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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Restoring Life

By Randy Hurst
Sept. 4, 2011

The brightly painted white fences and red barns contrasting the verdant fields in southeast Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, sieze attention with their serene beauty.

From just about anywhere in the valley, some of the most picturesque farms in America are visible in any direction.

Turning off Churchtown Road and driving east along Plank Road, travelers immediately notice the farm on the left against the hillside. Its immaculately maintained buildings and orderly rows of corn are testimonies to incalculable hours of hard labor.

Those who drive by have no idea that less than 50 years ago the farm was overgrown with weeds, some of its fields filled with stumps and rocks. The rich topsoil produced no crops. The buildings were in disrepair. The owners of the farm were two elderly sisters, Goldie and Bessie Plank, who couldn’t work the fields.

Then Emmanuel Beiler came. Unlike many Amish in the area, he did not inherit farmland. Instead he worked in a factory in Leola, Pennsylvania, making children’s clothing. All he had to support his young family was a willingness to work hard and a determination to succeed.

Having saved some money from his factory work, Emmanuel approached the Plank sisters about renting the farm. The women agreed. Helped by his 10-year-old son Omar, Emmanuel cut weeds, picked out rocks, removed stumps and planted crops. Over time the Beiler family restored the farm to productivity and beauty.

Enterprising and energetic, Omar approached his father’s best friend, Ben Algyer, about buying Ben’s bull calves for a few dollars each. Dairy farmers sell bull calves immediately after birth and raise the heifers as milk cows. Omar fed the calves for about six weeks until they were weaned and then sold them at auction. At an early age he developed entrepreneurial skills and valued hard work.

Omar and I recently went to visit the farm where he grew up. He showed me the shed where he raised the calves and reminisced about life on the farm and how grateful he is to his parents, Emmanuel and Priscilla Beiler, for their example and the values of his Amish heritage. Later, as we drove down Plank Road to take a picture, we pulled into the driveway of the farm across the road. To Omar’s joyful surprise, Ben Algyer walked up to greet us. He warmly shook Omar’s hand for the first time in 40 years.

Omar was 17 when his sisters attended a Pentecostal revival meeting. Deeply touched by the services, they urged Omar to come with them. He agreed, but walked out of the service. After a sleepless night, he returned the second night and responded to the salvation invitation. After prayer, he met Pat Dagan, a lovely Mennonite girl, who had also been praying at the altar. It was love at first sight.

Omar and Pat started attending an Assemblies of God church. When missionaries came for services, Omar was deeply moved as God spoke to his heart. Because one missionary he’d heard lived in a grass hut and another on a houseboat, he asked Pat if she would be willing to live that way. She said yes, and at age 19, the couple married.

Omar and Pat pastored in Christiana, Pennsylvania, for 11 years before the Lord led them to Vienna, Austria, as missionaries. They pastored Vienna Christian Center for seven years and saw the church grow to more than 400. In 2000 Omar was asked to serve as Assemblies of God World Missions director for the CIS/Baltics area consisting of nine countries of the former Soviet Union. Seven years later he was chosen as Eurasia regional director. The largest of the six AGWM regions, Eurasia has the fewest believers and the most unreached people groups.

A little-known area of Central Eurasia was predominantly Christian centuries ago, but now has no churches and no known believers.

As a boy, Omar Beiler watched a farm brought back to life because of his father’s vision and hard work. He believes that in a similar way, determination and perseverance will produce a spiritual breakthrough in Central Eurasia. In the same place where the message of Christ thrived hundreds of years ago, people can experience hope once again. As the Spirit breaks up the fallow ground, the seed of the gospel can be sown in ready hearts and bring forth life.

The following story tells how.

RANDY HURST is communications director for AG World Missions.

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