Ours Was A Christian Family
The church played a part in everyone’s lives. Most of the social life as we knew it was centered somewhat around the church. There were the regular services on Sunday, prayer meeting every Wednesday, special services for the ladies, services for the men, and revival services. Then there were the various activities that they had to raise some money. One of those activities was the holding of several festivals each summer. Another activity was summer Bible School which lasted two weeks, followed by a program. Then there were the annual Christmas play and junior recitations. You can see that there was enough going on to take up the time. When we held the Christmas program, there was usually a three-act play included. Some of the people who acted in it were just members of the community and did not belong to the church.
My religious affiliations were varied. My grandfather was a true-blue Church of the Brethren member. Since his church was located at Leamersville, and it was too far to walk to, he attended the Smith Corner Church. My mother also went there as often as she could and I can remember one time in particular. We had gone with Grammy Nofsker and her family, and when we went home I became so tired that Charles Nofsker carried me up the hill on the way. When we spoke of church, my father always said that he "leaned" toward the Luthern Church, although he never went to any church until after my mother died.
At this point I will digress somewhat, I was saved, or as some say, born again, when I was a youngster of about the age of thirteen. Although I had been going to Sunday school and church for several years, I did not realize the importance of dedicating my life fully to Jesus Christ. Rev. Sylvan Lehman, the pastor, was conducting revival services and for two nights I was under conviction. I kept having a dream where I was lost in a large forest of birch trees. On the third night I fully gave myself to the Lord.
I was baptized in the stream that runs near where I currently live, (which is now on my son Larry’s property). Although it was March I did not have any ill effects from being in the cold water. I was immersed three times: the method used by the Church of the Brethren.
Over the years I was active in the church. I served several terms as deacon, several terms as Sunday school Superintendent, and also as the president of the Men’s Brotherhood. My wife, Dollie served in the church by being the Treasurer. Through the years I have mostly been faithful to the vows I have taken, however there were times that I did not feel close to my Lord. Those times were few. During my years in the Army during World War II, I neglected time in the chapel because I felt it was a day of rest. More about the Army later in another paragraph.
Many of my prayers have been answered in a miraculous way. Prayers for my granddaughter, Kimmie, for my son, Leon, for granddaughter, Amanda, for my daughter, Carol, and several times for my wife, Dollie. One time that was notable was when three doctors at Hershey Medical Center said Dollie had cancer of the bladder and that they would probably have to remove a kidney. When they prepared to perform the surgery, they did not find any cancer. We have told others many times about the miracles; some believe, some are skeptical. This was not the only healing for Dollie; there were several others. And prayers definitely have worked for me too. We were in Lancaster a couple years ago and I had heart failure. I had been warned by my cardiologist that I would need a new valve, but I was putting it off until the following May. I planned to go to the Cleveland Clinic to have the surgery. The heart failure made it necessary to have it done immediately, so I was brought to Altoona by ambulance and the surgery was performed by Doctor Anastasia. It was successful. I was on the prayer list of several churches. God does answer prayer.
During my years of service in the Smith Corner Mennonite Church, especially the early years, I became a friend for life with several men who have now passed on: Ben Knisley, Watson Feathers and Melvin Smith. Another good friend is Warren Stiffler, who is now in a nursing home. These men made a great impression on my outlook, especially Watson and Ben, because we discussed a lot of religious views.
The Rev. John S. Raugh was a mentor to me. He was a common person who liked to visit people when they boiled apple butter at butchering time. He was a no-nonsense person when it came to preaching. In going with him to the Eastern District Conference of the Mennonites of North America, I met several ministers who had a great impact on my daily life.