By Jon Hansen, District Representative, Mountain Central
Recently I received the opportunity to travel to a place that had an eternal impact on my life: a country church.
One Young Boy & A Country Church
Eighty-four years ago a 13 year old boy hitch-hiked from Minnesota to the state of Washington to visit his father. He had not lived with this man since his mother had died in childbirth delivering his sister. On her deathbed she pleaded with her husband to not place their children in an orphanage. The husband kept his word and the boy was instead placed in foster care. By the time he was 13 he had lived in 9 different homes and desired to visit his father.
He found his father, a contractor, who was angry against God because someone had committed arson against him. The time with his father proved to be difficult; the boy decided to take a walk down the road to the Columbia River to jump in the river and end his life.
On his way to the river he walked by a country church and heard music. The music drew him through the church doors. The pastor shared the gospel that evening; for the first time, this young boy heard that Jesus loved him. The only thing he knew about Jesus before then was a swear word.
A Family Changed By A Country Church
On that night 84 years ago that young boy accepted Jesus and it changed an entire generation. It changed me–that young boy was my father.
My father traveled back to Minnesota where he found a country church to be mentored at. After high school graduation he enrolled at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. Upon graduation he accepted the call to his first pastorate in Minnesota where he met my mother. After their marriage he went back to Moody for more training. My parents served in country churches for over 50 years before retiring.
My parents instilled in me a love for the Lord and a love for country churches. I accepted the Lord in one of those country churches when I was four years old. My wife Debbie grew up in a county church and accepted the Lord at the age of seven. Our love for the Lord and for country churches determined our dedication to serving the Lord through Village Missions. For the past 21 years we have served as Village Missionaries, fourteen of those years serving churches in Nebraska and Kansas and the past seven years as the Mountain Central District Representatives.
I am so thankful for that little country church along the road to the Columbia River. Without that church and that faithful pastor preaching the gospel my father may have never accepted the Lord. I may have never accepted the Lord either. As I recently walked that road to the river and saw the church (still open today), I thanked the Lord for his goodness to my dad and my family. I thanked him for the privilege it is to serve the 32 missionaries and country churches in our district and I thanked him for helping Village Missions to Keep Country Churches Alive.