My Father's Legacy of Faith

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Father's Legacy of Faith

My father, Andrew Stutzman, has spent the past 100 years living an exemplary life of faith and love, building a bridge for the rich grace of God to pass on to future generations who walk in his spiritual legacy. A faithful husband, loving father and life-long minister in the Mennonite church, Dad has spent the past fifty years living on his farm in the peaceful hills of Fryburg, in Holmes County, Ohio.

Andrew was born on March 25, 1915, the fourth of ten children, to D.J. and Frances Stutzman.  As part of the generation who lived through both World Wars and the Great Depression, Andy, as he was called by family and friends, carried the gritty and true-to-the-core values of hard work, honest living and a deep commitment to family. He knew what a dollar was worth - after all, he worked in a limestone quarry for 25 cents an hour. Raised by a father who was both writer and missionary Dad learned an appreciation for the Word of God at a young age and became an avid reader of heroes of the faith such as Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, and Billy Sunday.  Although his parents were Amish, he chose to become a member of the Pleasant View Mennonite Church where he met his young bride, Esther, who would be his faithful companion for nearly 74 years, until her passing in September, 2014.

The call of God was evident on my father's life with his ordination as a Deacon in 1949 followed by the double ordination of him and his brother, David, as ministers in 1954 and a subsequent church plant in the Mennonite community.  He was ordained as a Bishop in 1965 when he pioneered yet another new church as his realm of influence widened. Throughout the rest of his tenure as a Bishop, and until his retirement, he spoke in church meetings and revivals across the United States and in Canada, following the call of God in his heart. He also ministered in Guatemala, where he founded the first Mennonite mission which is still flourishing in the town of Chimaltenango, a city known for its textiles and pottery.

Andrew was known to be a fiery preacher, one who could turn from a soft-spoken, gentle and humble man into a bold, sweating, confident and shouting preacher as he paced back and forth behind the pulpit pouring his heart and soul into his preaching. He would always say he could feel the moment the Spirit of the Lord came upon him with anointing to preach the Word.

Two of Andrew’s brothers, David and Roman, also received the call of God to preach at a young age and went on to be ministers and leaders of their congregations with a lifelong dedication to preaching the Word of God - David at Sharon Conservative Mennonite Church and Roman at Martins Creek Mennonite Church.  The brothers would often gather to share stories and spiritual experiences while exhorting one another in their individual ministries.

After his retirement from farming and ministry, Andrew and Esther had a taxi cab service for the Amish in Holmes County, and their days were filled with trips throughout the local community as they provided transportation to jobs, doctor appointments, grocery stores, quiltings and even hospitals to birth babies. They formed deep friendships with the Amish and were always ready to lend a helping hand.

My father has spent a lifetime serving the Lord and giving himself to the work of the ministry. He is a man of prayer, a man of his word and shows kindness to all. The Bible is as much a part of his life as breathing, and he has memorized large portions of scripture as well as poetry.  In his younger years he loved to sing and would often sit in the evening with the Church Hymnal on his lap as he turned from song to song, singing a verse of each, and then thumbing through the well-worn pages of his Bible.

Well-respected in the community and deeply loved by all who know him, my Dad remains a shining example of a life well-lived with no regrets. On his 100th birthday, and forever, I honor this man who is my role model, father and friend.

1 comment:

  1. Your father seems like a kind man who has spent his life serving God and his people. I wish him a very happy 100th birthday.