Farm Fellowship
We arrived at His Farm Fellowship in Berne, New York driving a rented U-haul and pulling our
car. We got everyone in the cab of the truck somehow, and I drove all the way. I really don't remember the trip or how long it took to get there but I certainly remember the snow, the cold
air and the dirt road and muddy area leading up to the farm.
After we arrived we found out where we were to stay. It was a rather shocking surprise because the room we were given was very small. Somehow there was room enough for a crib for Chris
to sleep in. There was two bunk beds. One was pretty high off the floor and we put our luggage
and belongings on that bed. Bev and Sam slept on the other one, and I slept on the floor. Every now and then Bev would take the floor to give me a break. We ate at the pastor's table and used their bathroom. The table wasn't much of a problem because we had plenty of room to sit and
eat. Bath time was a greater problem because the pastor and his wife had six children. Getting in the bathroom was often a long wait. The one thing I was really thankful for was that we were
on a farm so even though we stayed in a cramped room we could go outside and have plenty of room for the children to roam and play.
Bev pretty much took care of the children. I was assigned to teach the Christian school which
was mostly the pastor's children of varied ages. I didn't have much trouble with that because
there was a young Christian woman working with the kids who was a great help and I think one other man. The curriculum is something I have no recollection of, but it was good and the Bible was incorporated into it. Some evenings I would go to the prison and teach and occasionally we would make a ministry trip somewhere. The one venture I remember the most was when we went to the Bowery in New York City and worked with people who lived on the streets. I remember the sidewalks were covered with urine, and one man in particular who was eating some bread left on that sidewalk. I was so sad that anyone should have to live that way and be so desperate. We only went there once while we were at His Farm. Occasionally we would go to a nearby Christian College to visit, and during my time there I went there to seek the Lord on a three day sabbatical from ministry. I was prophesied over while I was there. I also learned a valuable lesson about obedience while visiting that college.
It was in the evening after supper and I left the dining hall and met some people in another place in the building who were going to have a prayer meeting in one of the room. I thought I should
go with them and I did. When we got in the room this one person started praying and they kept
on for a long time. I got tired of waiting for a turn to pray and left the room semi-disgusted. As I got out into the hallway God spoke to me and said; "I called you to myself for these three days
and going to that prayer meeting was disobedience and sin." I learned that praying with others
in a group could be sinful if you do that when God is calling you apart to himself to get to know
him as we ought. Obedience to what God calls you to do is of far greater significance than anything else.
Eventually we were moved to another part of the farmhouse which had three rooms instead of one. The room had a vent in the ceiling and the wasps and bees would come through the vent into the front room. In addition, we had mice and rats running through the walls day and night.
I could go further into how all that worked out, but that wasn't really a big issue with Bev and I because we came there to minister no matter how the conditions might be. As I mentioned previously, we agreed to come and work for this ministry without any salary and for food and lodging. That will prove to be very important to us further along in this story.
One of the exciting things and very profitable things that happened for me during my time there was a group of black pastors decided to have a tent crusade. I got to attend all the meetings and planning committees and became good friends with all of them. One of them even tried to get me to go on their radio program and sing. I didn't do it. They were some of the nicest people I ever worked with and we had some good times ministering together. Of all the things that took place
at His Farm this was up at the top for me.
Another special event was a blessing from the Lord. Chris got sick and we had no money to see
a doctor so we prayed and asked the Lord to provide it. Soon after we prayed we got a gift of money from someone in the church we used to attend before coming to His Farm. The person
was not a person who I would ever have thought would send us money, but it came and it was enough to pay for the doctor and get the kids a little something for a treat. God's provision was such a wonderful surprise. We couldn't thank him enough!
The pastor was going to send Bev and I to Jamaica to minister. We were very excited for the opportunity and really looking forward to it. Before we had a chance to go a friend of the pastor showed up and began to help the pastor on the farm. He was an arrogant man and he was angry because I wasn't helping with the farming. I really didn't have time to do farm work because I was busy preparing for school, grading papers, and ministering at night among other duties. One
night we heard a hard knock on the door to where we were staying, and this man came into our house upset and loud. My son Chris was sleeping right next to him, but he began to get very vocal about how he felt concerning his view about my lack of participation in the farm work. I
tried to get him to quiet down because the baby was sleeping but he would not so I got very angry and told him to get out of my house and stay out. He left, and I am glad he did because
I would have thrown him out bodily if he didn't; I was that angry.
One Sunday out of the blue in a morning service the pastor called this arrogant man to the front and he had an ordination ceremony for him. Part of the ceremony was a send off that took Bev and I by surprise and caused us grief. It seemed the pastor had chosen his friend to take our place on the Jamaica trip, and he ordained him to make his ministry with the farm official. Bev
and I went home hurt that we were not told anything about the ordination and change of plans,
and worst of all, during the night this man packed up his family and left and never returned and never went to Jamaica. We never got to go to Jamaica either.
Some more time passed and on my birthday, September 27, 1983 I made a trip to Pennsylvania and had to leave my wife and children behind at the farm. The reason for the trip was that the pastor came to us and told us he had someone else who wanted our living quarters and the only way we could stay there is if we paid rent. Since we came to work for no wages and only food
and lodging, we could not comply with that demand and so I had to leave my wife behind, in order to drive to Pennsylvania and find work and a place to stay as soon as possible. A church we had attended took up and offering for us to get Bev and the children back after I found a place to stay and a job. One of the people who gave in the offering didn't get a thank you note and complained to the pastor about it. I thought I had gotten everyone but somehow I missed them. I informed the pastor if he would give me the name of that person and the amount they gave I would be more than happy to give the money back to them because I didn't need their money.
In October I was able to go back to Berne and His Farm to pick up my wife and children and drive them to their new home at 509 Edison Avenue in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. It was a very small place but we managed because we had to. At least it had a back yard for the children to play in with a fence around it. We were very thankful for that. We were in that house living paycheck to paycheck from October of 1983 through November of 1986 and then we moved to our current location in Sunbury and have been there ever since. Our new home was bigger and we needed all the room we could get because our family would grow to seven children, and be visited by their many friends and ours over the years.